Richard Robbins sits behind a camera while interviewing girl

Haitians live in a place that seems, to an outsider, lost in the massive distance between the real and the possible. It’s the first and perhaps only nation to emerge from a successful slave revolt. Few nations have been born instilled with such promise. But that promise has spent two centuries out of reach, half promise and half taunt. It lives in the incredible resilience and aspiration of the Haitian people. A pride that remains undimmed.

Haiti was the first place we travelled for 10x10, where I actually felt ashamed. Ashamed to be a voyeur in a place of struggle. Ashamed to have spent 40 years acquiring so little truly useful knowledge.

Not that the Haitians were not friendly. They were unfailingly friendly. The insult, my insult, was to go to a place in such desperate need and to bring them so little of value. I am not a doctor. I know little about agriculture. I cannot advise about finance. I have never studied engineering. Really, I am just an observer. On my good days, perhaps an artist.

So I was grateful to have Edwidge Danticat with us. Nearly everything I know about Haiti, I know from her books. And few people have ever made as compelling a case for the value of art and storytelling as Edwidge does in her book Create Dangerously. We must work, she writes, “as though each piece of art were a stand-in for a life, a soul, a future. We have no other choice.”

So wandering through a tent camp full of Haitians whose homes were destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 2010, I took mental notes as though a life—"a life, a soul, a future"—depended on it: the straight back of a girl carrying a battered plastic jug of water on her head; the steady hand of the man re-painting the sign of his makeshift shop; the soothing sound of Creole greetings exchanged between friends or neighbors or strangers; the graffiti which reads, “tout bagay se posib - kwè.”

I asked for a translation, which came with a familiar ironic smile. “Everything is possible. Believe.”