In Such a Filthy Place

The following is from my book Hidden in the Rubble: A Haitian Pilgrimage to Compassion and Resurrection. [Orbis Books, 2010]

Sometimes when I am filming, something totally unexpected happens. In Cité Soleil, I saw a little girl, perhaps five or six years old, walking through the trash. She had on rags, yet she somehow radiated a sense of beauty and innocence. I turned on the video camera and followed her as she walked. Flies and insects were swirling around her. She was not wearing shoes, yet she was walking through trash that had to contain hidden sharp objects. I had no idea where she was going, I just found her image and the gentle way she walked to be compelling, and so I kept the camera rolling as I followed her solitary journey. Suddenly, she stopped, pulled down her shorts and squatted down to urinate. As soon as I realized what was happening, I quickly panned the camera away to protect her privacy and dignity. But that little girl, walking barefoot through the trash surrounded by a host of bugs, on a journey to a quiet spot to pee really disturbed me, deeply upset me. But that is the reality. And we can’t hide from it. This is hard stuff to see, and it forces us to face hard choices as how to respond. There should be no place on earth, where an innocent, little girl should be forced to urinate in such a filthy place and in such a public manner.

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3 Responses to “In Such a Filthy Place”


  1. 1 Rev. Paul McKay May 11, 2014 at 7:08 am

    What a powerful and telling image.

  2. 2 aliceny May 11, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Dignity (worthiness) is not a gift. It is a basic human right. It is the first of many grinding miseries that the poor suffer. They are told by implication and by overt action that they do not matter, that they have no entitlements.

  3. 3 Jerry May 12, 2014 at 9:59 am

    This story is a powerful reminder to all of us to “walk the talk”. As we all do this, even in very small ways, we help bring God’s love into the world. And now, for the first time in human history, there is enough for all. So now, for the first time in human history, we can make St. Teresa of Avila’s saying about being the hands and feet of the Christ into a living reality which will change the world.


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