With the drilling of a new well helped by the mission, fresh, clean water was now available to over 5,000 Haitians nearby in this bush village west of Port-Au-Prince. I saw even the smallest child willing to help out with family chores by going to the mission’s well for water. Twenty pounds of water for a four-year-old…I found hope abundant in this little village hidden in the Haitian landscape.
Haitian Village Boy
I found Johnnie, Mary Carmille’s son, standing on the front porch of their hut in the village. Mary Carmille, a wonderfully helpful, loving lady, was employed by the mission as caretaker of the team house at the station. Over the years we saw the mission, nearing its 20th birthday, being managed and guided by more and more local Haitian people. Mary Carmille is being a great asset to her neighbors.
Village Slide Show
I had always wanted to take my photos back to the folk in Reserve, a small village in the bush country of Haiti. On a recent trip I took along my digital camera and a laptop. Everyday prior to Thanksgiving, I had taken some photos of the folks there in the village and then downloaded them that night into a slide show in the laptop. On Thanksgiving evening we loaded up a John Deere four-wheel drive and went to the village. I set the laptop up in the back of the ATV and started the show. Within the first two minutes, there were 30 kids crowding around the screen and by the completion of the show, well over 100 people had packed in against the little kids down in front. With every new slide of someone new on screen, an ear splitting chorus of cheers rang out from the village as they recognized a friend or one of the children. While I was watching their responses, I noticed that when an individual’s own photo came up there would be little or no reaction from them. I realized that they simply did not know what they looked like themselves and consequently, did not know who that person was on the screen.
I noticed this student in the school yard at recess with one of her text books. She was reciting a lesson from the day while many of her friends played nearby. My interpreter explained that she was so excited about learning to read that she simply could not satisfy herself only in the classroom. Her joy for an education was spilling out into the playground.
Haitian School Girl
During my second trip to Haiti I helped with the construction of a school building. Years later, I went into one of the same classrooms, to take some support promo photos of children. It was a marvelous realization why we had worked so hard carrying foundation rocks down from the mountains to the mission. In moving the rocks, two fingers of volunteers had been broken…a small sacrifice.
I have taken many photos on mission trips to Haiti. On one return trip, I took along some copies as gifts for those who had been so kind as to let me photograph them. One elderly woman was overjoyed to have the photo, but could never believe it was a picture of her. She lives alone and is helped by the mission with food brought to her hut since she was abandoned by her family.
Almost lost and forgotten, this man’s family was gone, leaving him with no one to care for him in his old age. Without the help of Sue, one of the mission’s teachers, this man as well as several other older folk would have little or nothing to eat. When the work team witnessed Miss Sue’s act of kindness, we were all changed forever.
Well Baby Clinic
This photo was also taken during one of my days at a nutrition clinic west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Yet another case of a child’s mother not having the basic information necessary to provide adequate nutrition for her child. Hunger is very difficult to live with.
Here is where I found the attention given to children. This mission’s emphasis is upon education, kindergarten through college. It is always a thrill to visit there, as I know we will again witness the joy of children going to school, because they want to. For this particular school there is a huge waiting list of children wanting to attend. Shortages of teachers and facilities leave many out.
Haitian Shoeless Boy
Without shoes, this young boy had cut his foot on some rusty wire and been brought to the clinic with an infection. His calmness with the attending nurse was noteworthy, inasmuch as I was told he had never, before that moment, ever seen a nurse or a doctor in his life. Many Haitian children go years before they receive the attention that they deserve.
During one of the “Well Baby” clinics at a Haitian mission station, I was asked to take photos of some of the mothers and their babies who had come to the Nutrition Clinic for basic child care training. This particular baby was in very poor shape. Most of the food that had been provided for the child’s feeding had been eaten by her hungry mother instead. A short time after I shot this photo the child died.
John was terrific as a friend and helper with his Haitian Creole during a recent trip there with one of our Thanksgiving work teams. One evening John and I were coming back from the bush, enjoying a beautiful Haitian sunset and talking, when I asked him to let me take a photo of him. He stepped off the path into the grass, crossed his legs and struck this pose.
A common ailment in Haiti, goiters quite often go untreated. Our hope is that the local mission hospital may soon receive the staffing and equipment to assist these folks with their medical problems.
Haitian children with old tennis ball After a dozen years of annual trips to Haiti, hundreds of photos have followed me home from each visit. Of all the photos in my portfolio, this one of children from Reserve, Haiti with their tennis ball, stands out as the one that continually returns to my mind. This ragged gift ball from a previous visitor had seen many hours of play, but yet was their prize possession in a world of so very little else. That day I photographed several children playing where two dirt roads crossed, none were having more fun than these four friends.