Joshua Watts
Haiti Portfolio

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This gallery is composed of work I have produced since returning from a medical mission trip to Haiti in October of 2007. My experience was before the recent earthquake devastation, which has made an unbelievably desperate situation even worse. After seeing the conditions before, this idea seems impossible to me, yet is the reality we are currently facing. The trip was organized by a group that brings together people with medical backgrounds from around the United States to visit Haitian villages, bringing supplies and personnel to provide help to people without any other access to medical facilities. We were housed for the week at an orphanage in a town called St. Ard, which has one of the best clinics available in Haiti. From an American perspective, the facilities would be considered rudimentary and unsanitary, but in Haiti it was one of the best available to the people who live there.

We drove to different villages each day, leaving before dawn so that we could arrive and accomplish as much as possible before having to return to the orphanage in the early evening. We could not stay out after dark because the roads are very dangerous and many people, especially foreigners, can be kidnapped for reward money. Each village was a different experience and had its own set of challenges and needs. We hiked to many of them, up to an hour and a half from the road. Our Haitian guides would carry the medical supplies up the hills and ridges, balancing the heavy load on their heads while walking at a pace most of us had trouble matching.

In each village, we would set up a makeshift medical area in whatever structure was available. Usually, it was a cinder- block building with a tin roof and dirt floor, serving also as the area school, church, and community center. I worked with the dental team on most stops- washing instruments in bleach, holding a flashlight to see into the patient's mouth, and even pulling teeth sometimes. The patients sat in old wooden chairs that seemed ready to break at any time. Space was so limited that we would usually be working back to back with patients sitting next to each other in the dimly- lit room.

All of us were sweating constantly in the heat, which would become more and more stifling as a day wore on and was made even more unbearable by the close quarters and small space. Walking outside of the makeshift clinics would bring the relief of fresh air, but brought the even worse discomfort of seeing the crowds of people waiting outside for treatment. We never made it to all of the people coming for help at any of the villages and always boarded the bus with untreated patients watching as we left.

At many points during the trip, I found myself trying to come to terms with the overwhelming problems facing everyone I would meet. Lack of clean water, sanitation, food, clothing- all of the basic necessities we take for granted are precious commodities. But none of these issues seemed to be too much for the Haitians. They have a hope for the future of themselves, their friends, and their families, which is embodied by the children in the villages we would travel to. Schoolchildren wearing uniforms, mothers getting their kids ready for the day, and children playing in the streets without a care in the world. Moments like these were striking in that setting, something which seemed much too normal and hopeful amid the desperate environment.

I have attempted to present the experience to a viewing public in a way that accurately reflects the situation and is respectful to the people and places I am representing. My goal is to give viewers some idea of the dire conditions in Haiti while not forgetting the hope which still remains despite everything. This work is a result of my personal experiences while in Haiti and serves as both a record and a reflection of the time I was able to spend with the people who live each day in such difficult and challenging circumstances.

Joshua Watts

 
 
Phyllis dentist donkey door  
Ms. Phyllis Above the Waterline The Haitian Dentist Untitled (the donkey's clutch) The Door is Open (The Way is Blocked)  
flight flood many onHill  
Flight (away) The Steady Horizon The One and the Many The Four Watch from the Hilltop  
outside overflow raven stop  
Outside, With Offerings Abundance Through Hope Raven Brings Four Above the Flood STOP.  
teeth tree two walk  
Untitled (teeth) The Water and The Tree Two More From the Maw Walking Through Fire and Water  
xOut        
The Uninvited      

 

 

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