When photographer Michael Laughlin was shot and wounded 10 years ago today while on assignment for the Sun Sentinel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he could not have imagined the impact those gunshots would have.
Hit three times – in the shoulder, the neck and the ear – Laughlin survived the election season violence only because Haitian bystanders dragged him into a nearby house and hid him while gunmen continued to fire. Several people were killed that day, March 7, 2004, including a Spanish journalist who was covering the shooting of Laughlin.
For many, an experience such as Laughlin's had would signal a farewell to a fascinating but volatile and troubled land. Yet three months after he was shot, Laughlin returned to Port-au-Prince to thank the people who saved his life.
In 2005 Laughlin was in Haiti again, this time to help a teenager he met while photographing victims of violence. Blinded by a shotgun blast, Nathalie Jean needed medical treatment that Laughlin arranged for her to get in the U.S. She is now his 25-year-old adopted daughter.
That same year Laughlin brought to the U.S. a second person who needed specialized medical care. Francois Joseph was shot and wounded while helping rescue Laughlin. Joseph and his son, Marc, 18, now live with Laughlin and his wife Kathy.
Over the last decade Laughlin has been back to Haiti many times. He has covered hurricanes and the 2010 earthquake, and taken thousands of photos. It is not just business now; it’s personal. Not only do Laughlin and Nathalie visit her relatives in Gonaives, but he started an orphanage there that is home to 12 boys and girls from 3 to 8 years old.
Folllowing are examples of Laughlin’s work in Haiti over the past 10 years.Copyright © 2015, South Florida