My name is Victor Salvo. This is the story of how I became involved with The Macombre Christian Academy in Macombre, Haiti.
It started in the October of 2010. I went to a TEDx event at The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole on Cape Cod. There, amongst all the distinguished speakers, was the scientist William Mebane talking about fish farming in Haiti. In appreciation for his talk I sent Bill a photo I had taken of salmon farming in New Brunswick, Canada.
As things would have it, the day he emailed a thank you to me I was in Florida talking with two strangers that I had met at an outdoor concert (after they had grabbed me to lead their conga line at the Naples Botanical Garden). They had just returned from their home in Haiti where they had hosted the very same Mr. Mebane. And so I met Rick and Kathy Land who own a flat above the administrative building at the Macombre Christian Academy. Or what was the Academy prior to The Earthquake.
The Macombre Christian Academy is situated just outside of Leogane, a poor, rural town twenty miles west of Port-Au-Prince, facing the bay. The Academy is the pride of the community, educating 800 children from preschool through the senior year of high school. Founder and educator Obinson Joseph started the Academy ten years ago after seeing a need for a better school in the largely agricultural area. His school soon became the best known and respected center of education in the Leogane Plain.
When the earthquake hit there were only Mr. Joseph and one employee in the building; thankfully, both survived. Within days the community came with steel bars and hammers (and even rocks) and began breaking down the huge cement walls and ceilings of the former two story building. Eventually, through local and international volunteers the land was cleared and a committment to rebuild was begun.
Using a blueprint provided by the University of Florida's College of Design, Construction and Planning an astonishing amount of reconstruction has since occured. The Evangelical Free Church of America swept in while I was there and built the forms for supporting the large, cracked cistern high up on fractured cement legs. Nonetheless, the kitchen, the cafeteria/meeting hall and the building for the older students, those who will be first to graduate from the Academy, have yet to be built.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. When I went there to work I was told, "Do not get hurt - there is no 911." This country is in dire need of infrastructure, and education of the young is key to achieving that goal. Educating the nation's youth will create future leaders capable of moving their country forward in it's quest to modernize and stabilize. In essence, your contribution will help Haiti help itself.
Your contribution to tOUCH hAITI will enable me to return to Haiti to create a photography book documenting the progress of the effort to rebuild the Macombre Christian Academy. The book will help spread awareness of the plight of the Haitian people as well as the importance of the school to the region. My intent is for the book to generate contributions to the rebuilding effort. By generating interest in the school and its reconstruction, I am looking to have my photographic art pave the way to A STABLE NATION.
Update August 24
The Vermont Center for Photography has linked to this site.
UPDATE August 10th
Correction: I had previously reported that the TEDx event was held at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. It was actually at The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.
Update June 25th, 2011 & What We Need & What You Get
Obinson Joseph writes,
"The roof is not on, the metal is not released yet. We're still working on it. The field is so muddy we had to anticipate the closing for young students yesterday (June 24) while the older ones will continue on until mid July. I had a talk with the head of the public school that hosts the older students about the possibility of using the place again in September, he is very skeptical because the government is planning a permanent building just to meet their need for 6 rooms. I am a bit concerned.
Except for the new 3 rooms tent, there is no future use for the tents. They are completely deteriorated."
The ultimate goal would to be complete the school - $30,000 for the kitchen and cafeteria and $70,000 for the high school. That being said, I have set an initial fundraising goal of $12,000 to create the photographic art book as well as seed money for building supplies. The first quarter will fund my return to Haiti, half will go toward the production of the book, and the rest will purchase building supplies.
There is no limit for you getting your reward. My first trip produced some 3900 images with about 125 or so in the keeper range meaning that you will be compensated with photographs even if the funding falls short of hopes.
As of this posting your rewards will be books I will self publish through Blurb. My prototype came out just fantastic - nice paper, excellent tonal quality, and the ability to adjust the size and page number to suite your budget.
Team on This Campaign:
West Coast Representation/Filmmaking Advisor