Two faces of the same drama
A year ago, I was part of the Reuters team that covered Haiti’s massive earthquake, which claimed some 250,000 lives, and left a million people living in makeshift camps. This year, I was part of the team that covered another natural disaster– the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northern coast and brought on a nuclear crisis.
The two events were very different. They occurred on opposite sides of the globe, in completely different countries, in different cultural contexts. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with a turbulent political history. On the other hand, Japan is one of the richest and most modern countries in the world– the third largest economy and, actually, one of the first to send help to Haiti.
But in covering these two catastrophes, I was struck by a few similarities.
Walking through the rubble of Kessenuma, in Japan, looking for a way to convey the scale of the destruction, I found myself almost in a situation like one year ago in Haiti.
There was a woman alone, who paused and stood still, looking at the remains of her house. I had a flash back to a man I had photographed walking alone in the devastated Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
I realized that situation after situation, similar scenes repeated themselves.
No matter what the differences are between countries and cultures, at the end of the day I felt I was watching people suffer in the same way.