Since the devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince in 2010 it has become almost impossible for much of the world to visualize Haiti as anything other than a place of disaster. In the days and weeks after the earthquake, technology - through our televisions and computers - brought into our homes image after searing image of devastation, death, and desperation. For many in the industrialized world, this was their introduction to, literally their first sight of, this small country. Though these images did increase awareness of Haiti by making it more visible than it had ever been before, they also made Haiti seem alien and foreign to many. The more recent outbreak of cholera in Haiti only added to this cognitive rift, leaving some in the media openly wondering why "they," the Haitian people, would not "just get out of there" - Haiti.
Technology, in a sense, made Haiti synonymous with disaster. But technology can also enable us to see beyond this one-dimensional view. Through the technology of Gigapan, viewers can visually explore a place on their own terms, in their own time. After all, a Gigapan image is not just any image. Through Gigapan technology, many different images are "stitched" together into a single, broad view, opening the possibility for a myriad of unique perspectives. Through these pictures we invite you to visit "our Haiti" - the Haiti we at the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer have worked in, loved, and served for over half a century.
Founded in 1956 by Dr. Larimer and Mrs. Gwen Grant Mellon, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer has been serving a largely neglected, rural population ever since. "Our Haiti", the Haiti that is home to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, is a 610-square-mile service area just 42 miles outside Port-au-Prince in the central Artibonite Valley.
Artist Joseph Augustin's vibrant depiction of the Artibonite Valley Since the earthquake did not directly hit our valley, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer was the only fully functioning hospital in the region. A fully integrated health system, devoted to prevention as well as cure, HAS was and is one of the few hospitals in the country to offer a full range of care - from surgery, to prosthetics, to rehabilitation therapy - services much needed both before and after the earthquake.
It is because of our many years of commitment to improving the health and quality of life of this very special place that we make this small gesture towards reshaping the outside world's image of Haiti. And while "our Haiti" is not free of much of the sorrow that exists elsewhere in Haiti, our wish is, in brief, to present a more balanced picture of the Haiti that exists beyond the lens of the mainstream media. By sharing these images with you, we hope that we can literally give you another view of this beautiful, resilient island nation. Through Gigapan we invite you now to make "our Haiti" your own.
Dror Yaron and Rob Long setting up a Gigapan shot of the Artibonite Valley from this popular local vantage point. Photo: Clear Story
The Friends of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, expands awareness of the culture and art of the Haitian people and of their need for health services, improved environmental conditions and economic development. The Friends also designs and implements projects in support of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer's mission to improve the health and well-being of the people of Haiti's Artibonite Valley.
For more info visit friendsofhas.org, read the blog, follow @FriendsofHAS on Twitter, or friend the Friends on Facebook.
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