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About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community. You can email her at

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A Land of Contrasts

I know the phrase “a land of contrasts” is overused. But it truly describes Haiti. How else could you say that the city is covered in greyish dust, but also bursting with color? The roads, the sidewalk are grey and covered in rock, rubble and trash. But the buildings and vehicles are almost all painted in bright colors. Walls, signs and small shacks advertise everything: produce, cell phones, internet cafes, soda.

And the streets are lined with trash, sewage and rubble. But the Haitians themselves are very clean. Walking down the street, I stepped in a mud puddle and got my shoes and skirt dirty. Several people stopped me and pointed to my skirt, trying to tell me I needed to clean it.

The people themselves are very poor. But very generous. They are desperate. But mostly happy.

And very, very resilient. I guess the same fortitude that makes you drive down a road where trucks stop and turn around in front of you, drive right into your path or ignore turning lanes is the same trait that gets you through the desperation.

They have faith, and while interviewing a few Haitians, all have told me they don’t blame God for the earthquake but thank him for sparing them.

Still, they are scared. When a tremor shook the ground yesterday, all the Haitians in the clinic jumped up and fled before I even figured out what happened.

Afterward, they laughed in relief–and at each other for their overreactions. But I can’t help but think how terrifying every shift of the earth must feel. You never know when the next quake will hit.

The day has been a good one. I spent quite a bit of it with the children. They play soccer with an empty plastic bottle and jacks with a handful of rocks.

The mission team has helped many people get healthcare, and it’s been great to see their dedication and their love for the people they are helping.


  • Shawn Sloan

    When you said you would be gone, I didn’t realize you were leaving the country! Great posts. Thank you for helping to keep the story alive about Haiti and for covering the work of this local team.

  • rusty dennen

    Amy: Great posts. Look forward to them each day, along with Pete’s great pix. Sounds like you’re getting the most out of this great adventure.