Scott McCollum spent five weeks in a country, which in the past year was struck by a horrendous earthquake that caused severe damage to what was already labeled the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere by the Central Intelligence Agency.
These five weeks, he said, felt more like five months. But, that is what happens when one travels from a country, where everything operates on a New York minute, to a country where there is not much to do besides clear rubble and endure suffering.
But McCollum wasn’t necessarily the one enduring the suffering, though he had his share of hardships in the five weeks he spent in Haiti. He was the one documenting it.
On June 23, McCollum left the United States with a rookie non-profit organization called Poverty Resolutions, based in Philadelphia, to film a documentary that would give viewers a deeper understanding of the conditions in Haiti.
Four of his team members lived like the typical Haitians, by trying to survive on only a dollar a day.
For 28 days, they had only one dollar each day to spend on food and water. They also took up residence in a tent city, slept with only one blanket, had no access to toiletries, could not accept food and water from the Haitians (though, they could scavenge for food if they could find it), and had only two sets of clothes with the inability to do laundry.
McCollum did not expect the opportunity to be a videographer on this trip, going into the summer. In fact, this was a last minute decision.
On the last day of school, McCollum packed everything into his car, then remembered to stop by the career services office and talk to Liz Jorden, assistant director of career services, about finding an internship. She forwarded him an email that she received from Poverty Resolutions about this internship and within 48 hours, McCollum’s plane ticket was purchased.
McCollum, who is a graphic design major with a concentration in film, said film is his passion.
“This just seemed like a great opportunity to further my passion with video and also be able to travel and go to a country with other Christian men, to share my faith,” McCollum said.
The trip had three goals: to share the gospel, to produce a documentary and to raise awareness among both Christians and nonbelievers in the United States.
Although this group was made up of Christian men dedicated to sharing the Gospel, McCollum said their goal was not to create a Christian documentary.
“We didn’t create a Christian film,” McCollum said. “It’s a ‘Life in Haiti’ film with real stories and Christ is in the story.”
McCollum put together five short promos in order to spark interest. These can be viewed on the organization’s website, povertyresolutions.org, in October. The site is currently under construction.
For the next four to six months, McCollum will be editing the documentary.
“That’s probably the hardest thing right now,” McCollum said. “We filmed 60 hours. And, just going back and watching the same clips over and over, the images have really been engraved in my mind.”
“I’ve seen things there that I will never forget. We have some powerful video and that’s what we’re kind of hoping to show to people who don’t have an accurate picture of what life in Haiti really looks like” he said.
Once the documentary is finished, some of the group members will begin showing it in churches and schools. It will also be posted on their website and viewers will be able to respond by making donations.
McCollum’s personal experience won’t be reflected in the film, but he said he did learn a lot. He realized that the lives American live is not normal.
“The life in Haiti is probably closer to other country’s lifestyles than America ever will be,” McCollum said. “I’ve been extremely blessed to live in [America]. I look at my life through different eyes after seeing that.”
McCollum also saw how difficult living in poverty really is.
“After the guys finished their journey, what they found was that it’s possible to live on a dollar a day,” McCollum said. “Most of the world lives on a dollar a day but it’s a terrible and extremely hard life that unfortunately many people live.”
To see more about Scott McCollum’s trip to Haiti, visit the groups blog at lifeinhaiti.com.