Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Building Hope

Whew am I tired. I'm getting ready for my next trip to New Orleans at the end of March to help rebuild. And I have been fielding phone calls, filling out forms, and making arrangements for the 15+ people who will be in our group. My throat is raw from talking all day, but it is absolutely worth it.

I know I've mentioned this trip before and I'll continue to go on mentioning it. I know there are immediate disasters on Chile and Haiti, but we cannot forget about New Orleans. NOLA is still in shambles. They were forgotten after Katrina. And the only saviors that city has had are volunteers. Friends of mine who have gone for 4 years say that it will take 10 years to rebuild New Orleans and they're absolutely right! It will take years.

This was the house behind the house we were building last year

And it's not the houses that are still falling down, that no one has gutted or bulldozed or refurbished that bother me the most. There are many of those left and it breaks my heart to see them, yes. It broke my heart when I saw a family whose stoop had been completely washed away, so they had a step ladder to get into their home. How awful is that? 

This house has been gutted, but I doubt will be rebuilt. 
Most houses like these will hopefully be torn down.

What bothers me the most is the emptiness. The vacant lots where the pylons are the only remnants of houses that once where. New Orleans is like a ghost town. 

In the lower 9th Ward, near where the levees broke

And it's so important to volunteer. Give a week of your life. Stay for dirt cheap at Camp Hope. And build some houses. Restore public places. Meet the locals. See NOLA outside of the Quarter. And really, really do something important.

This trip puts life in perspective for me. A friend and I were talking today about how easy it is to moan about how hard our lives are. How easy to whine and complain about the dumbest of things that can make life seem so crappy. But really, REALLY, our lives are great. We have jobs. We have homes. We have cushy little lives and it's hard to appreciate that most of the time.

This is me last year, hammerin' in the rat runs like a pro

So once again, I'm off to New Orleans to get dirty, work until my arms and legs fall off, take cold showers and sleep on bunk beds. And it's the best time I could possibly have. I'll bond with my fellow workers, meet amazing volunteers from all over the country and even the world, and hear stories from some of the most resilient local people you could ever know. 

With the best volunteers ever

And let's not forget the AMAZING FOOD! Muffalettas, Beignets, Po Boys, Crawfish pies, Gumbo...OHMYGOODGOD the food is wonderful. I cannot wait! It's a good thing we work so hard, because otherwise I'd come home 10 pounds heavier, yo. 

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