By Tracy Dingmann
If you’re a longtime reader of the Albuquerque Journal, you probably remember those times when the paper would send a team of reporters and photographers to major catastrophes around the country.
The Journal’s select “F-Jet” team of reporters and photographers would fly on the publisher’s private jet at a moment’s notice to such disasters as the Oklahoma City Bombing, 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina.
The packages that resulted were always excellent. They allowed some of the paper’s best performers to shine, and gave Journal readers the opportunity to see a far-off event through trusted local eyes.
But those big-spending, private jet-flying days are apparently over at the Journal. That’s why it was so wonderful to see Sunday’s package on the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti from veteran Journal photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis, a native of Haiti who has worked at the paper for close to 20 years.
Pierre-Louis and a local friend who had gathered a number of medical and other supplies arranged for their own transportation to the quake-ravaged nation. For Pierre-Louis, who wrote the narrative and took most of the pictures, it was a personal journey. Pierre-Louis’s siblings and mother (unharmed in the earthquake) still live in Haiti – and he was there to evacuate them to the States.
In his narrative, Pierre-Louis described finding his family members in emotional, unexpected ways. As he traveled, he described his beloved home country and firmly put so many of the places that we’ve heard about on the news in the context of his life. We learn that the destroyed National Cathedral – the symbol of faith for this heavily Catholic country – was the church where Pierre-Louis received his first Holy Communion.
The Journal followed up with a story on Monday detailing Pierre-Louis’s efforts to bring his family to the U.S.
I came close to tears several times while reading Pierre-Louis’s opus and I’m so glad that, even though he had to do the whole thing himself – the Journal blew out the Sunday and Monday papers to publish his story.