Groundwork for Haiti Inc
While photographing images of the devastation in Haiti, I saw first hand how my friends and fellow Haitians were organizing themselves and helping thousands in need.
During my visit to Haiti, I followed and photographed my friends Johnny Saati and Frederic Bellande and their families as they coordinated the delivery and distribution of rice, beans, oil and water. I also worked with Liliane and Sandra Holland, who hand delivered bags of food around Port-au-Prince to single mothers and their children.
While large organizations are certainly doing their part in this tragedy, I realized how Haitians, who are familiar with the country, the language and the customs of the people, were able to mobilize themselves quickly and efficiently.
My friends were not getting paid for this work…it was Haitians helping Haitians. They hired men who were out of work to unload the food trailers. Mothers and their children helped pack individual bags of food for other families in need. They were all fed, given drinking water and paid for their involvement.
Upon my return from Haiti, my girlfriend and fellow photographer, Lorraine Daley and I, spoke about how many of the larger organizations seemed bogged down in bureaucracy, causing inefficiencies in getting supplies to the people. We noted the efficacy of my Haitian friends’ efforts on the ground. We also knew we were able to give a much higher percentage of our money or any other donations to helping the people, since we did not have executive salaries to pay and considerable operating costs. We knew we already had a pipeline established for the distribution of aid in place. Groundwork for Haiti was born out of this hands-on, on-the-ground, no-red-tape approach to actually getting people what they need – food, water, basic medical supplies and temporary housing.