In Haiti, chaos is deeply woven into the fabric of life. From the challenge of navigating the turmoil at the airport to weaving our way through the heat, noise, dirt and traffic on the narrow roads, my introduction to this fragile place was a needed jolt of reality.
I recently volunteered to document an experiment where psycho-social engagement might fuse with environmental art and bring fresh thinking to orphanages grappling with disaster resilience. An eleven-person team (psycho-social professionals, security detail, translators, environmental artists and others) set out to implement/document certain basic methods of coping through movement, song, story-telling and the fabrication (where the environmental art comes in) of architectural elements painted with chalk-board paint to encourage the simple process of sketching and dreaming for the more than one hundred children at the orphanages we visited.
It was estimated after the January 2010 earthquake that over one million Haitian orphans were living in conditions ranging from questionable to downright horrific. Though it is virtually impossible to know how many were orphans before the catastrophe, it is commonly understood that many, many orphanages are unlicensed and some function as way stations for human trafficking.
We visited three orphanages within thirty-six hours, traveling from Croix des Bouquets to Port-Au-Prince to the tiny village of Williamson. I photographed over seventy children ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years. Despite the numerous challenges evident in the country and the difficulty of simply moving around and accomplishing our basic goals, I can’t wait to go back.
Here are a few of these beautiful people.