In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Visualize Haiti

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Alecia Settle's new publication, Visualize Haiti, is priceless.

'It takes all 5 senses to visualize Haiti. As you look as these photo's, feel the extreme heat. Hear the roosters and the voodoo drums. Taste the dirt. Smell the fires, sewage and rotting flesh.'

Alecia Settle was changed forever by an encounter with an 18 month old orphan living in a rural orphanage near Haiti's capital city, Port-au- Prince.

'This unbelievably thin little girl with a giant tummy sat motionless on an outdoor concrete slab with a cloth diaper and tiny t-shirt. She was oblivious to the activity around her and maintained a blank stare. Her hands were bony with long, dirt-packed nails. Her hair, like that of many other Haitian children I had already seen was no longer a beautiful jet black. Instead it was the rusty orange color indicative of malnutrition. She lacked the strength to wipe away the gnats and flies that crawled in her hollowed eyes and she had a bad cough that made me wonder if she had been tested for tuberculosis.'

Like many of us, Alecia had seen fundraising adverts that showed African children who loked just like this. But, the author observes, 'as a well, trained scientist, those commercials were no match for my flippant and arrogant "survival of the fittest mentality." In a heartbeat, this up close and personal encounter changed that. My elitist mentality was permanently replaced with a feeling of overpowering compassion for this little girl.'

Little Lousselande responded to Alecia's tender care, and when the American woman returned home to the States, she and her husband immediately began adoption proceedings. Their dreams of providing a permanent, loving home for the baby, though, were crushed one morning, when an e-mail arrived from the orphanage's administrator informing them that that Lousselande had developed a high fever, and died.

'Lousselande was buried near the orphanage in a banana box. There were no flowers, no funeral procession, just a Haitian stranger with a shovel...'

The Settle family went on to adopt a vibrant 3 year old from Louselande's orphanage, but for Alecia, this was not enough. The chemist, turned travel photographer made many tips to Haiti, "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere." She captured landscapes and portraits across the land, in remote villages and urban slums. A vision was born; Ms Settle founded Visualize publications, a company dedicated to publishing books that raise awareness of the plight of people living in third world countries. 100% of the profits are used to fund charitable enterprises around the globe.

Visualize Haiti, Settle's first publication, 'is a full-color, hardcover photographic collection that takes the reader on a unique journey....The text is both informative and personal. Captions reveal moving statistics that raise awareness of the social, economic and political problems in Haiti.....This book is a must-have for anyone with a passion for social justice, humanitarian work, third world travel or adoption.'

Alecia was an ordinary woman. A educated wife and mother, living a comfortable life. The thing that sets her apart is her courage to act on her convictions and her willingness to use her talents to act on her compassion. I want to be just like her!

For more information and to order a copy of Alecia's book, follow this link to Visualize Publications.

No comments: