Haiti – Kids, Life and Hope

our human collective

These are images of humans in Haiti. I visited two orphanages, one in San Repos and one in St. Marc. Scott Bonnell of HopetoHaiti created these safe havens. His goal was to help one child at a time. The foundation provides food, shelter, education, safety and hope to orphans in Haiti. Scott is hands-on and travels back and forth from Florida monthly. When he arrives the children jump into his arms. Heartwarming events like these warm my soul. I traveled to Haiti with my friend Wendi Blum. She’s a life coach and created a service mission. We crossed paths and I joined her small tribe bearing gifts and funds for the kids. From Port-au-Prince, we traveled to two remote villages up in the mountains. The communities were built by the Caring House Project started by Frank McKinney. The foundation built 24 self-sufficient villages. Each village consists of concrete and steel homes. Plans are in the works for three more this year. This is a big deal, as many homes are still in disrepair since the earthquake of 2010. Scott and Frank have put their heart and soul into giving back. Over the last several years they have joined forces and work together as partners and are great friends.

I share this story often, as it moved me deeply. I met a man selling his wares on the beach. I wanted to support him so I bought some souvenirs I didn’t need. He was kind. We talked. I asked him how he was doing and how he fared after the earthquake. He showed me the scar on his ankle where he had been trapped. He shared that he lost his wife and mother. He lives in a makeshift tent of metal and some sort of plastic roof while he saves money for an apartment. This was 2016. He tells me his children cry and are scared when there is a bad storm. I begin to cry. This man puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “no Lisa, don’t worry, God is good.” Go figure, this man with so little was comforting me.

When I travel, I create many individual images. I make actual prints and hand deliver. This is not always possible but it’s the most fun. Much of the time I print when I return home and figure out how to get them there later. It’s very important to me that each individual has an actual print of himself or herself looking beautiful. Many of my subjects have never had a professional picture taken. And chances are they may not have that opportunity again.

Our talents are blessing and are meant to be shared. It’s our job to figure out what they are and use them for good. I’m grateful for my gifts. Sharing them is a blessing.

The photograph below really intrigued me. I don’t think you can tell but the two teenagers embracing are teenage boys. I was surprised at how openly they were sharing their affection. The younger kids had a good laugh and pointed fingers. I didn’t understand what they were saying. My minimal French doesn’t translate well to Creole.

It takes a village, or at least one family member. This image speaks to a child’s need to feel safe. We all need to feel loved and protected, especially children.

I took up ballroom dancing at Feathers, a Haitian Ballroom owned by Pauly Pierre. Dancing can be incredibly joyous. Words cannot describe the energy, warmth, and community on the dance floor. This joie de vivre was clearly evident at Feathers. I made great friends. Sadly, Feathers closed but my friendships endure.

Haiti’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, left 220,000 people dead, 300,000 injured and rubble nearly everywhere. Subsequently, a Cholera outbreak infected over 700,000 people. Deforestation has left the land very vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes. Flooding, mudslides and wind damage are part of life and death in Haiti.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. For many, life is a struggle. But as my friend on the beach reminded me, they have faith and thank God for that.

26 Comments

  1. Nancey Rosensweig

    Phenomenal photos, Lisa…….you should meet my good friend Martine Jean Baptiste, who started
    http://www.fahminc.org/team/

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Nancey. I checked out her site. I would love to meet her. Maybe when we finally see it other we can make it a threesome…or not. I hope I get to see you in the flesh before another 40 years. xo

      Reply
  2. shari

    Beautiful.

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Shari. :-))) Just doing my thing.

      Reply
  3. Dena Nathanson

    I’d never get there on my own, so thank you for a trip to Haiti thru your Fabulous photos!    Black and white with color is so cool!  I love your mission to get a print to each of your subjects.  I look forward to our next adventure.  Love you and your generous heart Lisa!

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Dena. You are always welcome on my journeys! I’ll be your surrogate. LOL

      Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      THanks Dena. You will be traveling with me again soon!!!
      Xoxo

      Reply
  4. Rose medrano

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos, they touch my heart.

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Couldn’t ask for a better response. You touch my heart.

      Reply
  5. Gigi

    Wow Lisa, what a beautiful story and collective of pictures you captured?  Love you girl…..hugs

    Reply
  6. Gigi

    I’ve visited Haiti 4 times but have not had the privilege you’ve had.  Gigi Graves

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      We’ll just have to go back together. We can dance and find some service too!

      Reply
  7. Ellen

    This is my most favorite of all your blogs.wonderful, fabulous, sharing your heart and your talent..love ❤️ 

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Ellen. As Feathers alumni we know well the joy and heart in Haiti.
      Happy to be able to share.
      Xo

      Reply
  8. Lisa Kaufmann

    Lisa, 
    Thank you for sharing a glimpse of the heart and soul of the Haitian people. The joy in the faces of the children you were shooting made me smile! I am sure they will never forget your love and kindness! 

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Lisa. Happy to make you smile!
      That’s makes me smile. My work makes me snails. ???

      Reply
  9. Sandra Muvdi

    Lisa, what an amazing experience to travel to Haiti and see with your own eyes the reality of many children living in absolute poverty.  The photos reveal your great talent as you make them feel at ease in front of the camera’s eye. My favorite photo is with the kids in action dancing.  Sending each their photo will be treasured.  You would LOVE going on Semester at Sea as a Lifelong Learner!

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Sandra. I’m sure I would love that… my husband not so much! Lol
      I will continue to do my thing. I’ve got lots more to share. Can’t wait to start our project. I Will post in September my cancer kids. And I will show the joy even when things are bad.
      When I come back let’s make that date. Off to Bali tomorrow!!!

      Reply
  10. Andrea Colton

    These photos are incredible. I was mesmerized. Amazing work and an amazing subject.

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Andrea. Long time no see! Congrats on your retirement.
      I’m lucky to do what I do. Love to the family.
      Xoxox

      Reply
  11. Fritzi

    Lisa, I’m so moved by your wholistic approach to sharing the human collective with us. Your photos are stunning, heartbreaking, educational and so professional. Your words and intentions are just a gift, Spiritual layers blended with history/herstory. You are more than fulfilling your commitment to Spirit/the Holy Mystery by using your gifts and talents in such a philonthropic way. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Fritzi… just doing my job. My Dharma job. Xoxoxox

      Reply
  12. Cousins Jack and Lora

    Amazing photography and commentary Lisa.   The work you do makes our hearts feel good.

    Reply
    • Lisa Nalven

      Thanks Jack. I was just looking at you again… tapping. Sorry I’m so slow. It took me two years to post Haiti. Hopefully less than that! Lol xo

      Reply
  13. Jennifer Grace

    This post is by far my fav so far…these pictures are so compelling..you are such a gifted artist and incredible human being. 

    Reply

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is a Portrait Photographer who specializes in people, floral art and capturing our collective humanity