Just before the one-year anniversary of the massive earthquake in Haiti, filmmaker Claude Barnes’ documentary, ‘Aftershock: Surviving Haiti’ takes viewers on a journey back to those first days of rescue and relief efforts.
Barnes recalled his 12-day visit to the Caribbean country at his Keep It In The Family Productions studio on Dupont Street at Symington Avenue.
After the earthquake struck in the late afternoon of Jan. 12, Barnes said he was glued to CNN.
“For some reason, it was calling me. I had to get over there,” Barnes, an Indian Grove resident, said. “There had to be more than what CNN was showing us.”
When Barnes and his film crew arrived, 13 days after the quake, it was “the apocalypse.”
“It was insane. Everywhere you looked buildings were down. There was the smell of death everywhere,” he said.
Having documented such catastrophes as the Bosnian war, Barnes said it took him only a day to acclimatize – not desensitize, he stressed, before he got down to work. On his first day, he and his crew met a woman whose entire house had collapsed with her family inside. They interviewed a man whose boys were in hospital with broken legs; his house had been destroyed.
“I was in the middle of food riots, water riots. We’d walk through tent villages with people sleeping on cardboard,” said Barnes. “I followed a group of GlobalMedics for a day. What this group went through is insane. They do everything from purifying water – Mike Larson, a paramedic here in Toronto, he found himself helping to bury a newborn baby that had died of dehydration in tent village.”
At the morgue with the four-week old baby’s parents, he found himself in a bartering session with the operators of the morgue, said Barnes.
“They wanted $250 U.S. That was a deposit. The reason for this was that when the earthquake had just happened, everyone was just dropping off babies,” he explained.
The incident is part of the hour-long documentary that airs Nov. 28 on EQHD, which happens to be offering a “freeview” that coincides with the timing of ‘Aftershock.’ Airing along with the documentary is an interview with retired NHLer Georges Laraque, who played for the Edmonton Oilers, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and for his hometown, the Montreal Canadiens. Laraque, whose parents are Haitian born, visited his parents’ birthplace in June with World Vision and members of the National Hockey League Players Association. There, they visited the site of the Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Their goal is to raise $4 million to rebuild a much bigger state-of-the-art facility.
Laraque was at the studio Wednesday morning to tape his interview. What struck him the most about his visit to Haiti in the spring was the Haitian’s resilience.
“Just how happy they are. To me, it was just unbelievable,” he said.
A particular experience that touched him was his visit to a hospital to see the children.
“We played hockey with them. I brought sticks and jerseys – most of those kids have AIDS and they were running around playing and so happy. It was so sad to see everyone at the hospital so sick, but they were happy,” said Laraque.