The press is telling us that the Haitians are primitives to be feared, hence the slowness in distributing food. But I was looking at this picture when it dawned on me what I was seeing.
I'm looking at the photograph of 15 year-old Fabienne Geismar shot dead by police for stealing three pictures. See the flowers in the framed picture. Note the colour of her clothes. Was this her favourite colour? Was she attracted by the pretty flowers?
Is this the picture of an anonymous stranger halfway across the world shot down like a dog by the police? An image we can gawp at and forget almost immediately? Some might dismiss her as a looter who got what she deserved, but who among us wouldn't steal to survive if we were in her position? How can you value property above human life and still lay claim to being civilised?
Perhaps there is more: a young girl simply seeking a glimpse of something beautiful in her shattered life when the world fell apart. She may not have a wall to hang them on but they are something cheering to look at nevertheless. We see her taste right there — such a big human quality in the detail. There's a world of connection between us and Fabienne, reminding us that these are our brothers and sisters, and not the monsters painted by the media.
Humanitarian aid fiasco in Haiti.
The Looting Lie
UPDATE: 26th January 2010 More now known about Fabienne Cherisma
Vibrant Haiti art scene — thousands of paintings destroyed