In this day of debating what constitutes an embedded citizen journalist, the young photographers of Haiti are a perfect example of what the term can mean. Children in the Jouk Li Jou Kan Foto program, named for a Haitian saying meaning "working hard to see a better life and we'll keep fighting to the end," are becoming photo ambassadors for Haiti's recovery.
For the second year since the Haitian earthquake killed more than a quarter million residents, Jouk Li Jou Kan Foto students will learn photojournalism during a 10-day seminar in July. The students not only learn to show their view of Haiti to the world, but also photography as a trade and an art. They come from partner organizations Kolézépol in Cité Soleil, Haiti's largest slum, and ACFFC in Jacmel, a poor but beautiful seaside town known for local arts. Zanmi Lakay, the umbrella organization founded by Jennifer and Guy Pantaléon, has been teaching photography workshops to street children and young adults in Haiti for 15 years. Through its efforts, the children's photos have been featured in the New York Times Lens Blog; Canada's Globe and Mail, which hired eight Haitian students to provide photographs documenting the rebuilding of Jacmel; and now The Huffington Post.
A team of volunteer professional journalists teaches and mentors students in editing news photographs, writing captions, making prints and hanging them in a gallery. Local Director Joel Pétion organizes the proceedings. At last year's Jouk Li Jou Kan Foto Exhibit, 43 student photojournalists generated more than 12,100 images during their assignments. Seventy prints were displayed at the opening exhibit, along with collages and slideshows. This being a celebration, dancers and Kanaval Devils entertained at the exhibit attended by photo subjects and the community.
This year's wish list, which includes digital point and shoot cameras, ink and photographic paper, and notebooks and pens is posted at Jouklijou.org. Funds for student transportation and meals may also be donated through the Indiegogo platform.
As a writer I'm generally partial to words, but the kids' photos below show much more than an article could. These are their images of working hard to see a better life, and fighting to the end.