Behind the Lens: Stories from the Road from One of Vitamin Angels’ Photographers

By Baker Johnson

Marie Arago began working with Vitamin Angels back in 2016. Since then her photographs have brought our work to life through trips across Central America and beyond. As a part-time resident of Haiti, her understanding of the local language and culture have served as an invaluable opening for storytelling.


In Haiti, there are many proverbs, but one of the most well-known is "Dèyè mòn gen mòn" which means "Beyond mountains there are mountains." Like all proverbs, this one has more than one meaning; Haiti is a country filled with mountains and Haitians are often faced with many obstacles. In my years of experience living and working in this beautiful country, people are constantly trying to climb mountains. This photo was taken during the drive back from the southern town of Jeremie where we had visited Vitamin Angels' field partner organization Haitian Health Foundation. The team spent the day learning more about the benefit of their prenatals, vitamin A and deworming tablets for the moms and children. When I saw this woman at the top of one of Haiti's many mountains, to me, she represented the strength of women and mothers and how they continue to go the distance and climb mountains for their children.


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Evanlunna and Valentina live in a community in the Dominican Republic, called a "batey" that is made up of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Many Haitians leave Haiti for the neighboring Dominican Republic to seek work and opportunity in hopes of creating a better life for their families. When I took this picture, I remember the girls' mother looking on, smiling, and watching them play.


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This photo that was made in Honduras earlier this year is one of my favorite moments that I have photographed on a trip with Vitamin Angels. I love rivers, and I love places where people hang out in rivers. In Honduras, I was really drawn to all the rivers we were seeing as well as the people I saw spending their time in them.

 

Christian, 13, and Amy, 5 are neighbors. Christian was the first person I noticed when we visited a school earlier that day. When I saw him, he was in the cafeteria where children were provided meals on school days by Feed the Children, a partner organization of Vitamin Angels. Christian was feeding his little cousin, who was sitting on his lap. I was moved by both his sweetness and the maturity he showed by taking care of his young cousin.

 

Soon after, I met Amy and noticed her smile. Her mother asked me to photograph her, but during the day when I tried to take pictures of her, she was shy, and maybe tired, and I could not capture her personality in a photo.

 

At the end of the day, we visited a nearby neighborhood where many of the students lived. As we crossed a little bridge over the river that ran through the community, I looked down and saw Christian and Amy were laughing and waving at me from the water. I think this picture captured the personalities I had witnessed from both children earlier in the day and, universally, the joy of childhood. 


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I like this image of Anderson and his daughter Arianni to share as one of my favorite memories because I remember how sweet Anderson was his daughter. I thought it was important to share an image that represented a man and his daughter.


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