Archives: November 2011

Portraits of Haiti – Soccer in Cité Soleil

Cité Soleil is the poorest most dangerous area of Port Au Prince.  Twenty years ago Robert Duval went to Cité Soleil and established the Foundation L’ Athlitique d’ Haiti, teaching sports, and providing meals and schooling for many of the children.  Full story to come.

Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher, All rights reserved. Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.


Portraits of Haiti – Elder Abandonment

Her face pulled attention for a photograph.  Local vendors and their story drew wonderment.  The old woman often accompanied her daughter, a regular seller at the Pont Sondet market, along the Artibonite River in Haiti.  They arrived in mornings from the northern area of Haiti’s central plateau, worked the market all day, and left before dark.  Over time the daughter amassed debt, buying on credit and promising to pay later.  Her husband had financial troubles of his own.

One afternoon the daughter left the market without her mother, never to return.  Now the old woman lives at the market.  Other sellers give her handouts and make sure she’s taken care of, yet resent the burden of another mouth to feed. She’s wasn’t supposed to be their responsibility. The old woman is sick and can hardly stand.  She seemed ashamed of being abandoned and showed anger when speaking about it.

A man in a crowd of 15 vendors who care for the old woman made his own plea for help.  They are all poor and the woman is nearing the end of life. Funerals are expensive and she deserves a Christian burial.  Can we take her or give them money?  His breath smelled of rum.  If we made a contribution would it help the old woman, or buy the man rum?  There’s no way of telling.

The need in Haiti is endless and foreigners are looked to for answers.  We have none.  Elder abandonment is rare. Usually a family member is found to take a relative in need.

The market vignette happened so quickly we never got the old woman’s name.  This was my second experience with elder abandonment. The first happened a few years ago to Shirley, a neighbor across the street in Portland, Oregon.  She lived alone for two years after her husband passed away and needed assistance now and then.  We helped when we could.  Her son and daughter, who I never saw in the five years I knew Shirley, managed to get a power of attorney over their mother.  Before the rest of the neighbors knew what was happening, Shirley was moved against her will to a retirement home far from the familiar neighborhood she lived in for most of her life.  We could have helped but were never given the opportunity.  Jonah the cat, who followed Shirley everywhere, was left alone in the house.  He came and lived with us.  Soon after the house was emptied into a garbage bin, remodeled and sold for profit.  We visited Shirley when we could.  Her children were rarely heard from.  Last month Shirley passed away, five years after being abandoned to by two children interested in their mother’s money, but not their mother.

Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher.  All rights reserved.  Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.


Portraits of Haiti – Battle of Vertières Day

Haiti’s ultimate independence from France was won in The Battle of Vertieres, a site now part of the city of Cap Haitian.  Historians tell that on November 18th, 1803, the leader of the Haitian rebels, General François Capois, mounted a great horse and led the charge against the French army.  In a hail of bullets Capois went down – his horse killed in the barrage.  Undeterred, he rose from the ground, drew his sword, and advanced shouting “Forward! Forward!”  Watching from the field, French commander, General Rochambeau, ordered his drummers to sound a temporary cease fire.  The fighting halted and a French soldier rode across the battle field to deliver a message to Capois:  “General Rochambeau sends compliments to the general who has just covered himself with such glory!”  The soldier then saluted the Haitians, returned to his position, and the fighting resumed.

A monument now marks the historic site of Haiti’s final battle of independence.  Now a national holiday, The Battle of Vertieres Day is celebrated each year on November 18th.

This year a crowd of over 200,000 Haitians gathered to celebrated The Battle of Vertieres, and to hear Haitian President Michel Martelly deliver a speech at the monument site.

The Battle of Vertières marked the first time in recorded history that slaves successfully led a revolution for their freedom.  Less than two months after the battle, Haiti became the first black independent republic.

The following photographs are from the holiday celebration last week.  President Martelly was a no show.


All writing and photographs copyright 2011 Adam Bacher.  All rights reserved.  Absolutely no usage without prior authorization.


