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01/18/2010

The (clean) shirts on their backs

By Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis

The (clean) shirts on their backs

One of the things that has baffled, amazed and surprised me is the cleanliness of the Haitian people under these impossibly difficult conditions. The tent cities are teeming with garbage and there's concrete dust everywhere. Yet if you look closely, most people are wearing remarkably clean clothing. It's especially impressive because some were left with only what they had on at the time of the earthquake.

Finally I asked our translator Aldrin about it. He explained the tradition is rooted in the French influence: Haitians pride themselves on always looking good. Even under these conditions they won't wear the same clothes two days in a row without washing them. Even though water is scarce, he, like so many we've seen, saves a little water to bathe and wash his clothes. The sight of garments drying in the sun is everywhere.

It's encouraging to see that this catastrophe hasn't claimed the people's sense of dignity.

Marcus

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