THIS PICTURE epitomizes Haiti for me. This boy had just ran nearly a mile to keep up with our van in the stop-and-go traffic clogging the exits of Port Au Prince.
The van was headed West through what you might consider a suburb, Muriani, not the best neighborhood. This boy had ran along side our bus because one of our Haitian handlers had given him a pack of Pringles.
Instantly happy, his smile was the first I’d seen in Haiti. And he refused to let it go. Every antic he could fashion for us while still keeping up with the bus he proudly showed off: striking poses of every style, modeling, jumping, laughing, waving his only bill promptly dug out of his pocket.
This boy was blissful and enjoying the attention. I was mesmerized by him. There were more pictures at the end of my trip of this single, ecstatic boy than any other subject. But this picture above was the last I was able to shoot of him before our van turned and headed off.
As soon as I was home everyone asked what Haiti was like. I responded with a mixture of adulation, frustration, outright anger, and confusion. I had no real answer. I was incapable of conjuring the words necessary to express my experiences.
But this boy was, is, my teacher. His dusty knees and knuckles. The joy that radiated from his face. All around him, scattered trash, Haitians oblivious to their surroundings and a UN soldier attempting to direct traffic, Kalashnikov in hand, and he was flashing his white smile my way. He shared a moment of joy, a risk of happiness.
To learn more of the backstory of Jared’s trip, please read Matador member plans spring break volunteer project in Haiti.
For more perspectives from volunteers’ experiences, please read Segundo’s Notes from a Medical Volunteer.