Remembering Haiti

This is going to be a difficult post to write.

It was only four months ago that I was walking through the rubble of Petionville, Carrefour and Leogane in Haiti, speaking to some of the people who had been badly affected by the earthquake. To be honest, I sometimes find it difficult when I remember those ten days. I watched a BBC documentary last week about the orphans of Haiti and it was tough viewing, mainly because of the memories that came flooding back. Other than my family and some friends, I haven’t really spoken that much about my experiences and although I know that others have probably seen much worse, these memories are still imprinted on my mind and heart and occasionally they come to the fore of my thoughts.

I still see the face of the mother who pleaded with me to take and look after her daughter as she was living on the streets and couldn’t provide for her child.

I still recall seeing the people who were sitting scavenging for food in the filthy litter strewn canals which run throughout the city.

I remember how my translator panicked at the least bit of noise which resembled anything like a rumble of an earthquake.

There was the old woman who told me she couldn’t get hold of any tarpaulins from the aid organisations as she was too old to be able to fight the young men who would demand she hand the token over to them. She has to sleep in the streets without anything over her head.

And of course there were the children, many having lost relatives and were living with anyone who would have them, the children who were desperate for a small drink of water or a scrap of food.

These are just a smidgen of the memories I have from those few days in Haiti.

But fortunately, that’s not all I remember.

I also remember seeing families coming together to help each other.

The Pastor of a church who took in families and children, providing them with some basic shelter and food even though his own house had been demolished and he had very little money himself to buy food and water.

The young boy who roared with laughter as he ran down the hill with his pig in tow.

The teacher singing songs with those children who were willing to come back to school.

The 500 strong congregation singing their hearts out at a service on Sunday morning with their demolished church and school in the background.

I remember the friends I made, Alex, Augustine, Christelle, Charles, Paul, Precile, Marie-Esther, Rose-Andre, Dieusel, Simeon, Victor and Stephanie.

And I remember all those children who had a beaming smile on their face even though I struggled to see what they could be happy about.

That was Haiti as I saw it four months ago and from the reports I hear, things are still similar now.  As I sit here writing this blog, I’m wondering if any of the photos I’ve taken have actually helped any of the people I met. I know the images have been used by organisations to help communicate the work that is being done, and the work that needs be done in the future, but have the images made a difference?  I really don’t know.

I’m due to go back to Haiti in November to document the situation almost a year later, I hope from the bottom of my heart that I find things have improved. Right now there’s a real feeling that Haiti has dropped off people’s radar, but for the sake of the people in that country, that mustn’t happen.  They rely heavily on others to support them as they try to rebuild their lives and their homes and I hope that my images may go some way to encourage others to continue remembering Haiti.

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8 comments

  • Frank Ritchie 21st July 2010  

    Wayne,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this though revisiting such things even in writing, can be difficult. I love the fact that in the face of the despair and destruction, you still saw the hope… we, and more importantly, they can’t lose that. When we lose hope, we become lost.

    I work as the Education and Advocacy Manager for TEAR Fund New Zealand and from that perspective, allow me to say thanks for writing this – it was a good reminder as I begin my work day, about why I do what I do – we work to grow that hope.

  • Matea Michelangeli 21st July 2010  

    Haiti is not in the news anymore, but for those who have to live that reality everyday the country is still in great need. Great work! and I hope you find some glimpses of hope and optimism in your next visit and, please keep us posted!

  • Wayne Rowe 21st July 2010  

    Thanks for your comments Frank. You’re right, hope is what keeps us going and more importantly, it sustains the people and situations we strive to help. I really look forward to seeing your work with TEAR Fund. Take care.
    Thanks again.
    Wayne

  • Wayne Rowe 21st July 2010  

    Thank you for your kind words Matea. I’ll certainly keep you posted on my next visit. Take care.

    Wayne

  • Heber Vega 22nd July 2010  

    Wayne, thank you for sharing these images, great work on the post-production. I want to also highlight that your words/writing were inspirational to me. I was absolutely right when I told you that you could do that well. If you don’t mind I will post that video in my next 2-Consider (next monday), one question about that too, Which software did you use for this?
    Thanks again, Heber

  • Wayne Rowe 22nd July 2010  

    Hi Heber, I really appreciate your comments. Writing blog posts doesn’t come easy to me and maybe I shouldn’t compare them with the likes of your own posts which are of such high quality and appear to be so natural for you to write. But I’ll continue to write about what’s important to me and the things I experience and see. I truly believe I have the best job in the world and I don’t take that for granted. I also believe that we photographers in the humanitarian sector have a responsibility to the people we photograph, a responsibility to share their stories not only through images but through words as well.

    By all means use the video on your 2-Consider post, I’m at a youth camp next week so may not get to see your post until I return…something to look forward to.

    I used Proshow Producer for the slideshow. I’ve been using this for some time for my UK wedding work, it’s so easy to use and has all the control you need, I really recommend it.

    Thanks again

    Wayne

  • Vuv Betts 24th July 2010  

    Beautiful pictures of a very sad and difficult situation but, as usual, you have shown not only the despair but the hope in the faces of the people who live there. What you write inspire us to give and prayer for these people, so that their life situations might be improved.

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