covering COVID-19 in Haiti

Nadia Todres is a documentary photographer based in Haiti. She has been documenting the coronavirus outbreak and has also been working on a personal project featuring portraits of Haitians amidst COVID-19. Nadia work is usually focused on adolescent girls in Haiti for the most part, but she also covers disasters, events, and everything happening in the country for whichever NGO or organization she is shooting.

In this profile, she shares about her work and how she has been covering the pandemic, which is similar to what Nadia usually covers. “Be it earthquakes or hurricanes but my focus is always on the people here in Haiti, particularly the adolescent girls and their resiliency,” she said.

In a country of 12 million people, which according to Nadia, is unequipped for the pandemic with just 200 beds that can cater to patients.

“There is huge denial in this country and therefore people are not heeding the advice of wearing masks and social distancing. That said, it is a frightening time to be covering COVID-19 in Haiti. As I am working on a personal project of portraits of Haitians in the midst of COVID-19, I am taking the necessary precautions when photographing people; but it is a time filled with a lot of fear and caution,” she said, explaining what it is like to document the pandemic in the Caribbean country.

Nadia informed CFWIJ that Haiti currently has 76 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with seven deaths and approximately 750 suspected cases. The country is not testing, so the numbers are believed to be much higher.

“In spite of a closed border with the Dominican Republic, there are reports of Haitians who have lost their jobs in the DR, crossing back into Haiti. The number of cases is very high in the DR, so the word out is that many Haitians are bringing it back into this country in this way.”

To keep herself safe while reporting on the ground, Nadia makes sure to wear a cotton mask, gloves that she uses at times, as well as hand sanitizer and wipes.

When talking about the situation of logistics, Nadia lets us in on the fact that Haiti has had a rather bad start to the year with a high level of insecurity and kidnappings, which reduced after the arrival of coronavirus. However, being a foreigner in the country leaves her vulnerable to security threats.

“With the onset of coronavirus in a country which is accustomed to locking down, but not accustomed to social distancing, we have a lot to fear in terms of logistics and the crowds of people that remain on the streets. There is also quite a lot of anti-foreigner sentiment in Haiti, as the first reported case was a Belgian. So as a white person, and a foreigner working here in Haiti, there is an added layer of difficulty for myself as a journalist,” she said.

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By Coalition for Women in Journalism

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