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I’ll never forget sitting on my couch and watching CNN during the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. I was dumbfounded. I couldn't believe my eyes. But more importantly, I couldn't believe what the media was saying about it. They just kept mentioning how many buildings had fallen and how many people died. It was all stats.

But what about the people? What about their stories? I wondered. "What if those people could tweet? What would they tell the world right now?”

I thought, what if I went down there myself and gave them a microphone instead? A microphone in the form of a photograph? So I went to Haiti shortly thereafter and asked people what they had to tell the world. The results were staggering. Heart-wrenching. Beautiful. Inspiring. Hopeful.

After losing his leg in the earthquake, one man said, "My chopped leg is not the problem. The lack of government is the problem." Another man said, "The earth may shake, but Haiti remains in my heart."

One woman simply prayed, “God, show me the path of hope".
I did find glimpses of hope there -- in the most unlikely places.

In fact, one couple was moving forward with their wedding. The thought was crazy. There were still aftershocks. Dead bodies lying everywhere. Who would get married among all this? We finally found the wedding, and we asked them what they had to say to the world. Their response? "Love Conquers All."

When we got back home, the United Nations caught wind of my project and ended up printing the images for a monumental meeting with many world leaders who were going to be making a pledge towards rebuilding Haiti. After walking through a hallway of my "Voices of Haiti" images before the meeting, they sat down and pledged $10 billion dollars to rebuild Haiti.

Their voices… were heard. Their hope was felt. And many people were helped.

After that, my wife Shannon and I began the process of adopting two children from Haiti. It took many years, but we never gave up hope. They’re now home with our two biological children and we’re building a new life together.

Haiti taught me that hope can be found everywhere if you’re intentional about uncovering it. I realized that you have to open your heart and get your feet moving to find it.

My passion is to create and to help people. The intersection of those is my life’s purpose. It’s where I see hope rise the strongest. That’s why I’m pursuing the most ambitious project of my life: to build a global hotel chain called The Purpose Hotel, where everything in the hotel is connected to a greater cause or need. I want us to send a message of hope to the world that we can make a difference, and we can do it together.

Everyone deserves hope.


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