Identidad. Idantite. Identity.

A collaborative photography project created to dignify and raise awareness of the identities of stateless people through visual art.

Help fund a documentary and portrait project in the Haitian Bateyes. 4872677707_35a2d56901_o

Identidad. Idantite. Identity. is a project created with the intention of using photography and art to raise awareness of the identities of stateless people, specifically of those of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. I have lived and worked on and off in the Dominican Republic since 2008, and began planning this project last year, in 2013, when the Dominican government passed legislation that revoked and prevented the citizenship of those who had been born in Dominican Republic, but by illegal immigrant parents. This legislation had been applied retroactively from 1929 to the present, and without citizenship these people became or remained stateless, many lacking eligibility for the Haitian citizenship of their parents or grandparents and the ability to speak the Haitian Creole language– thus leaving them with few options. Additionally, without citizenship papers, these people could not access public education, healthcare, or have the ability to find legal work.

IMG_0168 (1)
In May of this year, internal and international pressure on the Dominican Government reinstated 24,000 citizenship papers to people who had previously had them, but a 2013 UN survey found there were 244,000 people in the DR whose parents were undocumented foreigners.

Communities that have been specifically affected by this are known as bateyes— sugarcane worker “towns” that were filled with Haitian immigrants brought over by the Dominican government to work in the harsh conditions of the fields, but considered “illegal”.

A description of the bateys from Raul Zecca Castel paints a picture of these communities with the following—

“The most powerful symbols of this harsh reality are the bateyes, agglomerations of dormitories scattered within the immense sugar cane plantations. These are created to accommodate workers during the cane harvest, the zafra, but with time they have become truly invisible communities, emblems of poverty and marginalisation. An inheritance of the original places that were similar to concentration camps not so long ago, the bateyes are still social and economic ghettos reserved for the Haitian population. Here is where the human tragedy is perpetrated against the workers forced to survive day by day in conditions on the brink of endurance and human dignity.”

4869991865_454e7614a4_o

Outside of Batey 9, Dominican Republic. Amy S. Martin
Through the project Identidad. Idantite. Identity., I will be working in the southern part of Dominican Republic in the region of Barahona with the communities of Batey Bombita, Batey Robles and Pueblo Milton to create a physical and tangible piece of identity through visual art for those denied citizenship papers and cedulas. The project will be two-fold. As a documentary photographer I will create portraits of individuals wishing to be photographed to serve as a visual identity which can be used to share their story as an individual and as a community. The images that I collect and capture will form an exhibition shared and shown within the Dominican Republic and in the United States to raise awareness of this issue and support dignity and identity of these stateless people.

In the second component I will be working in partnership with the Batey Rehab Project presenting workshops that teach illustration and photography for children of the bateyes to use as tools to explore and share their identities. We will encourage them to use the definition of identity “the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which someone is definitively recognizable or known” to explore their lives through creative art. We will supply cameras and the ability to print images for the students to keep and create pendants and other jewelry with their images as reminder and keepsake of their identity.

The outcome of both will be a collection of portraits of batey community members declared stateless— those who want their face and voice to represent a future that is currently denied.

Helping fund this project will help create art to spread knowledge and compassion which, when shared widely, can lead to understanding and change.

4869977603_1077a21a07_o

Batey 9, Dominican Republic. Amy S. Martin

“I am a citizen of the world”–Sylvia Beach

About me:

Amy S. Martin

Before becoming a documentary photographer, Amy was a Peace Corps volunteer in Dominican Republic from 2008-2010 working in Environmental and Community health as well as with with migrant Haitian coffee workers. She spent time in the southern bateyes learning Haitian Creole language, and worked on the border of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Through her photography she has documented the work of development and conservation non-profits in Dominican Republic, Kenya, Uganda, and her home of the southwest United States. Growing up in close to the US/Mexico border in Tucson, Arizona has contributed to Amy’s interest and attention to migrant and border issues.

4870583474_21deed5a97_o

Link to Kickstarter site:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amysmartin/identidadidantiteidentity-portraits-of-the-haitian

River Life– Criollo Exhibition

Honored to have been invited to be a featured photographer for Flagstaff’s Colorado River Days!

river life

“As an Arizona native, I have lived with the juxtaposition of water and desert for as long as she can remember– and it has formed the course of my life. I have worked seasonally for the past ten years in different capacities on and along the Colorado River.

My images in this gallery celebrate the lives and landscapes formed by the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. I am honored to be a part of Flagstaff’s Colorado River Days 2014 and am grateful to the Criollo Gallery for celebrating this place and its people with me— and enabling me to share my love for both.”

