An estimated 316,000 people were killed when a massive earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, devastating an already troubled nation.
Photojournalist Ron Haviv arrived in Port-au-Prince the next morning to find a city that was reduced to rubble and “almost deafening in its silence.” He returned to the area last month to document the situation two years later.
“What hits me the hardest whenever I’m in Haiti is how the majority of people are struggling against great odds to better their life and the lives of their children,” he says.
Haviv, a co-founder of the renowned VII photo agency, began covering the turmoil in Haiti in 1990. His trip in December focused on the country’s vulnerable children, who often end up targeted by human trafficking networks.
Haiti had about 350,000 orphans before the earthquake and as many as 1 million afterward, according to government estimates. Many had parents who gave them up because they were unable to care for them.
“Even though there will be an uptick of interest in Haiti due to the anniversary of the earthquake, it is important to remind people that the struggle in Haiti continues even though the headlines are no longer focusing on it,” Haviv says.
During his recent visit, Haviv spent time in Cite Soleil, a dangerous and extremely impoverished slum. In order to maintain a low profile, he captured images using the camera on his iPhone.
“I think any device that allows me to be able to communicate to an audience can have a role in documentary photography,” Haviv says, noting that Haitians have become increasingly sensitive about having their picture taken.
He also visited a daycare center for destitute mothers and temporary shelters for homeless children. Although Haiti has begun rebuilding, more than half a million people still live in displacement camps, according to the United Nations.
Haviv hopes to raise awareness and help shape a better future for Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. A monthlong exhibit of his work opens Thursday, January 12, at the Swedish Museum of Photography in Stockholm.
Despite the fear that things will remain stagnant or get worse, Haviv says he has witnessed the resilience of the Haitian people.
“Haiti has always been a place of kinetic energy and vibrancy,” he says. “It’s encouraging to see that energy returning gradually over the last two years.”
- Brett Roegiers, CNN