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Posts Tagged ‘Pictures’

Four-Women-B+W

I recently went to the Healing Hands for Haiti prosthetic and orthopedic clinic in downtown PAP to assist a photographer who was shooting pictures for the Red Cross, and had the time to shoot some pictures myself.  The clinic has been up and running since just after the earthquake, and according to their Program Director (and our neighbor) Al Ingersoll, they’ve been busy ever since.  “We have about 20 people coming in here every day,” he explained, “and we’ve seen over 400 cases so far.”

Boy-without-a-Foot

Girl-Sitting-on-Chair-with-Prosthetic-B+W

20 year-old Evena Prince had just returned home from school when the earthquake hit.  “I was taking a nap when everything started to shake,” she explained while sitting on a plastic chair holding her prosthetic leg, “I ran out of the house and a building fell on me.”  She was rushed to the hospital, but the injuries to her leg were too severe, and doctors amputated the limb.  “I never thought I would walk again,” she said, “but now that I have this leg I can do things that I couldn’t do when I had to walk with crutches.”

Woman-with-crutches

Prosthetics

For physiotherapist Gillian Fergusson, every day brings a new set of challenges.  “We see about 20 patients a day, sometimes more,” she explained, “but we are training a local staff to be able to help the patients learn how to use their prosthetics.”

Duilio Barreto is a prosthetic technician who lost his leg during a war in Nicaragua, and is helping to train the Haitian staff. For him, he knows what these people are going through, and wants to make sure the experience of getting a new leg is a positive one. “I was given a prosthetic that didn’t fit, it hurt me,” he explained while installing padding on a prosthetic leg, “that’s why I take extra care to make sure it’s perfect, I don’t want these people going through what I did.”

As he walks through the workshop he wears shorts so that the Haitians getting their new limbs can relate to him. “I know what it’s like to not have a leg,” he said, “I hope I can be a source of inspiration for these people. To give them hope knowing that if I can do it, so can they.”

Sanding-Prosthetic

Tools-of-the-Trade

Adjusting-Prosthetic

And while the well-staffed prosthetics workshop is working every day to give people new limbs, Gillian says that the conditions here make it hard to fit some people.  “There are a lot of difficult stumps in Haiti,” she explained while helping a patient walk on crutches, “you have boney stumps or scar tissue that takes longer to heal and that’s harder to fit around.”  She also says that children pose a particularly tough situation.  “You sometimes have to refit children with a new prosthetic every 6 months, which is hard on the child,” she explained, “and with the poor job that was done with amputations just after the earthquake, sometimes the bone is growing faster than the skin, making it hard to fit a prosthetic around it properly.”

But even with all the issues that fitting Haitians with prostheses poses, Gillian says that all the hard work is worth it.  “When someone comes in here and can’t walk or has to use crutches and then they leave with the ability to walk, that’s a really positive thing, it’s a great feeling.”

Daunting-Task

Boy-with-Soccer-Ball

And while visiting a clinic like this would, at first, seem like a very depressing thing to do, it’s actually turned out to be a really positive experience.  “A lot of these people went through the grieving process in the hospital,” Gillian explained, “when they get here they are learning how to walk again, they are getting their life back.  It’s not a sad place at all, it’s a positive place for everyone.”  And she’s right.  These people all have a common bond that allows them to learn and grow together.  While I have always been terrified of losing a limb myself, seeing the strength among these people makes you feel weak for pitying them.  They might have lost a limb, but they still have their lives, and in Haiti that’s something worth celebrating.

As a side-note, the photographer I was working with was awesome (you can see his work HERE), and he recommended I process the photos in black and white.  I did, and as a result I feel these pictures have more emotion in them than any of the pictures I have taken since being in Haiti. If you’re interested in seeing a larger slideshow of the pictures above (which I recommend), and others that I didn’t include here, you can click these words.

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An NBC team just left PAP after a quick, 5-day jaunt covering the World Cup craziness here in Haiti, and it was a great time.  We watched the World Cup on a huge 30 foot screen at the national soccer stadium, checked out some tent cities that are still really struggling, and were spectators for a good old Haitian soccer game played by teenagers on an old tennis court.  But the coolest thing we did, by far, was something that we hadn’t planned to do at all.

The picture above is the eternal flame built in 2003 by then-President Aristide to celebrate Haiti’s bicentennial, which was in 2004.  The tower is located only a stones throw from the Presidential Palace, and has exactly 200 steps to represent each year the country had been independent from France.

But the thing is, the torch has never been lit.  In fact, the tower has been unfinished ever since Aristide was ousted in 2004.  Aristide left the country, construction halted, and now downtown PAP is left with this enormous, ugly, monolith which makes you think they had the Olympics here, until you think about it again and realize how that would never (EVER) happen.

So we were driving around Champs de Mars looking for interesting things to shoot when I asked our fixer, Handy, if he thought we could get to the top.  It would make for some amazing shots, and I had my camera with me which means I could get an updated picture of the Presidential Palace to put on here.  We drove through the gates, Handy talked to the guard, I flashed my press credentials, and we started the climb up the 200 rickety, dilapidated metal stairs.

Once on top the view was breathtaking.  You could see the Palace, the tent cities surrounding it, the port, the mountains, it was incredible.  I started feverishly taking pictures, worried I would never get this chance again.  I snapped the Palace, the people in the tent cities, people getting water from a water truck (OMG, more people getting water from a water truck! *SNAP*)  I went around and around about half-a-dozen times before I realized what I could potentially do.

I turned to the cameraman shooting video of the city from above and asked him, “How hard is it to make a panoramic picture out of a bunch of shots you took?” “Easy,” he responded, “if you have Photoshop it’s really simple.”  Well, I have Photoshop (YES!), so I took one more trip around the tower’s top level taking as many level shots as possible, and making sure to avoid the rail-less edges of the platform.  I brought the photos home, ingested them into my computer, and 10 minutes later this popped out:


(Click on the photo for a larger view)

The panoramic photo is a 360˚ view of Port-au-Prince from Champs de Mars, and it turned out pretty awesome.  The 360˚ part of it kinda throws off your sense of direction, so as a point of reference the large mountain in the middle is south, and the left and right edges connect to make north.  If you look closely at the horizon there are some places where it just doesn’t connect, but it’s still a pretty awesome view of the city in a way that I’ve never seen it before.  As you can see, there aren’t really any buildings taller than the tower, so this panoramic pretty much encapsulates the entire place.

To end this on a slight side note, I apologize for the lack of posts recently.  Obviously with work, and other issues (Olie), taking over it’s been a little hectic so posts have been sparse.  They’ll be back soon, as there’s a ton of stuff going on around here.  Cheers!

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Home at last

Just a quick post with the first picture from here.  Jillian with her old staff…Jeanba, Jean Marie, Milo, and Franz.  Milo was the one that found Jillian in the rubble and started the digging.  It was a pretty great reunion, they really love her, and she really loves them.  You can even see the tears in Jean Marie’s eyes (he’s such a sap).  This is exactly why we are here in Haiti, because of these people.

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