I was interviewed by Marco Werman for PRI’s The World today about the comics journalism from Haiti. You can listen here.
When hundreds of thousands of Haitians lost their homes, families and livelihood in the earthquake two years ago, Haiti’s gays and lesbians experienced an outburst of homophobia.
With a majority of its population devoutly Catholic, many LGBT Haitian’s are not open about their sexual orientation for fear of physical and verbal abuse. But in the aftermath of 2010’s natural disaster, some conservative religious leaders in Haiti blamed the earthquake on homosexuality.
Video journalist Caroline Dijckmeester-Bins and I collaborated to create Haiti’s Scapegoats, incorporating animations and illustrations of the people we interviewed this summer. Chevelin Pierre also made contributing illustrations.
Cross-posted at Cartoon Movement
Today, on the second anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, we publish the first chapter in a 75-page comics journalism project focused on life in Haiti two years after the country was devastated by an earthquake that it is still recovering from.
Written by Port-au-Prince reporter Pharés Jerome, and illustrated by Chevelin Pierre, Tents Beyond Tents takes us down to the Champ de Mars in front of the crumbled presidential palace to the squalid conditions in tent camps on the outskirts of town. Jerome tells us of the forced evictions by state authorities and the modest progress that is finally allowing some families to relocate.
500,000 people still live in tent camps as resources and international attention wanes. Amid the daunting relief effort is a reminder from the Haitian proverb, “beyond mountains, there are mountains,” that after each struggle is overcome new ones present themselves, as the seemingly endless struggle to rebuild Haiti continues into its third year.
This Thursday on Cartoon Movement we will publish the first chapter in a 75-page comics journalism project focusing on life in Haiti two years after it was devastated by an earthquake. The first chapter, “Tents Beyond Tents”, focuses on the tent camps that still dominate much of Port-au-Prince and was written by Pharés Jerome, a reporter for Le Nouvelliste. We will be publishing installments throughout 2012 written by various Haitian journalists, focusing on such issues as Haitian politics, the role of NGOs, and what exactly happened with all the relief money that came flooding in after the earthquake.
Leading up to the anniversary, we are publishing editorial cartoons by three Haitian cartoonists we met, including this scathing one from Raphael Paquin.
There’s also this sketchbook diary Sandy Huffaker did on a trip to Haiti in 1986.
I’ve been working with the journalists and the artists, Chevelin Pierre, since I got back from Haiti in August. “This is an opportunity to express my frustrations, and those of my countrymen, with the recovery after January 12 through my drawings,” says Pierre. “And comics journalism lends itself perfectly to the subject.”
Editor and Publisher has a write-up of Cartoon Movement’s trip to Haiti:
Both Bors and Royaards knew from the start that in order to get to the heart of the issues in Haiti, they would need to focus on Haiti’s reconstruction from the point of view of the Haitian people, which led to the decision to hire Haitian journalists to produce the stories.
“The problems here are complex and trace back long before the quake,” Bors said. “We knew that doing anything comprehensive on Haiti would require people who have been here their whole lives and who are trained in journalism.”
Bors’ first step in finding the proper team to pull this off was to contact all the reporters in Haiti that he had been following on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. Haiti’s national media is largely radio based, and the print media is nearly all French, so finding the right team required Bors and Royaards to visit Haiti and pound the pavement, figuring out who was good and getting familiar with them and their work before they worked together. [Keep reading]
The infamous Danish Muhammad cartoons, published in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30th, 2005, led to protests, riots, and over 100 deaths around the world. The discussion that followed about the balance between free speech and incitement in cartoons, between ridicule and bigotry, led to the creation of Cartooning For Peace, an organization of international editorial cartoonists dedicated to promoting free expression and “mutual respect between people of different faiths or cultures.”
Susie is also working on a second piece for Cartoon Movement, running a few weeks from now, that invovled her doing some undercover reporting in the San Francisco area. Stay tuned for more info…
Also over at the Cartoon Movement blog this week, Tjeerd has a write-up of the Haitian graffiti artist Jerry, whose work can be spotted on walls all over Port-au-Prince. We interviewed Jerry during our stay in Haiti and gathered up some of the photos of his work in a slide show.
The final update from our trip:
The first part of the Haiti project (the trip itself) ended last week, and the traveling party has returned safely to San Francisco, Portland and Amsterdam respectively. So what’s next?
Well, we have some cool things lined up, although some patience will be required. The second week of January 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, and we will have an entire week of cartoons, comics and videos related to Haiti at Cartoon Movement to mark the occasion. On January 12, we will publish the first chapter of the 75-page comic about life in Haiti that will be written and drawn in the coming months.
My trip in Haiti comes to an end this week. Things tend to take a while to get done in the developing world so I haven’t had time to squeeze in any editorial cartoons yet. I’ve been running around Port-au-Prince for three weeks meeting journalists and artists, talking to people in the NGO community, and spending time with people living in tent camps. It’s all shaping up to be a great project and I’m trying to focus on gathering enough to do a worthy piece of my own, so you’ll have to do without new comics until next week.
Although the headlines are dominated by the shooting in Norway, the drought in Africa and the debt of the United States (not to mention the death of Amy Winehouse), we still want to give an update from the country ranked number 5 on the 2011 Failed State Index.
We’ve now been here for a little over two weeks, and have one-and-a-half week left before we head back home. The impressions of misery and poverty are vividly present every day, but seeing past the squalor you can sometimes get a glimpse of something else. The lush tropical vegetation, the spirit of the Haitian people and the gaily painted buses and pick-ups that are used for public transport make you think that Haiti could be paradise. It’s not. To quote a resident of one of the larger tent camps we visited, it’s ‘hell on earth’.
A recap of our first week in Haiti, with a cartoon from Tjeerd and some sketches I did. Having found some of the Haitians we will work with, next week we ramp up the activity as Dutch video journalist Caroline Bins joins us to document the trip and do some journalism of her own.
Tjeerd Royaards has posted a short update and slide show of our trip over at the Cartoon Movement blog and I wanted to take a moment
I don’t plan on doing as much real-time cartooning as I did in Afghanistan. The main focus of the trip is to pair a Haitian journalist and cartoonist to do a significant work of comics journalism on reconstruction efforts (and much else) that will run on Cartoon Movement in 2012. We are meeting with artists all this week and have plenty of journalist contacts to go through as well. Dutch video journalist Caroline Bins is joining us in a week to document the trip as well as the cartooning scene in Haiti, a topic Tjeerd and I are focusing on that hasn’t really been covered and lays outside the general misery and negativity usually presented about the place.
I will likely post some sketches before the trip is through, but I’m saving the bulk of my work for when I return and have time to sit down and do something proper.