Bear Guerra – Before the Quake
Whether it was the day the earthquake hit in Haiti, post aftershock or from six months prior to the natural disaster, when looking at images of the island, the abject poverty, despair, and chaos is apparent and abrasive. In the fall of 2008 photographer/reporter team, Bear Guerra and Ruxandra Guidi traveled to Haiti with a International Reporting Project fellowship from Johns Hopkins University to report on the efficacy of aid. With billions of dollars of aid invested into Haiti, the question on their minds was why no concrete and sustainable improvements had been established for the Haitian people. Together, Ruxandra and Bear created a multimedia piece which contains his black and white photographs and poignant interviews with several officials on Haiti.
What makes Bear and Ruxandra’s work so pertinent post-disaster, is the examination of Haiti’s socio-economic background as the root of the destruction that we see today. In one interview, Anne Hastings, Director Fonkoze, Alternative Bank for the Poor which provides aid to Haiti foreshadows current events when she says, “God forbid the day [a hurricane] hits Port-au-Prince head on because it is going to be really disastrous.” In writing, Bear makes the point that, “Haitians have been left out of the discussions about their own destinies for far too long. If the international community is serious about wanting to help the country rebuild, it must first listen to those who are most affected by their policies.” The multimedia piece concludes with a photographic stare down from the Haitian people, allowing no escape from the penetrating glare of people who need help.