Leave Home Stay in Haiti

In February, 2010, I travelled to Haiti after the devastating earthquake. It was action prompted by my own inaction after a long hard winter still in Deal. I felt I should take a leap of faith and go and do something, as a journalist or otherwise. Looking online for a cheap charter flight to the Dominican Republic, from which I'd bus across to Haiti, I noticed the holiday company, Firstchoice, had launched an appeal asking tourists returning to the UK from the Dominican Republic to donate toiletries for Haiti. I asked if I could follow a batch of donations to Haiti. A few days the company offered me a seat on a holiday flight leaving a few days later with volunteer medics and urgent hospital medication for the Haiti Hospital Appeal

I travelled with the three young medics to the HHA's hospital in Cape Haitien, which was by now treating paraplegic earthquake victims. I intended to stay simply overnight, but stayed for a week as a volunteer. When I travelled south to Port au Prince it was in the back of a 4 x 4 HHA ambulance with two patients who were going home, six weeks after the earthquake. I met up with the Haven Partnership, an NGO contact found through a serendipitous conversation on a Dublin flight. Thanks to their hospitality, I was able to spent several days shadowing them as they visited tented villages around Port au Prince.

The extraordinary resilience and dignity of Haitians I met in both those locations was humbling and moving. On my return to England a notebook full of stories of hope and courage, I reported for the BBC's 'From Our Own Correspondent'.

When the news agenda swiftly moved on, I looked for other ways to tell those stories, and was inspired to make a photo installation, Leave Home Stay in Haiti. The placing of enlarged and unframed images of domestic life in Haiti together with my own furniture and effects symbolises a shared quest for 'home', even under such different circumstances. The reportage includes a clip from a security film captured remotely on 12th January, 2010, and a 35 second loop of images. Family workshops, and an audioscape of domestic sounds from my kitchen in 2007, playing in a tent in the garden, offer reflection on 'What Makes a Home?'. I hope to install the work in other spaces which are lived in - or left - and in other parts of the world, each time gathering another layer of domestic document about what home means today.



Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent - March 2010 >>>

Radio 4 - Midweek - July 2010 >>>


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