Local Photographer Christopher Michael makes a documentary about Haiti’s history while doing humanitarian work
Photographer Christopher Michael recently made a trip to Haiti to donate his time to help school children, learn more history and finish his documentary about the country. It all started with an idea of doing something effective for the community when he visited. He got the idea to bring school supplies children needed for school, but their families couldn’t support it. “I always anticipated seeing the smiling faces of the children when I came, because they knew I was coming with supplies. Over the years, I’ve learned that children all over the world want to learn. All they need is for someone to reach out to travel to them,” Michael said.
For the past two years, Michael has made an effort to collect the needed art and school supplies for these children. “I was pleased that we had enough educational tools to accommodate all the children. We still have tools remaining to be given out at other locations on our trip. It’s really heart warming to know what love and passion can do,” he said.
While doing humanitarian work during his first trip, Michael had a spark in curiosity to learn the history of Haiti. He then decided to make a documentary about the power of leader Henri Christophe and history behind the country. He traveled various parts of the country visiting museums, plantations and other historical sites to gain more knowledge. As he began to dig deep into the history and culture he found out about Haiti’s Citadelle Laferriere monument. The Citadel was built by Henri Christophe a key leader in the Haitian slave rebellion, after Haiti gained independence from France at the beginning of the 19th century.
“Standing atop this fortress overlooking the Caribbean Seas, which also served as a military base, I’m taken back in history. The Citadel was instrumental in achieving victory against many of Haiti’s enemies, even the army of Napoleon. Haiti has a proud history,” Michael said. His sense for their strong history drove Michael to finish his documentary about Christophe on his most recent trip to Haiti.
Christophe was the president and later king of the then young country. He was responsible for building monuments like the Citadel and creating his own government in Plaine-du-Nord.
Michael had the opportunity to visit the monument while in Haiti and explained that it was something everyone should do. “Once I got there, I was truly amazed by what I saw. I learned that Christopher was essentially the King of Haiti at the time the Citadel was built. It was really by his power and leadership that the slaves got the independence they needed.”
Over 20,000 workers between 1805 and 1820 built up Citadel’s massive stone structure as a system to keep Haiti safe from French incursions. It is located several miles inland on top of Bonnet a L’Eveque mountain, which was a great location to deter attacks and provide lookout into nearby valleys.
“I liked for people to learn from this documentary about the things Christophe did to help liberate Haiti. It’s a great way to open up the thought for people to go and visit Haiti. It’s a beautiful place and people should open up their mind to what the country truly is. The media portrays it, as this poverty stricken place that doesn’t have any appeal and that isn’t true. It’s just like anywhere else and has rich history.”