When I first visited Ayiti/Haiti, exactly a year after the 2010 devastating earthquake I did not know what to expect, but I was deeply moved by the indomitable spirit of the people, by the immense artistry and beauty that they created everywhere and by the care and loving attention they obviously invested in their children.
But we never see or hear this portrayal of Ayiti in the media, and even less about the historical wanton exploitation of the land and resources and the people’s labor by Europeans, Americans and even neighboring Caribbean islands. All our hands are a little dirty.
However, what we are most guilty of is our negligence of thought that continue to speak of Ayiti as the “poorest” country in the western hemispher, and negates its foundational wealth, its unstoppable creativity and its undaunting determination to continue and thrive. This collective spirit is evident in the children I saw everywhere — their clean, clear eyes, their open curiosity, their keen sense of responsibility for themselves and their siblings and their innate, open beauty that was as welcoming and heart-stirring as the most beautiful flower, which of course they are, and to my delight, I felt many of them knew this, was shown and taught this, despite their immediate circumstances.
As I was driving by, I photographed this little girl squatting by the road, in charge of the two bags to her right and left. There was something golden about her manner, some assurance of belonging, some assurance that life was not going to simply use her up then sit her out. She was already installed on her throne, hence the color and texture that I employed in amending the photo.
At a vodun ceremony, I was arrested by this other girl, who was probably no more than six years old. It was her gesture, finger to mouth, angle of her upright arm, bold intensity of her eyes that I wanted to share. I am here and must be counted, her presence spoke to me. I am here and have something to share. I am here and will not be forgotten. I am here…See me!
See these children, really see them and see their island, and help them and their island to live the freedom they so daringly seized that others have been trying to pull from their hands. They are truly methaphysicians. They see beyond the immediate into a future where real freedom is a lived reality.
This is part of a larger photo/poetic project, in progress, entitled, Still: Ayiti’s Resoluteness