The Women of Blue Hills

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FANM YO BLUE HILLS

In late August I arrived at a small rural community on the edge of Cap-Haitian in northern Haiti.  Nothing could have prepared me for the reception, we arrived to a room of 90 women, they clapped and sang beautifully to us, bringing tears to our eyes right away.  They had been waiting most of the day in the hot Haitian sun, our plane was delayed and then our drivers got lost on the way to Blue Hills.  But when we arrived it was all worth it, the drama that unfolded matched the moody skies as dark heavy storm clouds, lightening and thunder danced around us.  We were there to talk to them about their lives, their worries and sorrows, and how water played a part in all of that.  I quickly decided to do a mass portrait session with them, and this poster is a tribute to the women of Blue Hills.

A Fine Line

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At one time or another we all walk a fine line between 2 opposing realities.  Working as I do with some of the worlds most challenged people I feel and see it in a big way.  Walking around places like Sellur in India, or Shada in Haiti is a big cultural slap on the side of your head.  There you are, walking through small narrow sidestreets, literally looking into the homes of the "have-nots", there are no Wiis, computers or walk in closets here, they don't even have running water.  Walking around with $10,000 worth of photo-equipment, more money than they may earn in a lifetime, how can you balance that out in your head.  When I return home for a while it is almost like reverse trauma, how did I get so lucky?  Another slap in the face, forget about it, stop wasting your time on feeling sorry for yourself or guilty because you are lucky!  This is where many people might tune out when they hear the stories of the poor, because it is the easy thing, instead I wanted to do something about it instead.

I decided that because I don't have a degree as an engineer, I'm not a trained medical worker, the best thing I could do is do what I do best, that is connect with real people, and tell their stories through imagery.  REAL FACES is born from that, I am always drawn in by a photograph of a person, it grabs me and pulls me in, I want to know more.  I am insatiably curious about how others live thieir lives, I love to hear their stories, like the cab drivers, the water delivery woman, the mother of 10.  These are the people that are living the lives we want to familiarize the rest of the world with.  The one thing I have found with everyone I have met so far, they are just like me, they have joy, happiness, struggle, and they all want to do better.  I don't know what the magic key is to ending the imbalance in the world, I only know I am going to keep on trying to change the perspective of people here, to partner with the people there.  Little by little it is happening.

The image attached is of a girl with 2 water containers, she was going out in the early evening before dark to get some water and stopped by a street exhibition I had organized with a youth group in Haiti, she stayed for quite a while but was very shy.

 

WE DAY + Blog Action Day: WATER

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This Friday October 15 is a big day.  I will be covering the WE DAY events here in Vancouver with humanitarian activists Mark and Craig Kielburger.  I will be behind the scenes photographing all of the days activities and then doing unit coverage on the “shameless idealist” interviews with special guests Al Gore, Martin Sheen and the Reverend Jessie Jackson Sr!  This should be an amazing event bringing highlight to some great causes.  Also happening on the 15th via Change.org is the annual Blog Action Day.  This year they are focusing on the cause nearest and dearest to my heart and my work….WATER.  I have been asked to participate through Changents and so I will be writing about the UN General Assembly’s declaration this past July that access to clean water and sanitation is a human right.  This will be posted on my blog at changents.com/cate-cameron

image: the “beach” in SHADA, an urban community in Cap Haitian, Haiti