After reading Greg’s article yesterday, I spent the entire night looking at photographs of the Haiti Earthquake. I am originally from Pakistan and on 8th October 2005 Pakistan was hit by a massive earthquake too. I had never experienced anything like that before. My city, Lahore wasn’t affected by the earthquake as badly as the Northern parts of Pakistan were. I was an undergraduate student then and experiencing it first hand, we all (students) got together and put a camp for the victims, we collected food, blankets, medicines, supplies and took them to the various hospitals.
We met several victims of the earthquake and it was shocking. I had never seen so many homeless people with lost relatives, broken body parts and missing limbs. Their eyes full of tears and fear, babies crying, there were several dead bodies and it was incredibly painful to witness. Although, they had lost everything ; the one thing they hadn’t lost was hope.
It was all very chaotic but we tried our best to make a difference. In the whole incident there is one thing that I remember clearly – meeting this one Pathan (People of the Tribal Northern Pakistan) girl. She was one of the Earthquake victims and had lost an arm and both her parents in the incident. We went and talked to her and asked her if she wanted anything. Her response surprised me.
She didn’t scream, shout or cry (like many others had). She looked me straight in the eye and said that ‘I hate it when people pity me, they don’t think I am human anymore, they treat me as if I am an object on display…if you really want to help me get me a few books so I can study and give my matric exam (high school equivalent)’. Her determination was impressive, she wanted to re-establish herself and believed that she could regain some of what was lost. We promised to get her the books and left.
But that conversation has never left me. Her words shook me and yesterday looking at the images of the Haiti Earthquake that whole incident came before my eyes. She made me realize that they (The Earthquake Victims) needed belief, hope and love more than they needed sympathy – that they were individuals who had the power to rise again.
When people go through something as massive as the Haiti earthquake they need others to believe that they can recover from it. Yes, they need our support, our donations, our help but they also need us to stand by them as they make this difficult journey. ‘Photographers for Haiti’ have put together an initiative to bring the lost hope back for Haiti.
I am writing this to introduce you all to Onè Respe – a book put together by various photographers to help Haiti regain it’s identity. “The title Haiti: Onè Respe comes from a traditional Haitian greeting meaning “honor and respect.” (MagCloud). The collection has photographs donated by photographers Chet Gordon, Kari Hartmann, Mary Ellen Mark, Peter Pereira and Lindsay Stark. The proceeds from the sale of this book go to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for Haiti relief.
The book is available at the purchase price of $12. Mag Cloud states on it’s site that, “Since MagCloud has generously offered to pay for the printing costs, your purchase price will be donated in full to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for Haiti relief.”
All images used in this article are from Haiti: Onè Respe available for preview on MagCloud
Written for and published on the Amvona Blog