Saturday, May 25, 2013

Voices of Haiti by Lisa Armstrong

book cover
Voices of Haiti
by Lisa Armstrong, Kwame Dawes, Andre Lambertson

ibook: 94 pages
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Released: July 21, 2012

Link to buy the book.
This book can only be viewed on an iPad.

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
An itinerant preacher whose story reads like Job—except for an incandescent smile and a mountain-moving faith. A woman who remains resolutely joyful despite the HIV that has infected half her family, young girls subjected to rape and forced into commercial sex, a couple whose triumph over the disease that challenges them both is a study in grace.

Haiti has always been a place of extremes, especially in the rubble of the earthquake that shattered the country in early 2010 and all the more so among those of its people who are also struggling with HIV/AIDS. The award-winning “Voices of Haiti” tells their stories in a mesmerizing presentation that combines the poetry of Kwame Dawes, the writing of Lisa Armstrong, the photography of Andre Lambertson, and the music of Kevin Simmonds.

My Review:
Voices of Haiti is a multimedia ebook that focuses on the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. To quote the book, "This book explores the critical issues affecting Haiti's future: development, poverty, displacement, HIV/AIDS, and the role of international aid. Each chapter opens with a "visual poem," a melding of Kwame's poetry and Andre's imagery, and includes stories by Kwane and Lisa, Andre's photography and video, and excerpts from the VOICES OF HAITI productions.

"The first two chapters address the aftermath of the earthquake; the third examines the consequences of the earthquake on Haitians living with HIV/AIDS. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 tell the stories of three individuals affected by HIV/AIDS [who are ministering to others with HIV/AIDS]. Chapter 7 profiles a woman who has become a sex worker to support her family. The last chapter captures the despair and resilience of the Haitian people."

The stories told were very moving. The poetry described the scenes and stories later told in narrative. The pictures were beautiful in composition and showed the tragic (scenes of destruction) and the joyful (as life goes on). The narrative was very effective at describing the scenes and circumstances to highlight both the sad and the hopeful. Since I don't have an iPad, I wasn't able to access the video portions. It appeared that the videos complimented the text--video poems with pictures and music, a video of a spontaneous song at a hospital (referred to in the narrative), a fuller interview with a doctor, etc.

This book has only 95 pages (though videos extend the content), yet it conveys a lot with its powerful stories. I'd highly recommend this book to those who are interested in Haiti or in how people cope with such challenges when life was already hard before the earthquake.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.