By Kristen Miller
LEOGANE, HAITI If a picture tells a thousand words, imagine how much can be said when a professional photographer spends a week in the most devastated parts of Haiti.
During a recent trip, Lisa Crayford, owner of Country Gallery Studio, north of Kingston, captured 2,385 images (not including video) depicting life after the Haiti earthquake.
Though a portion of the pictures show destruction from the Jan. 12 earthquake, Crayford also captures the lives and faces that are moving on with resilience, hope, and joy.
The children called her “Photo Lisa” because she would walk around with her camera everywhere she went. She would take pictures of kids and use her small Epson printer to print the photos to give to the children.
“I was like a celebrity,” she said, explaining how all the kids wanted her to take their pictures.
Even before the earthquake, Crayford was planning to go to Haiti with a team of medical doctors through World Wide Village, a non-profit with a goal to help children and families in poverty-stricken nations.
While there, she would capture images of their work to be used by the organization for promotional materials and fundraising.
Because a medical team only went down to Haiti two times a year, Crayford wasn’t scheduled to go until January 2011.
But since the earthquake, medical teams have been going there every 10 days, giving Crayford the opportunity to go much sooner.
From March 27 through April 5, Crayford accompanied a medical team of 20 doctors and nurses to Léogane, a coastal city only five miles from the epicenter.
“Everything was just crumbled,” Crayford said, explaining that 85 percent of the city was destroyed by the earthquake.
Crayford captured this devastation in a photo she took of a boy surrounded by rubble. She titled the photo, “A Broken Home.”
The makeshift hospital was staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There was also a clinic, where people began waiting in line at six in the morning, Crayford said.
The medical team consisted of medical doctors, registered nurses, plastic surgeons, a urologist, an OB/GYN, an anesthesiologist, pharmacists, and a physical therapist.
Physical therapists were critical to the team because many of the patients were healing from broken bones sustained in the earthquake.
There were also many babies delivered while she was there. “Thank goodness we had a baby doctor,” she said, noting one Haitian mother with HIV who needed an emergency Cesarean.
During her 10-day stay, Crayford experienced three tremors aftershocks from the earthquake that occurred three months prior.
For this reason, even Haitian residents, who still have homes, choose to sleep outside in tents for fear of their home collapsing.
Since this was Crayford’s third trip to Haiti, she knew what to expect as far as the poverty and unrest. She was there two years ago to photograph new parents who adopted two Haitian orphans.
As far as the devastation from the earthquake, “It looked way worse than on TV,” Crayford said, describing how three-story buildings were “pancaked” to the ground.
What also surprised her was the resilience of the Haitian people and how strong and happy they could be, despite what they have been through.
“They are strong people,” she said.
Though she was happy to come home, where she would have hot water once again and ice cubes (two amenities she missed the most), Crayford would go back in a heartbeat, she said.
“It’s really cool to see they are moving along,” she said.
Open house for Haiti
With the pictures she took during her trip, Crayford’s goal is to raise money for the hospital and raise awareness for the people of Haiti.
As part of this, Crayford will be hosting an open house event Tuesday, May 25 where people can come and view her photos from Haiti. Slideshows will begin at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase prints and Haitian souvenirs.
Crayford will also have four coffee table books to purchase with photos of the faces of Haiti, hospital work, doorways of Haiti, and shots from the earthquake devastation.
She will even serve traditional beans and rice as part of the event.
A free-will offering will be accepted to help raise money for supplies used by the medical teams.
Crayford is the wife of Chris Crayford, a 1988 Dassel-Cokato graduate and son of Mark and Mary Crayford of Dassel.
If anyone is interested in volunteering their medical expertise to the efforts in Haiti, contact Crayford at (866)275-1940.