Cité Soleil

Although the Cité Soleil markets were bustling (I finally got a chance to see how the clay mud cakes were being made), there was a shortage of money, supplies, and resources. Many buildings and living structures had collapsed and people were living in the streets under tarps, and we also came upon an area where an NGO had set up a tent encampment. The United Nations were stationed throughout Cité Soleil, and at one point Jean Ristil told me to grab my camera because of a commotion. The soldiers called for back up and walked through the tiny streets with their guns drawn ready for action, but the arguments led to dialogue with a neighborhood leader and there was no violence. Jean told me that the presence of a blan photographer probably helped the situation…but who knows for sure.

We visited our friends in Cité Soleil to bring donations – the wind up solar flashlight radios were the most appreciated – and to have a short Photography Workshop with children in Jean Ristil’s Fondasyon KoleZepol. This was our second Workshop with these kids and their first introduction to digital cameras. We gave them prints from their work with us last June, and also had them talk about their new images to the class and visitors using a laptop.  Our theme for the Photography Workshop was Healing Haiti, and the children took their assignment very seriously with two of them going all the way downtown to photography the National Palace and government buildings that had collapsed. While others took to the streets of their own neighborhoods photographing the devastation. At the end of our Workshop, Jean organized a small fete with a drummer and singers (these women volunteer with the kids and their own children are in the program) and we passed out candy and drinks. Zanmi Lakay donated funds to make purchases in the Cité Soleil markets so each child and staff member could go home with a bag of rice, beans, oil, candles, and other necessities.

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