Haiti Passion Project: The Power of Pictures

Josh Newton and Katie Eckel getting to know Emmanuel at the boys' home.
Josh Newton and Katie Eckel getting to know Emmanuel at the boys’ home.

The last week of February brought a very special team to visit Child Hope in Haiti. The team was led by Josh Newton, a professional photographer and long-time friend of the ministry. God gave Josh a unique vision  to bring a team of photographers to use their gifts to serve the people of Haiti.

A year ago, Josh presented a brief video he had filmed in Uganda to support a clean water project to a gathering of about 200 professional photographers. At that time, he asked if any of those present would like to join him on his next project at Child Hope. Out of the 200 photographers present at this meeting, over 80 e-mailed their interest in coming to Haiti with Josh. This February, a team of 22 made the trip.

All the team members were photographers but many had additional skills, including 4 nurses and a speech pathologist who worked with special needs children.

Josh explained his vision vision for the Haiti Passion Project like this:

I think we are all meant to serve others using our gifts. When we use our gifts to serve ourselves it is not fulfilling; when we serve but don’t use our gifts, it is draining. I realize that media and photography is not a complete answer, but this is what I am passionate about. I believe using photography for a greater purpose can play a significant part it meeting real needs.

The girls working on articulating their motives and passions.
The girls working on articulating their motives and passions.

The team had a very specific focus: to use their skills to help the children at the Lighthouse identify their own passions.

One way they did this was to hold workshops with the  the older teens where they wrote down their “whys.” They also met one-on-one with each of the children to listen and help them clarify their goals.

Carolyn Rausch, one of the team members, explained the process this way: “So many of these teens have passions that merely need the extra push to get started. Our team took time to listen to their passions, coach them, and help them to define their dreams on paper… challenging them to establish a why that pinpoints the core of why they do what they do…something that is much deeper and more meaningful than merely wanting to make money.”

The results were remarkable. Here is how Chedline expressed her “why”:

I am so happy to tell you why I want to have my own business. Is because I don’t want my children to be like me grown-up in an orphanage and to help my mom and sister and other people. So I pray God to help me that I have that business. I know with God everything is possible. Please help me pray.

After the teens wrote down their ideas, Jeremy Kester took the ideas, looked at the roadblocks and the problems facing developing a business in Haiti, and helped create dedicated, specific business plans for each group. The team also set about documenting the activities and products of those currently working on business efforts through photographs and videos, such as the baking program and the silk-screening business.

The photos and videos created by the team will be used to develop a website showcasing the business efforts of the teens at Child Hope and the graduates, with a special emphasis on presenting the heart behind what they do.

This video captures the heart of this team well.

As someone who has led a number of teams to Haiti, Josh Newton had the following observations about being an effective team:

I want teams to realize that just coming to Haiti, staying in the Child Hope guest house where they will be served baked goods made by the kids, and purchasing items such as jewelry and t-shirts made in the transition program is in itself a huge support for the ministry. Beyond that, teams can be most effective when they have specialized skills and targeted goals for the time they are there

Another way Josh’s team used their talents was to take portraits of individuals and families. They  brought with them a collection of picture frames and were able to present beautiful portraits to many of those who serve alongside Child Hope in Haiti. This gallery shows one of the cooks at the feeding program with her portrait.

Jane celebrating a communication breakthrough with Jonathan
Jane celebrating a communication breakthrough with Jonathan

One unplanned area of ministry occurred when Jane Ammon met Jonathan, a new child introduced in this blog post.

Currently Jonathan does not speak at all, but Jane, a speech pathologist, noticed how he was moving his hands. She began moving her hands in imitation of his hand movements and soon a clear bond was established between them as Jonathan felt understood in his own language.

Jane left The Lighthouse staff with a detailed list of ways they can help Jonathan develop communication skills.

Many of the talented photographers on this team  posted pictures and some of their thoughts about their experiences as part of the Haiti Passion Project.

Check out the following blogs for more beautiful pictures.

Chris Tyson Part 1 and Part 2

Tamara Lockwood’s blog

Jessica Drogosz blog

Jane Ammon’s blog