Photomontage March 19-22, 2010
Haiti was an incredible experience and I was so honored to have the opportunity to serve as the photojournalist for our group. Our goal was to provide a Christian perspective on the situation in Haiti 60 days after the most devastating disaster this poor country has ever experienced.
People have asked me what stuck out the most in the experience. And to be honest it wasn't the piles of garbage and sewage everywhere with dogs, pigs, goats, chickens and 300 pound hogs roaming everywhere. It wasn't the buildings collapsed everywhere we went. I can't even say that the seeing 18 month babies walking around naked and completely unattended struck me the most, although it was heart wrenching. What made me take the most pause for contemplation was how gentle and kind most people where as you would meet on the street. I was blown away by the hope and resilience displayed in the behaviors and attitudes of the Haitian people. Sure there where people walking around with lost looks on their faces but most seemed be getting on with their lives even though 9 out of 10 people had no job.
One lady we interviewed was pulled out of her home after 2 hours of being buried. This was the home that she and her college president husband had spent 24 years building. In 35 seconds all of that was destroyed. I was able to walk through this home and take photos and video. It was heart breaking. But this wasn't the hardest thing they have dealt with. In fact, she had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint for 3 days until they could come up with $3,000 for her release. What was remarkable was that the first thing she does after being rescued was to proclaim the love of Christ to the neighbors and voyeurs who had happened by. Ten of those people were so moved they committed their lived to Christ on the spot!
During our visit to the downtown business district it literally looked like a war zone. I can imagine it would take an airforce many days or weeks to create this kind of destruction without a nuclear bomb. In what was the poorest country in the western hemisphere this quake has left the poorest of the poor now more than ever a people dependent on outside resources to survive day to day.
We were able to capture nearly 2000 images and 6 to 7 hours of video footage during the three day visit. Along the way we interviewed over 10 significant church and ministry leaders. We shot the devastation of half a dozen schools and universities, hospitals, court houses, apartment buildings and most notably the Palace which is the equivalent of the white house.
The biggest need appears to be the creation of viable jobs that create wealth and provide sustenance for families to help them avoid dependence on outside resources to survive. That in combination with rooting out corruption in the government could provide a strong hope for permanent change in Haiti. On the other hand, from a human perspective if things are not changed quickly the next 6 months could lead to a huge loss of life as people become increasingly desperate.
The most sensational experience we had happened around a clothing distribution we were observing. In these desperate times people are oping to receive anything they can of value. And as you may have heard and seen on television people get into a near mob state trying to get their piece of the pie. In this case the three or four guys were using batons, a shotgun and a roller blade to beat people back. Even though I anticipated the shotgun going off while I was filming I was still startled to say the least. Seeing people form the tightest line you can imagine was shocking and there were times I was wondering about my own sanity as I got closer and closer to the mayhem. If you want to watch the resulting video here is the link: http://bit.ly/clothingdistribution.
If you would like to give to a local charity whose entire mission is to support Haitian orphans please visit Children's World Impact by visiting www.childrensworldimpact.org. 100% of the funds you donate go directly to benefit orphans in Haiti. This unique foundation is run by Tyson Ray out of Elkhorn, WI.