I never liked it that the people—Haitians—who really did the rescuing were in the shadows, while my mug was splattered all over the screen. Of course, there wasn’t much I could do about this at the time, short of bringing my own Director of Photography. But I could go back and find those people and show one example I witnessed of how Haitians really were helping Haitians during the catastrophe.
I don’t find it helpful for Haitians to see only images of us well-meaning blans performing all the do-gooder work, especially when there were tens of thousands—or millions—Haitians clawing at the rubble with their bare hands throughout the night. I wish I could have done more of that, showing the heroism I saw in everyday people.
There was one nurse who stitched up three wide gashes in her neighbor’s arm on the side of a dusty alley, without anesthesia, for hours in the dark night. The only light was provided by Vladimir and me taking turns holding a minors lamp on the wound as she meticulously pushed the hook into the woman’s meaty flesh. It was not a smooth operation, as motorcycles and cars riding by kicked up dust all around as they passed. But she stayed steady, crouching over the patient for hours until her skin was mended.
The next morning, Vladimir and I arose before dawn and started to walk back to Port-au-Prince. We saw this nurse outside Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Boarders) in a sea of mangled bodies, trying to help heal some wounds with no proper tools. She probably hadn’t slept all night but she was out there, sitting on the street, her hands on the broken bodies of her country-folk. I wish I could have shown more of that to the world. This video will have to do—for now.