3 Days in Haiti

A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected call on a Friday afternoon from Ali, a former-bride-turned-friend with whom I’ve stayed in touch! You likely remember Ali from her and Cesar’s gorgeous Biddeford Pool wedding back in 2010! Well, one thing led to another and I found myself on a plane to Haiti the following Tuesday, all set to take photos of the country’s national immunization campaign! Ali works for a phenomenal organization called Micronutrient Initiative that focuses on bringing life-saving micronutrients to people in developing countries! Be sure to check out their website and get the skinny on their essential role in the immunization campaign here! It was quite an honor to be invited to capture some images of the campaign and I was definitely excited to get started!

My only prior travel experience to a developing country was the trip to El Salvador that Justin and I took in February (you can read about that here & here!) and in some ways that certainly helped prepare me for Haiti. But every trip is unique, and Haiti was entirely its own experience! There was, of course, the widespread poverty and visible signs of the havoc wreaked by the 2010 earthquake that cost hundred of thousands of Haitians their lives and even more their homes and belongings. It’s impossible for me to imagine living in the conditions that many Haitians call daily life and I was moved in ways that I find indescribable by much of what I saw in my whirlwind three days.

But. More than poverty or squalor, more than hunger or bare feet, I was struck by the undeniable fact that people are people. Everywhere. Including Haiti. Little boys everywhere in the world seem able to figure out a million different ways to get dirty, to climb something, annoy little girls, and generally cause a ruckus wherever they go. Little girls strike the same poses for the camera in Port-au-Prince, San Salvador, and Freeport. Kids are kids and moms are moms. The same concern for the health and welfare of their children, the same exasperation at their antics, the same unstoppable love. In the communities that we visited, people were talking about who was playing in the upcoming soccer game, not that their home was constructed of corrugated metal and lacked electricity. They laughed and joked and brought their children to get vitamin A and immunize them against polio and proceeded along with the business of life- living and loving and laughing. People are people and it was as easy as you can imagine to connect, despite my abhorrent lack of French or Creole.

I couldn’t get enough of this little guy!! He’d start giggling, stick out one hip, and “show me the hand” and then just start giggling again…hilarious!

Each community had a “crier” for the campaign (those bright yellow shirts indicate a campaign worker) who would ride around on his bicycle and announce the health post.

This family was just too cute!

A little girl getting her vitamin A!

The way this little one looks at her Mom and the way Mom is looking back…melt!!

School uniforms and hair bows galore…these kids were just a riot!!

Ali & Judith!! Judith hails from Burundi originally and spends a good deal of time in Haiti in her work for Micronutrient Initiative! These two were invaluable companions, not only translating for my sorry self, but they really helped me understand many of the issues facing Haiti and better connect with the people whose lives I was photographing!

Our hotel was adjacent to the Museum Ogier Fombrun, dedicated to sharing some of Haiti’s colonial past. I was particularly struck and moved by this sculpture depicting the impact of the slave trade in Haiti on the grounds of the museum…it’s terribly gripping in its simplicity and unbelievably moving.

Our second day of shooting ended up taking us to several schools…have I mentioned how insanely adorable I find the uniforms and hair bows?!?!

Ali could often be found surrounded by a group of schoolkids! She shot the image of me showing the kids their picture on the back of my camera…they were so excited!

Some of the boys were trying to show Ali how strong they were by flexing their muscles for her…SO hilarious!!!

Signs of the earthquake devastation were particularly visible in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti was a whirlwind trip and an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world! I owe a huge thank you to Ali (you are awesome!) and Micronutrient Initiative for giving me such a fantastic opportunity and to Judith for her patience, endless translation, and her open, wonderful heart!! Thank you!!!!

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  • HeatherAugust 4, 2012 - 10:03 pm

    Cindy – An inspiring pictorial of resilience. These photos not only allow the viewer to look upon the devastation, but into the eyes of those effected by the earthquake appreciate their spirit.ReplyCancel

  • RachelMay 15, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Wow Cindy! Through your words and your photographs you have so eloquently and provocatively captured the beauty of a country in which probably most people that visit or that report out on only see the destruction, poverty, and sadness. Yes, people are people everywhere. Families are families everywhere. You have done such a beautiful and amazing job of capturing this truth.ReplyCancel

  • AliMay 15, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Cindy, somehow in 3 days you managed to capture the spirit of Haiti that after many, many visits, I find difficult to put into words! Your pictures are powerful. Thank you for dropping everything at the last minute to join us. I knew you had a gift for wedding photography, and between El Salvador and Haiti, it is now clear that travel photography could be another calling!ReplyCancel

  • Monica WolfsonMay 15, 2012 - 5:26 pm

    A simply amazing post Cindy, thank you! Your pictures tell a story of survival and how the human spirit can go one, even after such a devastating event. Reading this has certainly brightened up my day!ReplyCancel

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