On the south side of Haiti in the mountains above Jacmel is the county of LaVallée. There are approximately 40,000 residents in the villages within the county and the Hospital St. Joseph is in the village Ridoré. There is no running water or electricity and Hazardous road conditions make it almost impossible to travel on limiting medical treatment.
In 1986 the Association Haitienne de Développement Humain, Inc. (AHDH) was formed by a group of Haitian doctors based in New Orleans and St. Joseph’s became their mission. The death rate due to complication at birth was extremely high—but that was only one issue facing the people in LaVallée. Like in most undeveloped countries, there lies within every imaginable sickness illness and disease including Tuberculosis, Malaria, Cancer, Tumors, Cataracts, Hernias, and everything in between. When we arrive at St. Joseph’s it is overwhelming to see the number of people waiting. The doctors and nurses leave at the end of the mission saying, “we did not do enough” and they begin planning the next mission.
In 2005 I was introduced to AHDH a non-profit medical team of mostly Haitian doctors and nurses who travel to Haiti three times a year—I joined them as their photographer. AHDH is dedicated to the health and wellness of all people who come to the Hospital St. Joseph. Photographing on medical missions has changed my life; made me rethink the meaning of life and how I will continue to live it. Over the years of my involvement with AHDH I have photographed the progress being made—I have documented everything from cataract surgery to the removal of feces from the stomach of a young boy dying from a perforated bowel caused by typhoid—I photographed as nurses lovingly cared for people sick with cholera—I met children suffering from advanced malnutrition. I have photographed the first breath of a new life and an elder at the end of his life. I watched as the dedicated doctors patiently waited in the middle of surgery for the engineers to restart the generator so they could continue. I photographed as a family was told to take the woman who was in labor to Jacmel because the Hospital was still not equipped to do cesarean surgery. In 2010 after the earthquakes the doctors performed the first cesarean birth—they finally had the equipment and medicine to do so. We all remain hopeful for the future of the people and the Hospital St. Joseph.
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Association Haitienne de Développement Humain, Inc. (AHDH)