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Haiti’s people hold on

n melissa lyttle, 2010: Daniel Thelusmar, 31, of Plant City is all smiles holding his 2-month-old niece for the first time. Days after the Jan. 12 earthquake, Thelusmar made his way to Martissant, Haiti, to the house where he grew up. He hadn't heard any news from relatives, and he was afraid his brother's family had all died in the quake. He found them safe and well and got the chance to cradle his niece.

reflection: "With of so much devastation and sadness in Haiti, it was truly incredible to be invited along to witness such a genuinely pleasant moment, and so thankful that it had a happy ending."

For so much death in Haiti, there is so much life. • In the late 1980s, murders initially blocked elections, but the Haitian people would not be denied. A Haitian journalist described the 1990 democratic elections this way: "Millions of people who live in dirt and poverty proved to themselves that they are human. For them, this was the difference between eternal darkness and light." But the cycle of hope and despair spins rapidly in Haiti. • Nine months after the elections, a military coup overthrew the new government. Thousands were killed. Three years later, the elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to power, and people danced in the streets. • But, in no time, brutal conflict erupted, and the whirring gyre of hope and despair continued. Yet Haitians carry on, despite gang violence, coups to end coups and grinding poverty, despite mud slides, floods, hurricanes and this year's devastating earthquake. And Times photographers have documented it. An exhibit — N Ap Kenbe (We Are Holding On) — will run June 10-16 at Studio@620 in downtown St. Petersburg showcasing the work across 24 years of seven Times photojournalists, who time and again have captured the irrepressible life of a nation so filled with death. Here is some of that work, with the photographer and the year preceding each caption, and a reflection from the photographer with each image.

Meg Laughlin, Times Staff Writer

m Maurice rivenbark, 1986: The National Cathedral is a backdrop to a market and shanties near Port-au-Prince's docks. (The cathedral is destroyed now, having collapsed in the 2010 quake.)

reflection: "I remember staring into the fragile daily lives this scene conveys. Today I wonder who and what is left of those lives."

n melissa lyttle, 2010: Daniel Thelusmar, 31, of Plant City is all smiles holding his 2-month-old niece for the first time. Days after the Jan. 12 earthquake, Thelusmar made his way to Martissant, Haiti, to the house where he grew up. He hadn't heard any news from relatives, and he was afraid his brother's family had all died in the quake. He found them safe and well and got the chance to cradle his niece.

reflection: "With of so much devastation and sadness in Haiti, it was truly incredible to be invited along to witness such a genuinely pleasant moment. I was so thankful that it had a happy ending."

kathleen flynn, 2003: Paulette Prinston makes sure first-grader Marie-Olga Kenslie Georges will be okay sitting in front of the crowd at the memorial service for Carol Herget in Gressier, Haiti, on May 2, 2003. Hundreds gathered for the memorial. Her ashes were placed in a pedestal with an inscription of one of Carol's sayings: "Even when my world momentarily collapses, I am rebuilding castles." Backstory: Herget and her husband were invited to Haiti in 1978, and she developed one of the country's largest missions. In 2001, after 50 years of missionary work in the Caribbean, Carol fell ill with lymphoma at the age of 82. She reluctantly left Haiti to live in a single-wide trailer in Brooksville to be near church members who were involved in her mission work. It was her wish to be buried at the first mission she built in Haiti.

reflection: "Even in her last weeks of life, I never heard Carol complain about the pain she was enduring. It was clear her only concern was the welfare of the children in Haiti. Would her work and vision continue once she was gone? When I look at this photo, I see Carol's hand touching the girl's face."

edward linsmier, 2010: Fabienne Geichmar's family carries her body home after she was fatally shot while looting a store in the La Ville section of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 19, 2010. She was 15. Violence and looting were common in the downtown after the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the city.

reflection: "What I remember most about that moment is the overwhelming sense of tragedy and chaos, yet when I see this picture, I see this quiet moment of tenderness displayed by the man towards the body of Fabienne."