Portraits of Haiti – Citadel Cistern from Bottom

The Citadel is a fortress built on a mountain top in northern Haiti after the revolution in 1804 to defend against any French attempt to retake the former colony.  Inside are cisterns built to retain enough drinking water to sustain Haitian troops for up to a year.  This photo was taken at the bottom of the main cistern.  Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher, All rights reserved. Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.


Portraits of Haiti – Midwife of Lorie Village

Bernadette Joseph is a  traditional Haitian midwife working in the Lorie Village area of northern Haiti.  The following is from an interview I did with her last week.


Q: What’s your name and what do you do?

A:  They call me Bernadette Joseph.  When the women are pregnant I deliver the babies.

Q: How long have you been a midwife?

A: For a very long time.  More than 10 years.

Q: Why did you become a midwife?

A: When I was a young girl there was an old lady who used to do this, and I used to watch her.  That’s how I learned how to deliver babies.

Q: How many babies have you delivered?

A: All those babies over there (pointing to the closest row of people in the clinic – photo above), I delivered all of them.  In a month, on average, I have about 4 or 5 babies that I deliver.  I have babies that I have delivered that now are pregnant.  Everybody calls me because they know how well experienced I am.

Q: What kind of training did you do to become a midwife?

A: I learned from the old woman in the village when I was young, and by myself, and with the help of god.  Nobody (formally) taught me anything.  There are others who are beginners, but I am the most qualified in this area.

Q: Where are the babies delivered?

A: I deliver the babies at the patient’s house.  Then I have to give them a bath; the baby and the patient.

Q: What do you like most about being a midwife?

A: I’m the type of person who likes to do good for everybody and that satisfies me.  They don’t pay me to do this.  I like to do this so much that the whole community calls me Grandmother.

Later in the day after speaking with Bernadette, I past by her house and took this photo with her husband and three of their five children.

Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher, All rights reserved. Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.


Portraitsof Haiti – What’s Coming Up

The mobile medical clinic members (less six interrupters and a Haitian doctor), pose for a photo after 5 days of clinics which treated 1,480 people.  I’m on the far left.

The team is now back in the United States.

Tomorrow is a national holiday. Haitian President, Michel Martelly, will be in Cap Haitian in honor of the last major battle of Haitian independence.

“The Battle of Vertières marked the first time in the history of mankind that a slave army led a successful revolution for their freedom. November 18 has been widely celebrated since then as a Day of Army and Victory in Haiti.” - wikepedia


After that I travel south to St Marc, then to Meribalais in Haiti’s central plateau.  For any readers who are new to this blog, the Portraits of Haiti Project is entirely self funded.  I’m donation a month of time photographing and another month editing and producing media materials for three non-profits working tirelessly in Haiti.  To pay for basic travel expenses I’ve been running an internet fundraising campaign.  To date 57 people have given money to support the Portraits of Haiti project.

CAN YOU HELP with a small DONATION to cover the basic travel expenses of this trip? There are ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT before this campaign ends.  Any amount donated goes a tremendous way to making this work happen, and helping the organizations who are doing the hard work on the ground in Haiti.


Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher, All rights reserved. Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.


Portraits of Haiti – HACAOT Saves Boy’s Life

This boy arrived to the HACAOT mobile medical clinic in severe respiratory distress.  He was immediately taken from the waiting crowd, and given a nebulizer to open the airways in his lungs (photo below).  A doctor worked with him for two and half hours.  Each time the nebulizer was removed he went into respiratory failure.

To give him a chance after the clinic closed, a medical technician fashioned a take home treatment device from an inhaler and an empty water bottle (seen below).

The device was never used as the boy began to crash (an abrupt decompensation of a patient’s clinical status).  Arrangements were made and he was rushed to a hospital.  “If the doctors from HACAOT hadn’t been in Cap Haitain, there is no doubt in my mind this boy would have died,” said a staff member.   There are too few hospitals in Haiti, and all are severely overcrowded and under staffed.  Without HACAOT’s presence, this boy wouldn’t have been able to go to the hospital.

Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher, All rights reserved. Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.









