Behind-the-Scenes | Discover Humanity: Haiti

Can a crazy idea make a difference? There is only one way to find out… Our journey to realize a crazy idea began on December 10th, 2018 as we two amateur filmmakers set off armed with a couple of backpacks full of equipment. To show the differences and similarities of human life worldwide and give people the chance to share a message with the world through short films, photographs, and online this was our mission. We chose Haiti as our first country due in part to the seemingly one-sided story it receives in the media and also to its placement far off the beaten tourist track. To accomplish our goal we needed an insider, someone who could not only navigate the intricacies of the Haitian culture but also the maze of our first location Port au Prince. Dodley, a young entrepreneur born and raised in one of Haiti’s largest ghettos joined us with enthusiasm as our Haitian producer, guide, and translator. He also quickly became our friend. Haiti’s capital city, and by far the largest in the country Port au Prince is a harsh place, full of pollution, traffic, and people struggling just to survive. During a quick visit to Dodley’s home we met a small, joyful band of children who led us into a run-down building, its roof covering a diamond. Deeply ingrained in Haitian culture is the mysterious and misunderstood religion of Voodoo. So when the opportunity came to experience a traditional Voodoo ceremony in the seaside town of Jacmel, we packed, found a car, and added Jacmel-born Jeanne to our group. They say if you can drive in the chaotic streets of Haiti you can drive anywhere. “It’s amazing.. it’s amazing.” Despite the treacherous potholes, and the other drivers’ disregard for traffic lanes, with Manos at the wheel we drove the winding mountain road and made many filming stops along the way, much to the curiosity of locals. Half a day later we made it to Jacmel and were warmly welcomed into Jeanne’s family home. At the Voodoo ceremony we stuck out like sore thumbs watched from all sides as we carefully aimed our cameras. We were there to film something foreign but we realised that the most foreign thing in the room was us. But slowly, they accepted our filming and by the end they invited us to join in. Challenges waited around every corner from rescheduled flight to broken cars and hours spent roasting in traffic jams. In the ghettos of Port au Prince, pulling out a camera is the same as pulling out a gun. But even in the hardest places we found people who wanted to share their messages with the rest of the world. “Love. Love. Love.” “Thank you, sir.” “Good?” “Yea, it’s good.” But by far the most difficult thing was discovering an equipment problem at the last minute; we had almost no useable audio from our interviews. In spite of all this, we kept going with our goal to create a real look at life in Haiti always in focus. And along this journey we met incredible people; artists, farmers, traders, teachers… By the time we left, Dodley had become a brother, his hard work and passion for his country touched our hearts. “Humanity” To finish off in the country we took off for Cap Haitien, the largest city in the north coast, home to Haiti’s cruise ship port and important historical sites. Whenever we were feeling frustrated by challenges, or exhausted by long days, our spirits were revived by the messages of hope, kindness, and desire for a united future that we heard from the people we interviewed. A bold choice for our first country and a steep learning curve, we are forever grateful to Haiti for its challenges and its triumphs. And most importantly… for our newfound friends.


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