Haiti is a very special place to me. I began working there in 2007 as a staff photographer for an NGO. Like a magnet, the rawness of life kept drawing me back time and time again. Like many others, I was in disbelief when I heard about the earthquake. I couldn't believe that this place could endure anymore hardship. The problems there are plentiful- poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of food and access to clean drinking water for many, deforestation and corrupt leadership. Details about the earthquake were scattered at first, then came a statement that upwards of 200,000 may have been killed.
Deciding to go to Haiti to cover this tragedy was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I didn't know if I'd be adding to the problems, further stressing the delicate infrastructure and taking up much needed resources in the aftermath. After concluding that I would regret not returning to a place this close to me, both emotionally and physically, I hopped on an aid flight with a friend into the Dominican Republic and then on into Port au Prince.
I learned that the hotel where I spent about three months off and on over the course of two years had collapsed, killing many, including a bartender I had spent many nights with sipping rum. College students being lead on a mission trip from my former employer were also caught in the collapse, trapping and killing several.
As much as I love photography, none of my pictures or any other photographs I have ever seen do justice to the sadness there. It was like being on the set of an apocalyptic movie. And yet, each time I return since the earthquake, life goes on. The resilience of the Haitian people constantly astounds me. I have to admit, my relationship with Haiti is, in many ways, a selfish one. I need it more than it needs me. I learn so much about life and myself each trip.
One of the most important lessons I have learned there is that Haiti does not need pity. Even in it's multitude of challenges, Haiti is a vibrant and proud place. To pity it would be a mistake and an underestimation of the Haitian people.
I hope to continue to travel and photograph there as often as the circumstances of my daily life allows.