Behind the Scenes
Port-au-Prince, Haiti â€“ three day shoot for Containers To Clinics (C2C)
March 2nd, 2012
Just a short flight from Miami, Port-au-Prince, Haiti is a world away. Having lived and traveled throughout the West Indies for six months, I thought I had seen a full range of living conditions from the uber-rich homes and boats to the shacks that look as if theyâ€™d barely keep the rain out.
I was wrong. I hadnâ€™t been to Haiti. Haiti is both beautiful and broken. In 1804, Haiti was the first Caribbean island, in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, to be free from its colonial ruler, France. Despite its successful slave-led revolt, France required Haiti to pay for its freedom in the form of 150 million gold francs. The debt, reduced to 90 million, was paid off in 1947, and Haiti has been struggling financially as a nation since its independence.
The 2010 earthquake literally brought Haiti to its knees with devastation beyond comprehension. From what I could see, little had been rebuilt in the year and a half after the earthquake.
While in Haiti for a shoot for Containers To Clinics (C2C), we stayed at Kinam Hotel, in Petionville, once a relatively wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince. Across the street from our hotel was once an open, public square filled with grass and trees. My view from the hotelâ€™s balcony reveals a different reality today.
With approximately 700,00 homeless, many of the open spaces in Port-au-Prince and its surroundings have become tent camps. Although UN forces abound, and police can be found near local police stations, as a Caucasian woman with a camera, I was not welcome.
I walked around this square near our hotel (now tent camp) with a C2C employee, a doctor from Nigeria who was mistaken for Haitian. He told me he was nervous to be seen with me – a Caucasion woman – despite the fact that we were walking in front of a police station.
The general sentiment was that I was going to profit from my photos that would leave the Haitians no better off than they are today. When I explained that my goal was to help increase awareness to raise funds for Containers To Clinics to provide medical clinics for women and children, some people warmed to me. However, most did not.
Having been a consultant for six years, part of me kept trying to figure out what would have to change to improve the living conditions and Haitian economy. The challenge is not just the limited services provided by a government that struggles to function, but the hopelessness of a people that cannot come together to fix their country.