My name is Vanessa Rigaud. I am a travel occupational therapist by day, photographer and philanthropist by passion. I am currently living in Woodbridge, VA on a travel assignment for the next 3 months. I also co-own a jewelry business, Bisoux Jewelry, with my sister.
My interest in photography was initially sparked out of a need. My sister and I had just started our jewelry business, in which all our proceeds are currently going towards our Haiti efforts, and we needed to take pictures of our inventory and had aspirations of creating a lookbook. We couldn’t afford a photographer or anything at the time, and I had always been interested in the craft anyways, so I decided to buy a DSLR off of craigslist. It was love at first click =)
How do you define Haitian culture? What do you love most about living in (or being from) Haiti?
I define Haitian culture as strength, beauty and resilience. We are trailblazers, with a rich history that is often overshadowed by our current economic state. We are the first black republic, the first and only successful slave revolt to result in the establishment of an independent country. In regards to world history, that’s a pretty significant event! No matter what the media showcases or what people choose to believe, no one can ever take that away from us. We are overcomers, and we more than make do with our limited resources. What I love most about being Haitian is recognizing that is the blood that is running through my veins and pumping from my heart. Our culture is heterogeneous; a lavish mix of the aboriginal Taino Indian, West African and French influences, which has birthed a culture rich in art, music, literature and cuisine.
Do you believe NGO’s and missionaries that come to Haiti have made a positive impact?
There are a lot of mixed emotions in the Haitian community when it comes to NGOs and missionaries. As individual organizations, missionaries do make some impact, albeit with somewhat temporary outcomes. What Haiti really needs is consistency, relief on a broader scale, and a sense of unity between nonprofit projects. No one seems to be coordinating with each other, resulting in underfunded or duplicated projects that often leave people in a state of confusion or instill a false sense of hope. I’m not saying that these organizations are not helpful; however once established, the resources are often not available to keep sustainable in the long run. Because of this pattern, some Haitians have become a little weary of missionaries.
Read Vanessa Full Interview and see more pictures Here