Award takes Haitian native back home to document earthquake recovery
More than three years after one of the worst natural disasters in memory in the western hemisphere, recovery remains painfully slow from the earthquake that killed close to a quarter million people in Haiti. Widline Cadet, a 2013 City College of New York graduate, is documenting the aftermath through photography as a 2013 Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellow.
She is supported by $19,000 stipend from the Mortimer and Sara Hays Endowment at Brandeis University. The fellowships provide support for travel and living expenses overseas to students in the visual and fine arts, including art history, conservation, studio art and photography.
Ms. Cadet, a Haitian-born photographer who earned a BA in studio art at City College, has been in her homeland since last summer capturing life in the Caribbean nation as it returns to normalcy.
“The effects of the earthquake are evident in day-to-day life there. Reconstruction has been somewhat slow,” she said during a break in New York.
According to the United Nations, 358,000 people are still living in camps; there have been 631,801 cholera cases and 2.1 million of Haiti’s estimated population of 9.7 million people face severe food insecurity.
Ms. Cadet pointed to the dire situation in a camp in the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Residents there live in tin huts next to a mass grave called “Titanyen,” where thousands of earthquake victims are buried. “Haiti still needs help in terms of recovery,” she added.
A Washington Heights resident who came to the United States in 2001, Ms. Cadet had proposed Haiti as her project in her application as a way to help its recovery through photography. She plans an exhibition of her Haiti images and a photo book after the fellowship ends next June.
She is the 11th CCNY student since 1994 to receive the competitive award, which is open only to applicants from a select group of institutions. Besides City College, that group includes Boston, Brandeis, Columbia, Harvard and Yale universities.
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Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.