- Posted April 16, 2010 by
Port au Prince, Haiti
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Haiti earthquake aftermath
Day Eight: Port au Prince
On our last day in Port au Prince and in Haiti, we exited the locked doors and gates of the hotel and crossed the street, entering again the maze of tents and tarps at our doorstep. Fifty yards from the hotel’s breakfast buffet, children with buckets wandered in search of water and food for the day. “Blanc, blanc. One dollar. One dollar.” Beyond the tents the collapsed Presidential Palace sits hauntingly, still untouched as if a metaphor for all that is broken here. Walking the streets a last time we paused at some of the tombs that were once homes. Walls whispered to us, “Ede nou.”
“Thank you being here with our people.” Perhaps a fitting way to end the week, we found ourselves talking with the President of Haiti on the flight to Miami. When we asked if there are any solutions in sight to help those who are suffering, he could only offer, “It’s very difficult.” His freshly pressed suit and bold tie could not conceal the burden reflected in his pained and distant stare. His wife politely feigned a telling half-smile. “It’s very difficult.”
Who were we, to have entered this world as we had, uninvited? What right did we have? What did we have to offer? Our promise to those we met and photographed was that we would tell their stories. The depth of suffering makes it easy to dehumanize…it’s so easy, and much more comfortable, to look the other way. But we were privileged to look into the eyes of real people. The camera exposed their vulnerability and transparency and drew us into their souls. For those moments that we connected and shared our humanity, our hope was that they would know that they are not anonymous, not forgotten. Do they think of us as we do of them, still? Do they wonder if we have told their stories yet?
What then must we do?