Hello from hot and humid New Orleans! We just completed our last day on the work site with Habitat for Humanity. Time flies when you’re hammering nails!
It was a great week. While we’re all excited to return home, I think we’re a little bummed to be parting ways. I couldn’t have imagined a better group to take this trip with. To Sue, Jordan, Andrew, Ruthie, Ashley, Julia, Tom, and our fearless leader, Laurie, you guys are the BEST. Not only have we formed life-long bonds from our shared experiences this week, but we’ve also formed professional friendships that will help build relationships between our areas of the college. I can’t wait to work on projects with everyone back in Boston! Most of us did not know each other before this week, but we bonded very quickly and never looked back!
We’ve all been moved by the kind people of New Orleans East—the neighborhood where we’ve been volunteering.
One man stopped his car as he was driving by our worksite. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood my entire life,” he shared. “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate what ya’ll are doing.”
We also had the opportunity to work alongside several families who were putting in their “sweat equity” for the homes that Habitat will be building for them. Partner families are required to complete 350 hours of community service as part of their eligibility for the program. One woman actually completed her hours today! Very exciting! Now she is on her way to home ownership.
Earlier this week, we visited the Lower 9th Ward. It was heartbreaking to imagine how terrified people must have been when the levees broke and water came pouring into their neighborhood like a tidal wave. Many homes have been rebuilt by charity organizations like Habitat, but others remain dilapidated, eerie memorials of all that was lost. According to Jessica Hopper (2010), “About 15,000 people lived in the Lower Ninth Ward before Katrina. More than three quarters have not returned and probably never will” (ABC News).
While it is important for us to understand the pain, sadness, and loss that Katrina left in her wake, it is equally important that we experience the beauty and soul that is unique to New Orleans. We’ve fallen in love with the architecture, the music and the food. Emphasis on the FOOD! Oooo-wee! Shrimp and grits, anyone?
The music was equally spectacular, of course. I’ve realized that there is not enough tuba in my life! What an under-utilized instrument. Bring back the tuba, folks! From street performers to the pros, the music scene was bustling and tight.
New Orleans has officially stolen a piece of my heart. There is no other place quite like it. I can’t wait to come back…