My First SI Trip

19 Feb 2016, Posted by silentimages in Blog

Last Friday, I was scrambling to tie loose ends before my first international Silent Images project.

I would travel to Haiti with my sister and her church to document their mission trip. I was excited, not exactly for going to Haiti for a third time, but for the opportunity to tell this story and to go with my sister.

With less than 24 hours until my departure, my bags were packed, my clothes were treated with permethrin to kill any mosquitos that might give me Zika, and my pre-departure to-do list finally seemed manageable.

Meanwhile, my inbox filled with security messages from the State Department, warning me of the political unrest in Haiti — not a new concept for me.

After the earthquake in 2010, I lived in Haiti for three months visually documenting the work of a disaster relief organization. At the end of my grueling stay experiencing aftershocks, hurricanes and a cholera epidemic, I was excited to meet my mom and sister for a relaxing vacation in the Dominican Republic.

But, alas, that dream did not come true. On the day I planned to leave Haiti, the results of their fraudulent presidential election came out and the whole country was in mayhem. A full lockdown was enforced. We could hear gunfire and riots beyond our walls. The Port-au-Prince airport closed for a week.

Needless to say, I missed the trip with my family.

All these memories flooded back to me as I read about Haiti’s current situation. The Haitian president stepped down leaving no one in power. I found videos of the violence occurring while army tanks and soldiers with machine guns attempt to keep peace.

I was disappointed at the timing of the news — I’d mentally prepared myself to go and was even looking forward to feeling the hot Haitian sun on my face. But at the same time, I did not want to experience Haiti’s turmoil yet again.

My boss David made a hard call that overwhelmed me with reassurance. He decided to call me off the trip. This blog is coming to you from the safety of our Matthews, NC office.

I now know that he cares more for his team’s safety than he does about a project. That’s the kind of guy I want to work for. (You’re the best, David!)

So Haiti, you may not be my first international Silent Images project, but I look forward to telling your story at a later date, after the dust settles. In the mean time, praying for you.

~ Cassie



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