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.