Written by Dilber Shatursun
Edited by Anik Ghose
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and killed 300,000 people. To reflect on the great loss Haiti has endured, and to commemorate the great hope it has gained ten years since, Tzu Chi USA has opened up a one-of-a-kind photo exhibit called “Keeping Hope Alive: 10 Years of Care in Haiti.” And, on January 12, 2020, its grand opening was celebrated at the Tzu Chi Center in New York City.
The program began with opening remarks, including a few words from Tzu Chi USA Executive Vice President Dr. Han Huang and longtime Tzu Chi volunteer James Chen, who have both made many trips to Haiti to oversee relief efforts there. Though it’s been a decade since the disaster, Dr. Huang emphasized the importance of the lessons such tragedies teach.
With many humanitarian organizations departing Haiti after immediate disaster relief was over, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation continued to oversee a multitude of initiatives that met locals’ evolving and ongoing needs. These initiatives included in the areas of medicine, education, poverty and hunger relief, and further disaster relief after floods in Cap-Haitien in 2014.
Of Tzu Chi’s work in Haiti, special guest Patrick Saint-Hilaire, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations, shared that his “hope is that we can improve this relation and that we can show to many countries, to many organizations, what we can do when we do it with compassion.”
Other guests included New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, photographer Keziah Jean, and musician Paul Beaubrun; the latter of which, expressed his feelings about reflecting on historic days like the 10th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
See his touching performance and tribute to Haiti’s resilience in the video below, including our interfaith prayer, and sign language performance from Tzu Chi volunteers.
The crowd was then ushered upstairs to see the finished exhibit. Featuring 100 photos from our ten years of humanitarian work there, sorting through thousands of touching memories was no easy feat; nor was deciding on their layout. But, thanks to the staff of the Tzu Chi USA Media Production Center, all final photos were outlined and clearly displayed in meticulously arranged frames.
Photos by Eric Li
Additionally, volunteers and staff received training on how to give informative tours of the exhibit, where guests are encouraged to observe the photographs as documentary art and are encouraged to interact with them. What came from the guided conversations about the photographs was pure magic.
This afternoon reinforced the value of photography itself, with many guests reflecting on what the art they saw meant to them. Learn more about what the photos meant to them in this video.
Now on display till March 15, free guided tours are available to the general public with the reservation of tickets via Eventbrite. The Tzu Chi Center will be open from 11 AM to 4 PM, Monday to Sunday. Book your tickets now and experience the magic of Haiti’s resilience for yourself.