Portraits of Haiti: Lorie Soccer Team

In the red shirt holding the ball is the captain of the soccer team for the village of Lorie, 30 minutes from Cap Haitian, and the north coast of Haiti.  He’s one of the 515 people treated in two days in the village of Lorieby a mobile health care clinic, run by the Haitian Caribbean American Organization of Texas: HACAOT.  Lead by a seasoned group of military veterans from Texas, and a dedicated crew of doctors, nurses, and clinicians from the upper mid west, 19 Americans came to Haiti for one of the busiest work weeks of their lives.

6 soccer balls were hand delivered this week thanks to the HACAOT mission, and a collaboration between Adam Bacher Photography and the Timbers Army, a fan based charity group for Portland Oregon’s professional soccer team, the Portland Timbers.  The Timbers Army donated 24 brand new professional grade soccer balls, and Adam Bacher Photography brought them to Haiti for distribution.  Game season for the Lorie team starts in two months, allowing time for the field to dry out (background of  group photo below).

When given the balls, team captain, Gary Louis, said:

“We are extremely happy.  We were not expecting such a wonderful gesture from the Portland team or from anybody else.  We thought that one day this day might come. This day was a like dream come true.  Before this day we had only one ball to take us to the championship.  Now we have six balls on top of that one ball we had.  We are extremely happy and say thank you to them. . . . .  we will pray for the team (Timbers) so they can become  more successful and be able to help others as well.”

If the Lorie team makes it to the championship they’ll play a 30 game season.  One member said, “We are starting to have support.  With these balls we have a future.”

Yesterday and today a bright spot shone on a group that couldn’t need it more, with the biggest gift being the healthcare they received the day before.  In their best clothes today,  many of them were hard to recognize.  The need in Haiti is tremendous. I’m quite sure if they had shoes they’d have been wearing them.

Together with local interrupters and a Haitian doctor, the HACAOT mission was to treat as many people as possibly was a tremendous success.  For five days the HACAOT team set up and broke down a mobile health care clinic, at sites between a half hour and two hours away.  Add two full days of travel on each end, and you get a week which thousands of Haitians and a few Americans will never forget.

Copyright 2011 Adam Bacher, All rights reserved. Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.


Portraits of Haiti: Mobile Medical Clinic in Dondon, Haiti

3 of 500 people in Dondon, Haiti, waiting for HACAOT mobile healthcare clinic.


The city of Dondon, with a population of roughly 50,000, is a one and a half hour drive from Cap Haitain, Haiti.  On Wednesday morning, at 5:30 am, the HATCAOT medical team traveled to Dondon to set up a one day mobile health clinic.  Their goal: Treat as many people in need as possible.

More than a third of the medical team rides in a truck bed with the supplies.

A convoy of 4 vehicles transported 25 HACAOT members, medical supplies, basic diagnostic equipment, water, and clothing donations.  Not everyone rides inside.  In the back of the truck is a Physician’s Assistant, 3 Nurses, a Clinical Lab Scientist, 2 Triage Evaluators and 2 Translators.  When the group arrived there were over 500 people waiting for a chance to be treated.  By late morning the crowd swelled to nearly 1000.


Woman in crowd waiting for treatment at Dondon clinic, Haiti.

One of 410 people treated by the HACAOT team on November 9th, 2011.


Over 500 people were waiting when the team arrived.

View of clinic from above. The HACAOT team was treating people within 15 minutes of arriving in Dondon.

A baby girl comes in with an abscessed wrist that needs to be cleaned and bandaged.

Bandaging the little girl’s wrist.

In the comfort of a mother’s loving arms.

Dr. Fred with children from Dondon.Chronic dehydration is an underlying condition for most of the people in Dondon, and exacerbates all other illness.  Some residents are less dehydrated like the children pictured above.   And some are severely dehydrated like the woman seen in the next two images.


This woman was brought through the crowd on a stretcher.  Dr. Frank, (on the right), and his daughter (on the left), examine her to determine a diagnosis.  Ashley graduated from Nursing School this August, 2011.  When she returns home she’ll start her first full time job as an orthopedic and neuro nurse.


Once they determined it was a case of severe dehydration, she was lifted off the stretcher (partly to free it up), and sat down with a bag of intravenous fluids to rehydrate her. She stayed in the chair most of the day, then walked out without any help.


