Filmmaking, for me, is about the experience, ideas, and relationships you build while capturing your story. Motivated by my observations of people while covering Hurricane Katrina, my initial goal with “Adopting Haiti” was to document people who had been thrown into a circumstance out of their control; who were later able to emerge from the ashes stronger then before.
“Adopting Haiti” began with a simple post on Facebook, “Anyone want to sponsor a poor student filmmaker to Haiti?” Within eight hours I had two plane tickets and took off with a friend, a change of clothes, some food, fake press passes, and camera gear. Landing in the Dominican Republic we hitchhiked into Haiti, enduring heat, hours on busses, and increasing tension as we approached the earthquake zone.
Being a college student, and the youngest child in my family, I had never spent a lot of time around children, and I would never have imagined spending the last seven months working on a story about orphans. Prior to leaving for Haiti I contacted La Maison des Enfants de Dieu, where my documentary unfolds. We only intended to sleep at the orphanage, but as the situation became more desperate, and as the mainstream press took interest, the story unfolded before our eyes -and our cameras.
On a personal note, the people we met in Haiti, and the stories they told will stick with me for the rest of my life. From the Haitians who describe living through the earthquake to the volunteer workers who dropped everything to help, I drew my inspiration. In the end I learned that, while I may not be the best with children, children really are our future. And while I may not know how to take care of them, I still have a desire and responsibility to help them whenever possible.
After the film’s release I hope people will come away with a better understanding of what has happened to the Haitian people, especially the children following the earthquake. I also hope audiences appreciate the efforts of those who volunteer abroad, risking their own health and safety on behalf of others as well as see the role of the media in a new light.
I know I did.
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