I grew up splitting vacations between Central America and the Caribbean. We would spend Christmas in El Salvador, learning about my mother’s upbringing, and New Years in Haiti, reconnecting with my father’s origins. As a multicultural child – constantly searching for my place in the world – these annual family trips taught me how to find reason and solace in the stories of others and my interpretations of the world. Time passed, photography found me, and a deep curiosity for my roots was born.
Haiti became my first home after graduation. I spent the first months exploring stories of identity and belonging, inspired by Haitians ability to sustain themselves through community and ground themselves in love. Amid the chaos of daily life in Port-au-Prince and the challenges of attempting to break into the industry, I made a commitment to myself to pursue my desire to become a journalist no matter the hardships – for nothing else fills me with such purpose. Although I am eager to continue deepening my understanding of Haiti’s complex culture and fulfill my responsibilities as a journalist reporting in my own country, the last ten days spent working in Honduras reawakened a dormant desire within: to immerse myself in the stories of my mother’s homeland and connect – on a deeper level – with the harsh and convoluted realities that make up Latin America.
Every minute spent reporting in the streets of San Pedro Sula intensified my insatiable curiosity for understanding the causes and consequences of human resilience. I felt at home, noticing the striking resemblances that exist between El Salvador and Honduras: the common use of the word alero, the complementing of every meal with freshly made tortillas and the occasional aguacate, the heartbreaking stories of death and violence happening every day in neighborhoods not too far from our own, the promising youth walking different paths as they attempt to stir away from the influences of insistent gang members, and the heartwarming welcome gifted by those whose stories we were fortunate enough to tell.
As I write this, on the last day of the reporting trip, inspired by the other fellows’ courage and thoughtful reporting, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming excitement for what lies ahead: growing closer to my Salvadoran roots as I rely on my pen and camera to capture the essence of my mother’s loving home.