As I prepare for my trip to Haiti, all of the people who have made a difference in my life come to mind– I hope this Blog will be a way for me to share this amazing event with all of you.
During this trip I will be teaching my first digital photography workshop to a group of young people in LaVallée as well as documenting the doctors medical mission in Ridoré. I will be posting the students’ images and mine to share with you and to let you know how everything is going.
My friend and travel companion Michael Beauford is the one responsible for my involvement with The Association Haitienne de Développement Humain, Inc., (AHDH), http://www.haitiahdh.org, a non-profit group of Haitian Medical Professionals based in New Orleans, La. I will forever be grateful to him for changing my life.
I remember so clearly my first flight to Port Au Prince, Haiti. I flew into Miami to rendezvous with Michael, Dr. René, Sandra René and the rest of this avant garde team – it’s important that we travel in groups because we have a charter connection in PAP. During that first flight I got up to stretch my legs and looking across the isle I saw Dr. René standing there; he smiled and walked over to me saying, “I was hoping to talk with you briefly before we land in Port Au Prince – I just want to warn you about the people” – my mind began racing in every direction – we are preparing to land and now he wants to warn me? Then he said, “the people – they will steal your heart.” He was right; I was swept away by the people my first trip there. I have met many people who share similar stories as to why they keep returning to Haiti. And if I may so boldly quote Maggie Steber, a photojournalist who has won awards for her work in Haiti over the past 20 years, “Haiti is dreamlike, magical, evil, heavenly. It seems as though the fates pointed to Haiti and decided this is where they would put the portal between paradise and hell. Everything — everything — is one or the other. Nothing, not one part of life, lies in between. It is a life of extremes. Yet one cannot leave it alone.”
This mission will be a combination of mixed emotions and hard work. This is the 100-year anniversary of LaVallée. It is a time of celebration and thanksgiving. It is a Celebration of Life.
There are more than 40,000 people in the county of LaVallée de Jacmel, which is approximately 90 sq. km. Our village Ridoré is just one of several villages in that area but it is the main village because of the clinic and the Market. Our doctors care for all of the people from this area and many, many more. Some people walk for days to get to our clinic sometimes only to find we don’t have the proper equipment or medicine to care for them – but we all remain hopeful.
The images you see on this blog will be those by the students and myself. You’ll be able to see first-hand the conditions that the people of Haiti, including the doctors, face every day. I will try to keep you posted daily on our activities and add new images.
Your comments are welcomed.