Art for Haiti sends health care, supplies to earthquake victims

August 25, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Marek Hosek captured the images and they, in turn, captured him: children with overwhelming sadness in their eyes and waterways overflowing with trash.

"The most striking thing was just the devastation, you know. Like nothing's cleaned up. There's absolutely no construction going on anywhere and if there is it's just like a couple of people cleaning off some stuff, some rubble," Marek Hosek said.

Hosek accompanied a team of doctors from Rush University Medical Center recently as they traveled to offer aid in Haiti. Hosek's role was to take photos to document the trip. He is now turning those snapshots into a benefit called "Art for Haiti."

"How cool would it be to do something after, just bring awareness to what's going on, how the people are living after the earthquake and just what the situation is over there," Hosek said. "When you go and they have no running water and they're thankful for you giving them a piece of chocolate. It just kind of makes you think like, 'Wow I have it really good.'"

Dr. Stephanie Wang is a medical director at Rush who leads the global health program. She assembled a team of about 20 physicians who volunteered to deliver aid after the earthquake in 2009.

"We provided primarily surgical care on that trip, orthopedic vascular services and really decided that we didn't want to stop going," Dr. Wang said.

Wang has led four other groups of volunteers since and has another trip scheduled for the fall. While many of the medical supplies are donated and all of the doctors pay their own way, Wang says the cost is considerable, but the need is even greater.

"To give you an idea of one person traveling -- and we travel very simply -- for a week for about $1,500. Usually the teams are comprised of about 12 to 15 people and that's just for us. The supplies, all the costs on the other side, it's extensive," Dr. Wang said. "Part of this money that we raise will go for scholarships and the rest will go for infrastructure of the clinic and some public health projects at the camp."

Hosek says he hopes his artwork will impact others the way the visit impacted him. His favorite photo came during a visit to an orphanage.

"We brought them toys. We brought them chalk so they can draw on the street. We brought them some medical supplies," Hosek said. "One of the nurses, Andrea, she started twirling this little girl around and I'm like that's such a cool and happy instant moment that I could capture. And I clicked it. And I got it."

Enlarged prints of the photos will be for sale at the Art for Haiti benefit on Friday, September 9th at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th Street, from 6 to 11 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $25.

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