Last summer, Claire Payton—inspired by the post-earthquake chaos she saw unfolding in Haiti—bought an audio recorder, packed her bags, and booked a flight to Port-au-Prince.
Despite having studied Haiti extensively, her motivation to travel to Haiti was purely personal. She wanted to help tell people’s stories.
Soon after arriving in Port-au-Prince, she developed contacts and started doing interviews. Traveling to interviews was particularly challenging because of the traffic, which had worsened due to the buildings lying in the streets. When Claire arrived in Haiti, she spoke fluent French, but not Kreyol. After several interviews, and with help of translators, she developed a grasp on the language.
Almost a year later, Claire launched the Haiti Memory Project, an “online archive of oral testimony about the January 12, 2010, earthquake and post-earthquake life.” She was motivated to create the website so that she could share people’s stories with a broad audience.