In May I, along with Erinn and our friend Michael, traveled to Port-au-Prince to work on a project on the NGO Global DIRT. More on that will surely follow later once the project is completed and hopefully published. The following images were shot along the way. Our trip was brief (though I may be going back), but thanks to the busy life of Adam, the subject of our story, we got to see quite a bit as we tagged along on his daily routine – though routine is hardly the word for anyone working in Port-au-Prince. Every day brought us somewhere different, from a prison cell in Petionville that holds police officers to the slums of La Saline and up to a strikingly beautiful beach just an hour and a half drive north of PaP where he took his medical volunteers for their day off, the range of experiences was vast. We even got to watch some of a fairly lavish wedding reception from the balcony of the home where DIRT is based, but were called away just as it was getting underway. My only regret is not having more time to shoot what I saw since we had to stick close by our subject should anything happen. But it’s a great story and the trade off was fair.
Port-au-Prince is a different city than the last time I was there four years ago, but at the same time is strikingly the same. The city and its residents have been through more than most of us can fathom, but two years after the quake, much of life appears to be back to normal. Signs remain though in the form of a handful of tent cities and the crumbled facades of many buildings, particularly downtown where major landmarks such as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and the National Palace still stand, roofs caved in. We were told that behind the Palace there is actually an intact building where the government is still run and that it’s being left as is largely to symbolize the ongoing need for help or the dissatisfaction with what’s been done to date. Another change I felt was a desensitization to the presence of foreigners. Last time I was there I recall being stared at quite a bit with frequent shouts of “blan” as I passed. With an estimated 10,000 aid workers in PaP post-quake, our presence seemed much less notable this time. Other than that, I found it surprising and encouraging that normal life is resuming. However, being back to where they were before the earthquake stills leaves much to be improved. There’s a ray of hope for the economy with the recent discovery of an estimated $20 billion worth of gold and other precious metals in the north, but I’ll remain skeptical until I hear that the wealth is handled fairly and doesn’t end up only in the pockets of the powerful, or worse lead to the type of conflict seen in Sierra Leone. Still, it’s promising and would be amazing if it one day lead to their independence from foreign aid.
There are many more photos below the jump and I’ll also post some more on Facebook. Find my page (and like it!) here: http://www.facebook.com/DavidZentzPhotography