The last thing Haiti needs right now is another photographer, as much as I would love to go and do just that. They needs hands and feet. If it is possible to rebuild Haiti into a country that thrives and rejects the sale of children into lives of slavery and all kinds of abuse, I want to know that I did everything I could to move it in that direction. Before the earthquake, 300,000 kids were living as slaves in Haiti. As I write this, children are being preyed upon with the promise of a meal and instead find themselves victims of human trafficking… their childhood and dignity stolen. While most of the rest of the world has generally moved on with their lives, as it is so easy to do when thousands of miles separate us… Twitter has kept me heartbroken. Specifically several tweeting individuals who are on the ground attacking these predators as intel is gathered. I will reject the notion that it is like reality TV and instead compare it to listening to a police radio. I find myself cheering over their small successes and weeping over the atrocities as they are encountering them.
Before the earthquake, families would sell or give their children away because they couldn’t afford to feed them or educate them. With virtually no public schools, education was a luxury for many and so the “loving” choice was to sell their children into what their families hoped would be a better life. Rarely was this the case. With these same Haitian families living in a world after so much death and destruction, their children are more vulnerable than they ever were before with resources being that much more scarce.
Just 30 miles outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, in a town called Jimani (inside the border of the Dominican Republic), World Vision is already looking at what the needs will be as this small town is already receiving thousands of refugees. To see what World Vision is doing right now in Jimani, click here for a recent press release.
In approximately two months, they will begin construction of a school for the children of Haitian refugees. Yes, it will teach children to read and write. They’ll find laughter and joy. They will play a role in the future of Haiti. As important as those things are, my heart rejoices in the fact that these children will be saved from a literal and spiritual hell. Jay and I will be traveling March 28th-April 2nd with a group of wedding professionals and will be setting our cameras aside to get our hands dirty. I have no idea how to build anything, let alone a school. But my hands and feet can learn.
This is where we need your help. We can’t get there alone. We covet your prayers, support, and toothbrushes (new ones, actually). With the generosity of so many businesses and individuals, we’re hosting a fundraising gala at the studio three weeks from today on February 18th at 7pm. We’re asking for a suggested donation of $10 but of course won’t limit you to that! The evening will include music and festivities, champagne, light hors d’oeuvres, and most importantly, a silent auction. I’ll detail a complete list soon, but to give you a small sampling, we have children and senior portrait sessions, children’s boutique clothing, photographer tools and action sets, letterpress stationary, use of a photo booth for your event or party, & classical guitar for a wedding ceremony, as well as many art pieces and professional services! This area is still open for donations as well… if you feel you have a product or service you’d like to contribute, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And funds raised above what is needed for the trip expense will be donated to World Vision as they are paying for all the construction materials for the school. We’ll also have an area with four open suitcases that we need your help filling. We’ve already received 216 bars of soap and 500 tampons (THANK YOU — you know who you are!!) and are looking to fill the rest of the suitcases with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys of the happy meal variety.
We also need your help getting the word out about this gala. It’s wonderful to have so many incredible items donated for the silent auction, but we need people there to benefit from the generosity of so many individuals! My entire business model is based off from personal referrals. That means your voice makes all the difference! So I personally invite every reader of this blog to this gala and also ask that you would invite your friends as well. If you have a sphere of social media influence (blog, twitter, facebook), I ask for your support there as well. To reserve your tickets, please email your name and the quantity requested to email@example.com.
Thank you in advance for your support! Please continue to pray for this most vulnerable population…