I had a wonderful start to 2013 when a friend passed a job to me that he could not do. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get paid to work in Haiti, a place I have come to love.
This was my third trip traveling to Haiti. The first time I went with a reporter for the Naples Daily News. The second time I went by myself to photograph Saut d’Eau — a religious pilgrimage to a sacred waterfall. This time, I met with a group of nursing students from Boston College Connell School of Nursing as they set up a temporary medical clinic in a different village each day. I will share those photos after they run in the school’s magazine and website. For now, I am offering some of the photos I took with my phone.
Arriving in Haiti can be a jarring experience the first time. Stepping out of the airport, there is a mass of people pushing and shouting as luggage caddies and drivers vie for business. My plane arrived two hours late on January 10th and my driver wasn’t there. I was able to borrow the cell phone of a good samaritan and talk with my contact in Haiti who arranged for another driver.
My new driver showed up quickly. But, he passed me off to his son because he had another appointment. And then his son passed me off to a cousin because he, too, had an appointment. Michaelson (the cousin) told me that it is his dream to someday visit to the United States. We bonded over the American pop music playing through the truck’s radio as we drove to Leogane. The uncensored version of the song “Scream and Shout” by Britney Spears and will.i.am will always remind me of driving through the streets of Port-au-Prince.
I felt comfortable with the erratic driving, dust in the air and chaos on the streets. If I were in the passenger seat with someone in the U.S. who was driving the way they drive in Haiti, I would probably never get the same car with that person again. But, in Haiti it’s normal to swerve around other cars and barrel toward pedestrians while honking the horn.
While I only worked two days in Haiti, time slows in the small Caribbean nation. It felt like a week as I followed the nurses to the small mountain village of Duplessis to photograph a clinic and then to an orphanage in Petionville.
I always walk away from Haiti feeling confused about this place that has such beautiful people and lush countryside, but sits in turmoil with no solid infrastructure. I am no expert on Haiti. I hesitate speaking in any specific way regarding why the country is the way it is. I am still learning and I think the reasons why Haiti doesn’t thrive are constantly evolving.
What I feel do confidant in saying is that some of the warmest people I’ve ever met are in Haiti. Language and cultural barriers are overcome by human spirit. A smile, a gesture or a touch can translate more than my words every could.