The woman above was having her eyes examined for cataracts.  The photographs that follow were portraits taken at the end of the day.  Five of the people made it in, four did not.  There was no more time.


The clinic has to shut down before dark.  There is no electricity.  Only the front 10 people on the landing at the top of the stairs were able to get in – no one else.  The man sitting on the concrete railing and staring at camera was one of the very last.  It’s the hardest part of the day for everyone on the team.

By the time the clinic was packed up it was dark.  410 people had been treated, given liquids to drink, vitamins,  all necessary medication except for the most serious cases,   a worm pill for almost everyone, and some clothes.   302 adults and 108 children were given a great gift by a team of 18 volunteers from the United States and 8 form Haiti, working for the HAitian Caribbean American Organization of Texas – HACAOT

ALL photography and writing copyright 2011 Adam Bacher.  Absolutely NO USAGE without prior authorization.  All rights reserved.





Portraits of Haiti: HACAOT Mobile Medical Clinic in Village of Lorie

 By the numbers:    HACAOT Mobile Medical Clinic to Village of Lori

25 Team members including doctors, nurses, clinicians, interrupters, logistics and support staff, are based in a house in Cap Haitian. There are 3 bathrooms and 3 bedrooms: 7 men in one room, 6 women in a second room, 4 men in a third room.  Others sleep on air mattresses downstairs and on two large porches off the front and back of the second level.

At 6:00 am breakfast is served and at 6:30 am the team departs for Lorie, a half hour away.

People waiting when we arrived at 7 am


Empty church before set up

Pharmacy dispensing station at back of church. Medical stations on right and left going toward front.

At 7:00 am the team arrives at an open church and by 7:15 the first patients are in triage.  Inside, the following specialized stations are set up:

- 3 Intake and triage stations

- 3 Physician stations

- 1 Lab Station

- 1 Dental Fluoride Station

- 4 People running the pharmacy station (foreground above – center to right)


Waiting outside to be seen in the clinic


Elderly woman being escorted to Mary Fargen’s station

Floride and dental sealant being applied to a child’s teeth.  Out of 129 kids, Carolyn was only bit twice by scared toddlers

Triaged to the front for breathing problems, a nebulizer with a bronchodilator will clear her lungs.


Cell phones are a way of life no matter your economic status

By the end of the day 11 hours were spent treating patients.  271 were seen in total. 129 were under 16.


All photography and writing COPYRIGHT 2011 Adam Bacher.  Absolutely no usage with prior authorization.  All rights reserved.



Portraits of Haiti: Mary Fargen – HACAOT Team Member and 2011 Physician Assistant of the Year Award Winner

At 6:00 am Monday morning a team of 18 doctors, nurses, clinicians, and founding members of the Haitian Caribbean American Organization of Texas  (HACAOT), will  leave for the first of five days to different regions of  Cap Haitian, the second largest city in Haiti.  Each day the group will set up and break down a health care clinic capable of treating hundreds of severely under served people a day.

Mary Fargen, the Medical Director for the non-profit  HACAOT, is here on her 14th trip to Haiti.  This year Mary received the 2011 Humanitarian Physician Assistant of the Year Award, presented by the American Academy of Physician Assistants.  The video linked to this post tells her story much better than I could. Tomorrow I’ll photograph her in action.  The time you take today to watch this video will be enriching.

Click here to WATCH a video about MARYS WORK




Portraits of Haiti: Baker Prairie Middle School Students Help Hiati Relief Effort

Students at Baker Prairie Middle School participating in Haiti trip.

This Monday I met with many of the students of Baker Prairie Middle School, in Canby, Oregon, to invite them to join me in Haiti for the month of November.  Over the internet we’ll video conference live for questions and answers, observations, feedback and student involvement in the trip.  Their ideas and insights will help guide aspects this Haitian journey, and generate a mutual learning experience for all of us.  When I return I’ll be working in the school throughout the academic year to help these young adults use their new knowledge to set up a Student Peace Center at the school.  Stay tuned for reports on our progress.

Baker Prairie Middle School, Canby, Oregon