As much as Maria Atkinson loved living life in Oklahoma City, she knew there was always something missing. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2011 with her Bachelors degree in Photojournalism and International Studies, she spent a few years trying to find her place. After volunteering her time at various places and organizations, one of which was, the Plaza District, she received an offer than changed her life.
Last September, she traveled to Haiti for the very first time. “The moment I crossed the border and set foot on Haitian soil, I knew I was home,” says Maria.
For the past year, Maria has lived as a full-time missionary in Haiti. She spent her first six months as a photographer for an orphanage, and for the past six months, she has devoted her time as the media and communications coordinator for a start-up community development organization known as, “Reimagine Haiti”. Maria lives and works in one of the most rural places in all of Haiti, a town called Belle-Anse, located on the southeast coast.
She devotes her time to telling the stories of the Haitian people she has developed friendships with through impactful, visual images and blog posts.
“So many people only know the negative sides of Haiti. The earthquake, the poverty, the political unrest. I’ve discovered such a beauty and strength here and it’s a story that must be told,” Maria explains.
Maria has complied a photographic body of work entitled, “Kenbe Fém”, Haitian Creole for “hold strong”, which she will be displaying at the December LIVE on the Plaza at The Parish. Come and see and hear the stories of strength and perseverance as Maria shares about her experiences as a missionary photojournalist in Haiti. The evening will be accompanied by musical performance by Stephen Salewon, and poetry readings by Najah Hylton.