Photographer Steven Taylor traveled to Haiti with actor-musician Common to learn about the plight of the Restavek children, where a traditional route to education has dissolved into forced labor. He says they both came away changed by the experience.
“The most shocking moment was when I saw a group of children shaking a fence, begging for food and money,” Taylor said. “I had never seen such desperation before.”
Restavek – from a French word meaning “to stay with” – began with the noble intentions of educating children from rural villages, but over the years, it has been twisted so that many children are now exploited rather than helped.
About 300,000 children are working as domestic servants in Haiti. The United Nations says the deeply rooted practice is a form of modern-day slavery.
Taylor joined Common and the CNN Freedom Project on a trip to the country for the filming of the documentary “Common Dreams.” As a music and celebrity photographer, he had worked with Common before. He says he approached the project the same way he does any assignment.
“I want my clients, whomever they may be, to leave with the truest photos they’ve ever seen of themselves,” Taylor said. “I want to capture the soul of the subject.”
But he also pointed out that the experience made him more aware of the contrast between his life and the lives of people in Haiti.
“That heightened awareness will continue to affect my life and keep me grounded,” he said, “which made this trip a crucial step in my career.”
- Leif Coorlim, CNN