Matt Rainwaters Documented a Haitian Hospital Without Running Water

All images by Matt Rainwaters. Used with Creative Commons Permission.

Through the power of photojournalism, we get to see and be aware of some of the most important real-life stories from every corner of the globe. There are times, however, when the stories aren’t for the faint of heart. We bring you one such story today with a powerful photo essay taken in Haiti by Austin, Texas-based photographer and film director Matt Rainwaters. In late February 2010, Matt was assigned to Haiti to document the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the country in early January of the same year. For nine days, he worked alongside tireless doctors who were sent to provide assistance to Haitians, photographing the heart-breaking scenes unfolding in a hospital without running water.

A woman with a broken leg is lifted from the pickup truck bed she was transported in to a wheelchair.

Patients wait for help in the ER.

A young boy looks into a tent that functions as the emergency room.

A 94 year old woman dies from an infected leg. Doctors must choose between letting her die naturally or risk her dying during the surgery to amputate her leg.

A woman watches as her daughter dies from septic shock.

A few days later she dies in the room functioning as an intensive care unit.

Insightful and unflinching, Matt captured the many faces of reality in poverty-stricken lands such as Haiti. Tension runs high when a massive catastrophe hits, and everyone is forced to make the most of what they have to survive and save lives — even if that means running everything as usual in a hospital with minimal supplies, and without something as basic as running water. In his photos, we see patients in agony, victims being transported in wheelchairs, families awaiting the tragic deaths of their loved ones, make-shift Intensive Care Units, and stomach-turning surgeries. Doctors had to make the hardest choices and life-and-death decisions for the very young, the very old, and the very poor. Knowing that everything was happening in the absence of clean, running water is nothing short of unsettling.

Post amputation.

A nine month-old suffers from malnutrition and has to be fed formula through a a make shift nasogastric tube substituted with a urinary catheter.

Doctors in the background discuss surgical options for a pediatric patient.

A man restlessly lays awake during surgery.

Surgeons work in a makeshift operation room, worn out from improvising techniques all day long with minimal supplies in a hospital with no running water.

It’s difficult to imagine how documentary photographers like Matt keep their calm and composure after just a day of hospital scenes in such dire conditions. This body of work certainly shows the bravery, objectivity, and passion for documentary work involved in bringing us thought-provoking stories and perspectives.

Head to Matt Rainwaters’ Behance page to see the rest of this powerful series entitled A Hospital With No Running Water, and view his other projects.