The Haitian People
Here I am, holding back tears as I reflect on my recent trip to Haiti. These aren’t tears of pity or sadness. Rather they are tears of gratitude. (Read about my “why” in part 1) Gratitude for the friends I made and for this opportunity to use my skills to give back to such a beautiful, yet struggling nation like Haiti.
Before I really get started on Part 2 of my Picture The Nations series of posts… I wanted again, to give just a little background on two amazing organizations.
#1 Picture the Nations
“The Mission of Picture the Nations is to serve communities and show the beauty of people in every nation. We facilitate short-term photography trips that benefit individuals, ministries, and communities. Funds acquired by selling prints and books are used to help build sustainable “people serving” organizations throughout the world.”
During our trip- we did, at times, come across some resistance from the Haitian People, with regards to having their photo made. I mean…there we were, a group of American’s with multiple cameras in tow. I have to admit- I completely understood. They are so used to being exploited, their privacy never respected. So what makes this group of Blancs any different? With the help of our translator Frederson, we were able to explain our mission. Our purpose.
“We see a world where nations are represented by
the beauty of their people
rather than the stigma of their poverty.”
With Together4Haiti– by our side, we were able to travel all over the country.
“TOGETHER FOR HAITI believes that programs and initiatives designed to give people the skills and opportunities to change their circumstances can be remarkably successful in improving life for both individuals and communities. Therefore, TOGETHER FOR HAITI exists to provide opportunities for the education, growth, and development of the Haitian people. We will unite the efforts of our existing, US-based partners while also promoting initiatives, identified and generated by the Haitian leadership, in an effort to maximize the impact of our work.”
The Anxiety of the unknown.
I won’t go over every single detail of every single day, but I will start out here. Over the 12 days in Haiti, we visited many cities. Some of which included: Cap-Haitien, Ferrier, Milot, San Souci & The Citadel, Fort Liberte, Ouanaminthe, Plaine du Nord, Drouin, Saint-Marc, Saut d’Eau, Petion-Ville, Port-Au-Prince, Port-a-Piment, Port Salute, and Guibert, just to name a few. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect. I was anxious- yet excited. Upon first arrival in Cap-Haitian, I was already extremely exhausted, running on adrenalin alone. And by day two, I was functioning on about 3 hours of sleep in a 48 hour period. Looking back though- I wouldn’t change a thing. (with the exception of packing more sweat-wicking clothes! LOL)
Before arriving, in Cap-Haitian, I was nervous. VERY NERVOUS.
I Know Nothing.
I find myself in awe of just how beautiful it was there, and how much I learned, yet I realize I still know nothing. I saw a nation of hard-working, beautiful souls stuck in a situation beyond their control.
These are people just trying to make a living.
They are trying to provide for their families.
They are trying to Survive.
I did learn…that they don’t need our pitty. They need our compassion. Instead, we should find ways to help promote educational systems and other programs that will help the future generations of Haitians. We can do this by donating to organizations like Together4Haiti and Picture the nations.
Don’t Have Pitty, Have Compassion.
While trying to come up with the perfect way to explain the beauty of the Haitian people- I reached out to Danny from Together4Haiti. What can I say to possibly get others to understand this nation? His response was beautiful. So I’m going to quote him.
“In respect to the Haitian people in general, I think communicating the resiliency and hard-work they do every day just to survive. So often we are tempted to pity the people of Haiti. But pity keeps us in our comfortable world and expresses sorrow because they don’t have what we have. Compassion, on the other hand, drives us to leave our comfort and enter the pain in an effort to learn, build relationships, and seek a solution together.”
What I Know
You’ve heard me say this before. Everyone is beautiful. It’s something that I firmly and wholeheartedly believe. Though sometimes we fail to see the beauty in ourselves, it’s so much easier to see beauty in others. Beauty shines from within, regardless of race, gender, nationality or social status. I also know that- Photography isn’t about capturing perfection. And that the most beautiful images are ones that reflect authenticity. Photography is a luxury that many can’t afford, and while visiting Haiti it was apparent that most of these beautiful people have never had a photograph made. Neither of themselves or of their families.
The beautiful part of this mission trip was the ability to photograph these beautiful people AND gift them with the photographs. (Joshua has done a few Picture the Nations trips Watch his video <<) To see the way they would light up when they first saw their photograph… it brought tears to our eyes.
What I learned
The Haitian people are hard working, kind souls. They are often up well before sunrise to attend church (sometimes on a daily basis), just to get to work immediately after. Day in and Day out, some tended their markets, their stores or their farms. Whatever their job, they took pride in it. The people of Haiti (who we had the honor of connecting with) were so grateful, humble and gracious. Despite everything they don’t have, they don’t complain. (Hell! I complain when the internet is running too slow, or if my Starbucks coffee went up in price. :/ )
What I did hear was praising the Good Lord and being thankful everything they did have, rather than focusing on what they didn’t.
Husband and Wife. When he first saw the picture of his wife, he kissed it. When I saw this- I asked to make a portrait of them together.
The following pictures are from two amazing villages we visited. The pastor of their community was with us as we walked around. The people are kind.
For Part 3 “The Mission“.
If you would like to donate to any of the organizations mentioned in this post, you can do so via these links:
Together 4Haiti (Ways to Donate)
Other posts of Interest: