The anniversary of the Haiti Earth quake is upon us and as expected not much has changed there. Why, you might ask. Well, the short of it is that the history of corruption within the government has created an economic environment that does not reward Haitians for trying. But this goes beyond the scope of this post. I don’t know what I would have believed if I didn’t take the opportunity to go visit Haiti after the earthquake like I did in Feburary 2010. (I do want to say that a number of people financially gave so that I could go!!!) I didn’t know what to expect other than I was going to photograph and help with food distribution OR stay and help at a make shift hospital.
I ended up going to Port Au Prince, sleeping on a concrete slab next to the airport, eating rice and beans, bagging food for distribution and helping those get that food without creating a riot. By the time I got down there it was already about a month after the quake. All we saw on the news were photographs of DEATH, DESTRUCTION and MAYHEM. I wanted to get a different angle and focus on the people who survived and had to move on with there lives. I also wanted to focus on the children. The fact of the matter was that the Haitians are people who were duped into their government leadership because of empty promises. I wanted to capture their lives and their outlook. One thing that I noticed was that every time we did a food drop is the way they stand in line and the way they dress. When they stand in line they are always touching front and back. This insures no one breaks in line. Also, the women dress in their sunday best. I was really impressed with that.
I’ll have to say that it took some time for me to get used to photographing people who didn’t know my language or really know why I was there. Sure, they knew I was an American journalist but that’s about it. Thousands of photographers fell upon that country and I was just another one (in their mind) photographing their pain. The best thing that I learned from one of the experienced photographers there was: wave to them first and ask permission to take their photograph. I may have missed a few “good shots” but I think I got a whole lot more great shots because of it.
Well, the week I spent there was something that I won’t ever forget and I’m thankful of the relationships that I built and the Haitians who desire to make their country better.