Very rarely does a photographic project really tug at your heartstrings, but Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s ‘Skate Girls of Kabul’ makes you believe the world can be a beautiful place. Presented by Roshan and supported by legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, the images of the girls in the Skateistan programme in Kabul are uplifting, inspirational and delightful.
The young girls photographed by Fulford-Dobson are all smiles and innocent delight in their portraits and action shots. The aim of Skateistan, run by Australian skate enthusiast Oliver Percovich is simple: use skateboarding to empower young girls from poor and displaced families in Afghanistan and get them into education.
Winning the 2nd place prize in the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize with ‘Skate Girl’ proved it wasn’t just Fulford-Dobson who appreciated the girls’ (and volunteers who help at Skateistan) sense of grace, passion and determination. Fulford-Dobson was surrounded by the positivity of “young Afghans in their early twenties who were volunteering at an orphanage and were passionate about being seen as strong and willing to fight for themselves, rather than as victims of circumstance.” Skate Girls Of Kabul helps prove how important projects like Skateistan are to young girls dreaming of an education; the girl in the prize-winning portrait passed her first three educational grades and is now enrolled in the national school system after one year at Skateistan (which she still attends in her free time).
“I hope that this collection captures something of their spirit: their joy in life, their individuality and their community” said Fulford-Dobson, which she most definitely achieved. Capturing spirit, innocence and happiness in children who reside in a country with endless political problems and war threats is no easy task, but the girls’ joy and positivity, and love of skating, radiates out of Fulford-Dobson’s beautiful images.
Open from 15 to 28 April at the Saatchi Gallery, Skate Girls of Kabul will make you believe the world is a good place. Skateistan is currently expanding into Cambodia and South Africa.
Words by Annie Lunnon


Annie Lunnon, Jessica Fulford-Dubson, Kabul, Oliver Percovich, Roshan, Saatchi Gallery, Skate Girls, Skateistan, Tony Hawk,