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.