, Lara Cerri, 1990: Jean-Bertrand Aristide campaigns in Cité Soleil alleys.

reflection: "When I photographed Aristide making his way through these notorious slums, I remember being helped up onto the delicate roofs of these precarious homes, and hearing the crowd burst into political songs with amazing fervor."

n melissa Lyttle, 2010 Delighting in a live band at a Sunday church service in Fond Parisien on Feb. 14, 2010, Geraldine Gerome, 12, right, sings and dances to the beat in her wheelchair. She is one of more than a hundred amputees being cared for at the Love A Child Disaster Relief Center.

reflection: "The memories that make me smile all involve the kids. The music started and I saw a joy spread across their faces like I hadn't seen before. Clapping and singing and smiling, those kids gave me some hope for Haiti."

Kathleen Flynn, 2003: A man chips at the side of a mountain for gravel along the road from Gonaives to Port-au-Prince on May 4, 2003. Entire mountainsides are laid open from erosion as a result of decades of deforestation. With no vegetation to trap rainwater, topsoil drains into the ocean, where it kills fish. Underground reservoirs aren't replenished, one of the reasons for Haiti's poor water quality.

reflection: "It is easy to distinguish Haiti from the Dominican Republic: From a plane, you will see the lush green fertile land of the DR fall off into the barren decimated expanse that is Haiti, like a giant knife came down and peeled the forest back."

, Lara Cerri, 1990: Jean-Bertrand Aristide campaigns in Cité Soleil alleys.

reflection: "When I photographed Aristide making his way through these notorious slums, I remember being helped up onto the delicate roofs of these precarious homes, and hearing the crowd burst into political songs with amazing fervor."

n melissa Lyttle, 2010 Delighting in a live band at a Sunday church service in Fond Parisien on Feb. 14, 2010, Geraldine Gerome, 12, right, sings and dances to the beat in her wheelchair. She is one of more than a hundred amputees being cared for at the Love A Child Disaster Relief Center..

reflection: "The memories that make me smile all involve the kids. The music started and I saw a joy spread across their faces like I hadn't seen before. Clapping and singing and smiling, those kids gave me some hope for Haiti."

kathleen flynn, 2003: Paulette Prinston makes sure first-grader Marie-Olga Kenslie Georges will be okay sitting in front of the crowd at the memorial service for Carol Herget in Gressier, Haiti, on May 2, 2003. Hundreds gathered for the memorial. Her ashes were placed in a pedestal with an inscription of one of Carol's sayings: "Even when my world momentarily collapses, I am rebuilding castles." Backstory: Herget and her husband were invited to Haiti in 1978, and she developed one of the country's largest missions. In 2001, after 50 years of missionary work in the Caribbean, Carol fell ill with lymphoma at the age of 82. She reluctantly left Haiti to live in a singlewide trailer in Brooksville to be near church members who were involved in her mission work. It was her wish to be buried at the first mission she built in Haiti.

reflection: "Even in her last weeks of life, I never heard Carol complain about the pain she was enduring. It was clear her only concern was the welfare of the children in Haiti. Would her work and vision continue once she was gone? When I look at this photo, I see Carol's hand touching the girl's face."

edward linsmier, 2010: Fabienne Geichmar's family carries her body home after she was fatally shot while looting a store in the La Ville section of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 19, 2010. She was 15. Violence and looting were common in the downtown after the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the city.

reflection: "What I remember most about that moment is the overwhelming sense of tragedy and chaos, yet when I see this picture, I see this quiet moment of tenderness displayed by the man towards the body of Fabienne."

Kathleen Flynn, 2003: A man chips at the side of a mountain for gravel along the road from Gonaives to Port-au-Prince on May 4, 2003. Entire mountainsides are laid open from erosion as a result of decades of deforestation. With no vegetation to trap rainwater, topsoil drains into the ocean, where it kills fish. Underground reservoirs aren't replenished, one of the reasons for Haiti's poor water quality.

reflection: "It is easy to find the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic: From a plane, you will see the lush green fertile land of the DR fall off into the barren decimated expanse that is Haiti, like a giant knife came down and peeled the forest back."

Haiti’s people hold on 06/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 4, 2010 7:52pm]
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