Daniel Tilias and Herode Laurent, founders of the Tap Tap Garden, the largest urban garden in Haiti, in the heart of the notorious Cite Soleil slum. The garden grows saplings to reforest Cite Soleil and serves thousands of kids who come to learn about the environment. (Felipe Jacome)
Today marks the five-year anniversary of the deadly earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing over 300,000 people and nearly leveling an entire country’s infrastructure. The country continues to grapple with rebuilding itself even after over $12 billion in aid was pledged by over 50 countries, 80 percent of which has been distributed, according to the United Nations.
In 2014, photographer Felipe Jacome began taking portraits of Haiti’s change makers, taking a closer look at local leaders and grassroots organizations trying to bring change to their communities, often with very little resources in the face of tremendous hardships.
“Over past the four years working as a documentary photographer in Haiti, I have encountered a remarkable amount of stories of individuals and grassroots organizations creating positive change,” Jacome tells In Sight. “The types of initiatives range widely as they tackle the long list of Haiti’s illnesses. There is the story of KOFAVIV, a support group of rape survivors helping the thousands of women and children raped in the aftermath of the disaster. There is the tireless campaign of Haiti’s amputee soccer players to demand respect for the marginalized handicapped population.”
Jacome’s portrait piece seeks to highlight the stories of Haitians changing Haiti, a story sometimes overlooked by the international aid apparatus and muffled by the country’s political instability.
Leonel Jean Baptiste, a rice farmer who is a member of the Network of Cooperative Associations for the Production and Distribution of Rice of the Lower Artibonite (RACPABA), harvests rice in the plains of the Artibonite Valley. (Felipe Jacome) Rara La Poussiere musicians play their traditional Rara instruments on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The Rara music troupes, distinctive for their drums and bamboo horns, originated at the dawn of the nation from the corps de musique of the Maroon armies in the Haitian Revolution. Raras are one of the most vivid expressions of Haiti’s history as the first free black republic. (Felipe Jacome) Gran Lakou: Dancing to promote LGBT rights. Yonel Charles is a founding member and choreographer of the Gran Lakou folkloric dance troop, the first group to openly welcome LGBT dancers and to advocate for gay rights. Its work has been groundbreaking in a country with widespread discrimination against the LGBT community. (Felipe Jacome) Cyborg Dance: Break-dancing against violence in Port-au-Prince’s slums. In the midst of the political violence and the gang wars that engulfed Haiti in 2004, a group of young men from several slums in Port-au-Prince founded the Cyborg Dance troupe as a way to create an alternative to violence. “Dancing is like a virus,” says Wendy Lazaire, a founding member of Cyborg Dance. (Felipe Jacome) Orimar Luccene, Luckner Andre, and Casimir Sergot are among Haiti’s rising handicap athletes. The 2010 earthquake left scores of amputees. The Haitian National Amputee Soccer came together only four months after the earthquake and reached quarterfinals in the last World Cup held in Mexico in September 2014. (Felipe Jacome) Sandra Edouard is a field agent for KOFAVIV (The Commission of Women Victims for Victims) The organization was founded in 2004 by a group of women who were raped during the 1991-1994 military dictatorship. (Felipe Jacome) Jean Pierre Joseph, member of OSODFO (Organization for the Development of Fort Oge), stands in front of the historical Fort Oge which dates back to the years of the Haitian Revolution in 1804. (Felipe Jacome) For almost 20 years, Eugene Andre and Celeur Jean Herard of the Atis Rezistans (Artists of the Resistance) art collective have been creating art through the recuperation of waste materials. (Felipe Jacome)