7 photographs that show the strength of Haitian women, even in the face of devastation

Written by Amy Beecham

A photographer has captured the devastation and displacement caused by the island’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

On Saturday 14 August, around 8.30am local time, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck south-western Haiti and caused widespread devestation to the island. The latest figures from Haiti’s Civil Protection Department show that the death toll has surged to more than 2,000 killed and 12,200 injured. As such, a one-month state of emergency has been declared by the national authorities and national and international humanitarian actors in country are currently coordinating a response.

According to ActionAid Haiti, at least 130,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving thousands of people homeless and in need of urgent shelter.

Photographer Fabienne Douce has captured some powerful images in Jérémie, one of the worst-hit parts of the island, which paint a harrowing picture of how the lives of women and children have been turned upside down by the disaster.

Felix Ezeline surveys the damage to her home

Felix Ezeline, a mother of four, is currently living on the streets with her children under a makeshift shelter after her home collapsed. She told ActionAid Haiti that she’s exposed to “all kinds of aggression” on the street and that her whole family is traumatised. 

Ozelle, an earthquake survivor, in her home

“I have collected all the possessions I have in a corner of what remains of my home,” Ozelle, an earthquake survivor, told ActionAid Haiti.

Haiti earthquake: 7 powerful images that show the the devastating impact on women and girls

Estabelle stands in front of what is left of her home while sheltering from the rain

The ruins of the Durenton National School in Jeremie

Paulène and her daughter Natalie, in front of their house

“I was going into the garden to pick some bananas to eat, when there was something telling me not to leave my blind mother at home. I took her hand and made her sit on a chair in the garden a few meters from the house. I felt the earth shaking under my feet and I started to call for help. The next thing I saw was my mother and my daughter on the ground. I ran towards the house and I saw that the wall had collapsed on my mother’s bed and onto other parts of the house.”

Marie Dieula, a Haitian woman, recalls the events of the earthquake

Marie Dieula told ActionAid Haiti that she “felt a great shock in my heart when I saw that the walls of my house had fallen to the ground.” Marie, her husband and four children are sleeping in the courtyard of their home in very difficult conditions, with no bed, adequate heating equipment, drinking water or hygiene products. They are hungry and traumatised.


ActionAid has set up an emergency fundraising appeal to help teams on the ground in the worst affected areas of Jérémie and Les Cayes respond to people’s most urgent needs.

ActionAid knows that women and girls often suffer the most during humanitarian emergencies. Typically, more women than men are killed by rapid onset disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes, and violence against women and girls increases during all emergencies. 

Images: Fabienne Douce/ActionAid

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