We not back long from Haiti where myself and Jenny Barker were shooting a short film for the well known Irish charity Haven. The filming took place on the island of ílle a Vache, approx 6.5 miles off the south west coast of Haiti where Haven have being implementing livelihood programmes for the locals since 2012. Since it’s inception prior to the 2010 earthquake which devastated the region, Haven have being carrying out much needed support and charitable work for the Haitian people, from repairs to house building, tree planting to new paths, solar lighting to sanitation. As can well be imagined, the earthquake dramatically increased the workload but the success they have achieved in the area has remained phenomenal. Taking everything they have learned on the mainland, Haven arrived on the island of ílle a Vache and created a series of livelihood programmes designed to both help and empower the local communities. These programmes range from house building and repairs using the local labor force which they train and employ, boat building and repairs of new larger and safer vessels for the local fishermen, sanitation and clean water initiatives, a very successful sewing programme which now has local women and men producing and selling original handmade products for the American market, and safety initiatives including path building and solar lighting.
The aim of the film was to show these initiatives through the experiences of the local communities, and to hear how these programmes empowered their everyday lives. It was a humbling experience to sit down with people who made do with so little, yet had such faith and strong will towards their future and the future of their children. I was blessed to have had Jenny on the trip with me, as she is an old hand in Haiti from her multiple photographic assignments both on ílle a Vache and the mainland. She knew every inch of the island from the point of view of a photographer, and was able to introduce me to so many people over the duration of the trip as well as acting as second camera and co-director during the shooting days.
I hope you enjoy the film as much as we enjoyed making it. It made it’s public premiere at the Haven Charity Ball in the Intercontinental Dublin at the end of last month, where much of the needed funding for 2016 was raised. As you might guess, there was a lot filmed which unfortunately could not make it into the final master edit due to time restraint – but if I ever decide to make a documentary about the work that is done in Haiti, I will already have a lot of footage in the can!
A huge thank you to Haven’s Country Director in Haiti John Moore who was an amazing host, tour guide, producer, co-director, location manager and entertaining dinner companion. To Haven staff member Farah, who doubled as our interpreter during the trip as my French was very poor, and my Criole non-existent! To general manager Antonia King who helped put the entire trip together and got us safely there and back, and to Deirdre and Sarah for their hospitality, knowledge and help during our time on the mainland. Below are a few behind the scenes images taken during the shoot days.