Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When The Wind Howls, I Hear Their Cries

Photo by: Paul Emanuel / City Soleil, Haiti.

Sorry. I've been in hiding lately. Not from anything or anyone, of course, but mainly from myself--my own emotions after returning from a land left raveled by nature, scorched and scathed by a world of uncertainty.

I don't know what happened, really, but upon returning, I felt the need to disconnect--to find myself again and live life upon a world in which I could call my own. Being in Haiti was tough. Mentally and physically, it left me charred to my core, reducing every bit of hope I had had for humanity to nothing more than dust--a mere fragment of a dream. There are moments in life when you find hope, when you see it in your eyes and you savour it for every thing it's worth. Then, sometimes, when the truth is so real--so true and trivial, there's no avoiding what horrible things may come. That's what it was like for me in Haiti. By the time I had left, I had lost hope for the people who continue to suffer. I saw too much to fathom, too little to hope--any longer.

It scared me. I spent nights sitting up in my tent wondering what was wrong with me. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I wanted to scream, but didn't. The feeling of helplessness ripped away at the very fibre that made me whole. I no longer felt good at what I was doing. It got to the point when I couldn't shoot any longer--and for the last few days in Haiti, I kept my camera pointed down. There was nothing more I could shoot.

Returning home, friends would ask me how it went. I'd turn to them--and sometimes, I didn't have to say a word--for they had already known--just from the look in my eyes. Thank you, friends, for understanding.

I've spent days unpacking and re-packing, going over every little piece of equipment I had brought to Haiti and making sure it was still in tact. But in the midst of inspection, I realized that I needed to do the same to not just my equipment, but also to myself--to look deep into my very own soul and see if I am the same as I had left. In retrospect, I am not. I don't think I will ever be the same again.

Lately, I've been lost for words--not really knowing where to begin or even why. Taking deep breaths, I feel my chest convolving in disarray, my heart beating in disbelief that I am here, safe, fed, and sheltered. Sometimes it's guilt. Other times, I'm just truly thankful. There's an imbalance in me that can never be defined--nor can it be felt unless you've been there yourself.

Because every time I see a tent I am reminded of Haiti. When the rain falls, I think of them. When the sun rises, I pray for them. When the wind howls, I hear their cries.

Blogger Note: I am currently on foreign assignment in Kuwait City, Kuwait.


Lorna said...

Powerful post Ron. Maybe that they have touched your soul is your gift to them and they to you. Maybe your not forgetting them may somehow help someone. Maybe keeping your heart open in so much sorrow and suffering, will bring something good as well. Difficult for those of us who have not been there, to truly fathom. But connecting with other humans, we can fathom and share that. Remember too that we humans, even in our suffering, can find ourselves laughing again. Perhaps your Haitian friends will too.

Wander to the Wayside said...

Ron, I think I said something on Facebook about you needing to decompress before another assignment, because you probably have a bit of post traumatic stress. And I think it does apply here, just as it did for the fire fighters in 9/11. You have seen horrors that most of us only see on the news, and even we are stunned and shocked in our comfy living rooms. But for you who have been there, to any scene of catastropic occurances caused by nature or mankind, you have to be affected deep in your soul. And at some point you almost have to shut down to protect yourself. Soldiers returning from war to their families go thru this. Why should you be any different? Take care of yourself...do you journalists and photographers have a support system provided by your employers? Don't ignore these feelings of disconnect.

Katherine said...

Dear Ron,

You have shared with us your innermost thoughts, feelings about your experiences in Haiti & I thank you for this.
It is true that unless you experience first hand the sights, the sounds, the smell, the sadness & the destruction of a disaster such is this...you can never fully understand the magnitude of it!
My heart reaches out to you ... you are indeed a very good person, with a beautiful heart & soul!
The fact that you are experiencing this mix of emotions..tells me that you are a caring, empathetic human being! And this is something that you should never feel guilty about!
I wish the world had more Ron's in it! If only more of us humans could think & feel this way!
I am not doctor but if your were my son... I would be saying to you to go easy.. Go easy on yourself! And if things are getting too dark...please, please, please..seek help!
Thinking of you! Kath

Deboshree said...

Hmmm, what can I say in such a situation?
For all that it's worth, we are here with you Ron. You did all you could in Haiti. You went to the extent of causing yourself irreparable damage for the cause you believed in.
Maybe mine are empty words for I haven't been where you have, I haven't seen what you have. But there MUST be hope Ron. There must be! Remember that picture you clicked of a little girl ready for Sunday morning Mass? I looked at it and thought to myself..people there still believe in God!! They still hope, don't they Ron?
Don't give up hope please.
Close yourself away if you have to. Recuperate but come back after that Ron. And don't feel guilty please. This was NOT your fault. It is NOT your fault that disaster struck there and you still have food and shelter. Most people don't care Ron but you go ahead and risk your life for telling this story. And that's 'coz you care. Just be thankful for what you have. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Be with your friends and don't be alone too much. Dammit, that seems impossible with your work but when you're back, please don't be alone.

Love you sweetheart,

canadasue said...

Gentle prayers for hope and peace... being sent your way. Thank you so much for sharing... keep sharing even this difficult stuff... even when words are so limited... please.

Vera said...

I read your blog when it was posted, but lacked the words to respond, my head being vacant at the time. But your description of your experience drilled into my mind, and over the days I have thought about Haiti, and found myself building a great empathy for the troubles there. Your words gave that empathy to me. Thankyou. Sending you blessings of love and peace my friend.