Connecting Potential

Wamunyu, Kenya

Wamunyu, Kenya

Connecting Potential documents the duality of the current situation of primary and secondary students in rural Kenya. Spirit and enthusiasm to learn contrast sharply with the adversity and lack of resources available. This essay was created for the non-profit Kenya Connect who works in connecting rural educators and students with resources in this region.

The vision and goals for initiating this project were a collaboration between me, the photographer, and the organization Kenya Connect. We envisioned the documentation of the realities of education for primary and secondary schools in the rural highland of Kenya with the goals in mind to raise awareness and generate interest in donating funds, recruiting volunteers, as well as relating stories to pen-pals of these students overseas.

The mission of Kenya Connect is twofold. It centers around connecting youth throughout the world through correspondence and service for the purpose of promoting deep cultural exchange and understanding. It has evolved, through the interest sparked by these connections, to provide students and educators in areas of rural Kenya with resources desperately needed to increase learning, in hopes to increase these students’ potential in life.  

The specific aspect that Connecting Potential portrays is the duality of the current circumstances of primary and secondary education in rural Kenya. The spirit and enthusiasm of students to learn and educators to teach contrasts sharply with the lack of resources available. Through this essay I hope to portray the potential of both students and educators to thrive if given the opportunity.   Although these images were just created three months ago, they have already helped strengthen connections between Kenya Connect and donor organizations such as One.org and GlobalGiving. The images have been used to promote fundraising efforts in the form of electronic images, printed invitations and post cards, and appear on social media sites.

These images are being used currently to close the distance between Kenya and the US.

The Call to Action of Connecting Potential is that the students and educators of rural Kenya are passionate to learn, despite of the fact that they lack in the most basic of educational resources. If we can get sponsorship of programs such as KenyaConnect’s project in Wamunyu through donations of money and resources, the potential that that these students will have to change their future, and that of their families for the better will increase.    

One of the intended audiences of this essay is both potential donors and volunteers to help raise funds and manpower to increase the potential for students and educators in the 53 schools that Kenya Connect works. The other audience, that holds as much significance, is primary and secondary students around the world who will be able to use these images as educational tools to learn about the realities of education and life in other regions.

Delivering with Dignity

IMG_0331

 Delivering with Dignity Photo Essay

Delivering with Dignity portrays the the hope provided by Shanti Uganda’s multi-faceted approach to supporting and empowering birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS to enable them to develop to their full potential. It also documents the need for support of Shanti Uganda’s programs by sharing the realities that women and girls face in this region of Uganda.

This project was inspired by Shanti Uganda’s vision of imagining a world where birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS are supported, empowered and able to develop to their full potential. The goals for the project were to document the work of Shanti Uganda to raise awareness and funds through artistic images for continued operations of the organization.

Delivering with Dignity documents the collaborative work being done by volunteers and staff of Shanti Uganda to support and empower birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS in Nsaasi Village, as well as documenting the realities for women and girls in the region.

The mission of Shanti Uganda is to empower and support women through education, access to healthcare, income generation projects and by providing safe women-centered care for birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Through these opportunities, women will live dignified lives with healthy bodies, minds, and families and contribute back to their communities.

I chose to collaborate with Shanti Uganda because of their model to improve the lives of women and infants in a country where access to quality healthcare is limited, birthrates and infant mortality are very high, as well as a high prevalences of HIV/AIDS. After working in many aspects of international development, I support Shanti Uganda’s model of working on community level, sustainably and holistically.

Although these images were just created less than a year ago, they have been used by the staff of Shanti Uganda to raise awareness of the work of the organization on social media sites such as Facebook, blog sites, websites, slideshows, and contributed to fundraising for the Night of Art with prints of my images auctioned off to raise funds for continued operations, as well as representing Shanti Uganda at Maternal Health Week in Kampala May 2014.

Working with Shanti Uganda opened my eyes to the realities that women face in East Africa, and how well-aimed and well-intentioned development projects truly have and impact. The executive director of Shanti Uganda writes, “Ms. Martin’s photos have allowed The Shanti Uganda Society to create greater awareness of the life-saving work we are doing, as well as demonstrate the need for further support.” I am honored to relate Shanti’s story.

The Call to Action of Delivering with Dignity is that women in East Africa must work through many adversities (health-wise, socially, and financially) to keep themselves and their families healthy in mind and body. The motivation for the call to Action is that a small a amount of funds can truly have a positive impact on women and infants if used by a well-intentioned and well-exectuted project, such as Shanti Uganda’s birth house.