How surfers can help Haiti


Haitian traffic jam. &nbsp;<a href="#" onclick="'','slideshow','width=990,height=740,scrollbars=no,resizable=no');"><i>Launch Gallery &#187;</i></a>

The first time I took Gabe Kling, Ben Bourgeois, Zander Morton, and Asher Nolan surfing in Haiti, they nearly crapped themselves. I still have no idea why they let me talk them into leaving their pink drinks in the Dominican Republic for a shady border crossing into a much different country -- I wouldn't have gone if I were them. But we ended up scoring a legit right point that few have ever surfed, and we ate lobster for dinner every night. The trip had a lasting impression on everyone.

I was bitten by the Haiti bug years before, while traveling the country to shoot documentary photos as a 19-year-old college kid. The place sucked me in quick, and I've been back year after year ever since. Usually, I wander the countryside on the roof of the public buses with only a backpack and a small camera loaded with black and white film. I've become enamored with the people, who have faced such incredible adversities and are still so quick to share a laugh or a smile. It feels like whatever you put in their path they are willing to overcome it.

Most of my trips end in Jacmel, a sleepy little city on the south coast. Jacmel has some amazing French colonial-style homes, a huge bay, and a beach within walking distance of the town center. It's where I met Jane MacRae, a virtuous woman who ran Pazapa, a school for handicapped children there. She could read it all over me that I'm a baby when traveling alone, so she took me into her home. I helped out with whatever photography the school needed, since I'm fairly incompetent at anything else. Pazapa does an enormous amount for the people of Haiti, and does it on a tiny budget. If you feel like giving to a smaller charity that stretches every dollar, they could use your help.

This earthquake has been a huge blow to the Haitian people. I would like to think that with all their experience at facing adversity that they will push though and come out on top, but then they could use all the help they can get. Here's a few ideas:

  • Red Cross
  • Pazapa: Center for Handicapped Children
  • World Vision
  • Haiti Aid Network
  • (For those of you in the Mid-Atlantic, Ryan Miller's Haiti prints, other artists' work, and great surf industry donations will be auctioned off at Steve and Cookie's Oyster Bar, Margate, NJ, on Feb. 18th.)

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