Yesterday I arrived back home in Belgium after a 6 weeklong trip to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, New York and Washington DC. It definitely was one of the best trips I ever had.
It all started in New York, when I arrived there on the 3rd of March. I looked into my emails and found a message of my professor of the LCC (London College of Communication). He congratulated me on winning the 3rth place in the category “Multimedia Portfolio” in the Picture of the Year international Award. I had no idea; nobody of the organisation “POYi” had notified me. I didn’t want to believe it until I got an official email a week later. It’s amazing, what a wonderful feeling to get such a high recognition for the hard work. All my gratitude goes to Frederic Biegmann, who helped me for weeks, day and night, to produce the different multimedia pieces.
On the 7th of March carnival was celebrated in Haiti. During 2 days I spent my time in Port-au-Prince watching, photographing and dancing in the parades. All Haitians told me that it this year’s carnival wasn’t as nice as the year’s before because of a lack of money. In my opinion (I have never been in Haiti for carnival before) it was a stunning celebration. The costumes were beautifully self-made and the dances looked spectacular.
In my last blogpost I have posted the pictures and the story I have worked on in the DR. For nine days I went almost every day into the Bateys (name of the towns where Haitian immigrant workers live) and documented their really hard work and life. Like I said before: It makes me angry that this topic has been an issue since a long time, but there are no visible improvements. The companies continue to exploit the people, treating them almost like slaves.
Back in Haiti
On the day that Aristide arrived in Port-au-Prince, I went back to Haiti. I was too late to see him at the airport, but I went straight to his house where hundreds of people were having a big party. They stormed into his house and apparently robbed him. It was crazy being in the middle of a yelling crowd and it felt great. Much more exciting than the elections two days later – they went very well and calm – no demonstrations, no overwhelming emotions and not much fraud.
On the 4rth of April they announced the results and Martelly, the singer “Sweet Micky” was the winner - he got 67% of the votes. All around the country people were happy, celebrating and dancing as if they had won the world cup. For me it was a wonderful evening. I run into the middle of the crowd, jumping on and off cars of strangers who were all driving into the direction of Martellys house. I was just happy to be a part of this event of tremendous sentiments.
The highlight of my trip was the end, when I went to Washington DC. Last December I met a man on the plane, he was sitting right next to me. His name is Charles ‘Chic’ Dambach, he is the CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. I was fascinated by the story of his life (which he also just published in a book) and decided to go and see him in Washington, where he lives. We spent 3 days together, he invited me to his house and the next day we drove together to Virginia where he had 2 book readings that weekend. It was awesome to spend time with him and listen to his stories. I got so much inspiration to continue what I am doing and work even harder for a better world.
Check out his book, his life is amazing!