Haiti is a fascinating country in many respects. You have rich historic and cultural heritage, diverse art scene and mystic spiritual culture. For the past two years I have met the city dwellers and village peasants, talked to deprived men and cute kids. We often see the images of Haitian children in dire need of food, clothes, medical supplies and, most importantly, parents. All these stories are individually heartfelt and touching.
However, as I have been driving around the streets of Port-au-Prince there has been one recurrent story which I found particularly compelling – that of Haitian women carrying loads of burden on their head for miles on end. And you can bet that they do it with more dignity and grace than any of us could carry half the weight in our hands.
To this day hundreds of women in Haiti are subjected to gender discrimination, sexual and physical violence, inhumane living conditions and lack of education. Reportedly, Haitian women and girls which were displaced by the 2010 earthquake and lived in the refugee camps were even more susceptible to violence. However, due to their willpower, hard work and determination to withstand any obstacle, Haitian women are widely viewed as one of the country’s main economic engines. I have been continuously inspired by the strength, resilience and courage with which these women carry on with their daily hardships despite the turmoil, destruction and violence that accompanies their life. With only few days left in the country, I want to dedicate this post to portraying everyday lifestyle and struggles of Haitian women as seen through a windshield of an armored car of the aid worker. For a long time I was hesitant whether it was worth publishing this post because the quality of my photos are so bad. However, in the end I think that the distorted quality of these pictures are reflective of the quality of the life they portray. There is not much I can tell, as the pictures speak of themselves. As you’ll see, each one of these women carry loads of weight, and no, it’s not just a physical weight…
There are many international donors and non-governmental organizations which implement projects in support of strengthening the role of Haitian women. For example, U.S. Agency for International Development, where I’ve been working in Haiti, is providing significant funding and technical assistance to support victims of sexual harassment and domestic violence, reduce gender based discrimination and encourage women’s empowerment. However, a lot remains to be done. If you want to learn more about existing projects in support of vulnerable Haitian women and young girls and feel compelled to contribute to their welfare, you can refer to the organizations below to solicit information.
- U.S. Agency for International Development in Haiti
- United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
- Amnesty International in Haiti
- International Rescue Committee
- UN Women