For six days last month, 18 Haitian youth came together for a Mercy Corps and National Geographic photo camp in Port-au-Prince. The camp marked the culmination and closing of Mercy Corps’ 18-month Art Therapy and Youth Storytelling project, which has trained over 1,000 youth and 50 Haitian art therapists from earthquake-affected communities.
During the camp, our youth team worked with National Geographic photographers and staff to help the 12-to-20-year-olds sharpen their skills. Together they visited historical sites, ecological farms, community organizations, open-air markets, artist studios and mountain villages in order to capture the rich diversity and complexity of their country.
From more than 19,000 images taken, participants were given the task of selecting two of their photos to feature at a closing exhibit for families, friends, and mentors: one image representing something they want to celebrate in Haiti and one image representing something they want to change in Haiti.
While many of these young people had never held a camera before, most surprised themselves and us with their ability to tell stories and capture the essence of powerful moments.