Michael Keister: Sharing Haitian Grief and Triumph in Pictures

When needing to tell the story of an event to people around the world, it's the photos that make a difference; and it's people like Michael Keister who help bring those pictures to life.
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Jan. 28, 2013 - PRLog -- Miami, FL – It was almost 4:00 in the afternoon on January 12, 2010, and the people of Port-Au-Prince were struggling through another day in the Haitian capital. Then, tragedy struck. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake nearly leveled the already destitute city. The haunting photographic images of the days after the quake would not have been possible without the help of a pilot, Michael Keister, who flew a group of photojournalists into Haiti just four days after the quake. Their mission was to bear witness to its people's great loss, and it was an experience he revisits each time he views the photographs he helped make possible.

“The devastation was complete,” Keister recalled. “Port-Au-Prince needed shelter for its people, law and order, supplies, and help from anyone who was able. The people of Port-Au-Prince need us to remember their tragedy, and to continue to help them rebuild.”

Keister's role in helping Haitian earthquake victims didn't stop when he flew his passengers in to record the tragedy for posterity. Flying a small Cessna, he shuttled aid workers and journalists into and out of Port-Au-Prince via the Dominican Republic. He bought and delivered precious water, medical supplies, dried food and toiletries to the people of Haiti.

Through it all, the magnitude of the disaster was not lost on Keister.

“Everyone who was able to help at the time did what we could,” he said. “Every contribution helped get the people of Port-Au-Prince just a little step closer to safety, that much closer to normalcy. Those days were about survival.”

The Haitian government estimated that 316,000 people died in the initial earthquake. Another 300,000 were injured, and more than 1 million people lost their homes. The tent cities that emerged to house the displaced still provide shelter for many of those people today, but the people of Haiti are finally seeing signs of rebuilding. Amid the ruins that remain on the streets of Port-Au-Prince, several new hotels are under construction. Haitians hope they will bring visitors and businesses, then jobs and homes for those who lost everything and are still struggling to survive.

About Michael Keister

With more than 7,000 chartered flights to over 150 countries on six continents, Michael Keister is not only an aviation expert, but also a true professional when it comes to organ procurement and air ambulance services.
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