The day after the earthquake I received permission to prepare for and head south to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This would prove to be one of the most difficult assignments I have ever had to date on two levels.
The level of the destruction, death, and suffering by Haitians and Internationals living or working there is for me, indescribable. My efforts to tell the stories of these people, and of the cities in southern Haiti seemed to fall short on all of the ten days I spent on the ground there. Images were not hard to come by of pain, suffering, death, destruction, looting, violence - of people trying to survive and people trying to deal with death all around them. Images were everywhere, but the task was, in many ways impossible. Although I tried to touch on many different aspects of this story, I feel that it is incredibly difficult to fully give a reader a sense of the scale of this story. It is impossible to share fully the stench of death and rot on the streets, the palpable fear of men, women and children who are sleeping in the streets and will be for a very long time. Impossible to show the unimaginable amount of destroyed buildings that will have to be razed, and built up again one day.
As a journalist there is little point traveling into a disaster zone and depending on modern convenience to do your job. Nothing was working in Haiti, at least for the first few days, and those journalists who were able to file daily were the ones who went there prepared. I pulled tricks out of my bag this trip that have been sitting their idle through many, many assignments.
It is impossible to go untouched by the multitude of horrors that I and many others have born witness to. How will it affect any of us in the future is unknown. What I do know, is that rarely do I shy away from telling stories of foreign assignments like I have since returning home. These are not things I wish to share with my loved ones. Let them read stories and look at images that, although horrible, do not in any way fully give a sense of the magnitude of this tragedy.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this natural disaster and my thoughts remain with the small few that I have met, touched, and spoken to in my efforts to shed some light on their pain.