January 22, 2010

Seeing the Haitians

Haitian girl aide earthquake

Now that I’m not as starving and as desperate, who are you? And how does it feel that I’m taking this?

In my crash education on the country, what I’m consistently finding are eloquent descriptions of the Haitians, as evidenced — as observed last week — by their incredible patience and dignity in the face of overwhelming trauma and almost complete absence of sustenance.

Of course, what the photo raises, as much as anything, is the uneasy role of aide provision and how much America (expressed through the vector of this soldier’s gaze) can actually see the Haitian people at all.

Still, a week out, it’s gratifying to see — given the sensitivity of many fine photographers on the ground, along with the shock starting to wearing off — how much certain pictures are unfolding the personality of the Haitians and their emotional approach to their predicament.

(photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images: caption: Members of the 2nd brigade of the 82nd Airborne distribute food supplies January 19, 2010 the town of Terra Noire just outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti. One week after a devastating earthquake struck the capital city, residents are still struggling to obtain food, water, shelter and medical treatment.)

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Michael Shaw
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