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About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community.
When It Rains
We expected a lot of rain this trip; we’d been told it was the rainy season and it poured every day. So far, we’ve only seen two rainfalls. Both have been in the evening and haven’t interrupted much; except last night’s planned blog post.
Yesterday was the hottest day of our trip, and Pete and I spent it in Grand Goave following local nurse Tori Wentz as she worked in a clinic in the rural town by the mountains and the ocean. It was very hot work. The people there seem to love Tori, and it was wonderful to see them just stop her on the road to talk.
But many parts of the day were discouraging. The ride took us through the worst devastation we’ve seen so far–we rode through the epicenter of the earthquake. Some areas looked like ancient, abandoned ruins–if the ruins doubled as campgrounds. Tents would line road medians, and sometimes a row of tents would appear in the road itself. We past piles of trash as tall as I am and everywhere there were hills of rubble. Some people tried to clear them, using brooms, shovels and wheelbarrows. In a 2-hour ride, we saw only four large construction trucks.
And while I’ve spent most of the trip trying to simply record the poverty and destruction instead of processing it, I couldn’t help but cry at times while riding in the car. Luckily, I wore sunglasses to hide this. Sometimes, we would pass what used to be multi-storied buildings. Our driver would sometimes point and tell us that bodies were still inside. The crushed levels were especially poignant because in Haiti, a story represents hope for the future. People often build one story at a time, planning to add more when they have the means.
It started to rain during dinner, a few fat drops bringing welcome relief from the heat. People started to get up and go inside. I couldn’t make myself leave, even as the rainfall accelerated. It simply felt good. During the first rain, I worried about the people living in tents, especially those in the tents made only of a few sticks and tattered old bedsheets. I thought about how water is both good and bad at the same time: the parched earth needs the moisture, the city needs the cleansing. But it would destroy many of these simple homes.
But this rain, I didn’t think. I just felt. My clothes and hair stuck to my body, and I could barely see. So we grabbed a soccer ball and headed for the muddy field. The rain provided both a relief from the heat and a relief from the stress.
Luckily, there are no photos of this, but Pete is getting some truly amazing shots of Haiti. I hope to share more with you in upcoming posts–you’ve seen some of his work in earlier posts.