Volunteering

Trip Start May 29, 2007
1
7
16
Trip End Jul 02, 2007


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Where I stayed
Camp Hope

Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Friday, June 8, 2007

Well I have been volunteering with Habitat for a week now, I wanted to post a blog earlier but there is very limited internet access here, there are two computers for public use here, and over three hundred volunteers staying at the camp, so internet time has been hard to come by. Luckily a friend I made here (Tamara) was nice enough to let me borrow her lap top, she was actually also nice enough to bring me to get my car fixed halfway across the city, but I'll write more about that in a bit.

Anyway, I guess I will start off with an overall picture of where I have been staying: The area that I am working at is located in Saint Bernard's Parish (A Parish is the equivalent of a county back home). This was an area that was hit just as hard as New Orleans but because it is not as well known, and as populated as NO it didn't get any where near as much media attention, despite the fact that about ninety percent of the homes in the Parish were damaged. Specifically I have been staying at Camp Hope which is a middle school that suffered massive flood damage (you can see places in the building where the water was as high as twelve feet), rather than refurbish it as a school the Parish decided to make it into a camp that can house up to 800 volunteers. The rooms are dorm-style, wth lots of bunk beds, there is an on site cafeteria that serves surprisingly really good food. The showers are located in another building, they aren't exactly clean, but are still a little bit better than my Bigelow apartment in Quincy haha. Overall the place is pretty basic with no frills but it definitely serves its purpose. If I had to describe its interior appearance in one word I'd say 'warehouse'.

Now onto what I have been doing for the last five days. We would arrive at our worksite between 7-8 in the mornign and work until 3-4 in the afternoon.. I guess compared to other jobs that is a pretty light workday but keep in mind thta the majority of people volunteering don't do manual labor on a daily basis, and that it is really freaking hot, and even more humid! I have been able to do a variety of different things, some of the more tedious stuff has been spackling and sanding, and the more fun jobs have been putting up drywall, roofing and putting up chain link fences. For the most part I haven't minded doing the physical labor, and I have learned how to do a few more handy things which is always good. I have been able to work with some fun people too which is cool, everyone has been really nice, which makes sense, I don't think a lot of jerks are likely to take a week of their vacation time to go volunteer for free.

My impressions of the Hurricane damage in St. Bernards Parish and NO: It is really still badly damaged here. ** sorry Im going to have to take a break here, there is a guy in this common room playing every single ringtone on his phone and it is getting really annoying....** Alright he stopped. Anyway, pretty much everywhere you go in the area, with the exception of the Fernech Quarter, there are still major signs of damage. Only 50% - 60% of the population has returned to the area, so there are tons of abandoned buildings. Every where you turn there are buildings that have been gutted, and a lot of buildings that look like they haven't been touched in the two years since the hurricane. There are also Fema trailers every where which are the tmeporary homes given to the residents until they can fix up there own homes, but it seems like a lot of people may end up living in them permanently. All in all there is still a whole lot of damage, and the organizations are definitely in need of more volunteers, especially since the story has pretty much fallen off the radar with the national media. So yeah, I would definitely recommend coming down here to work for a week, it is cheap, pretty fun, and a good excuse to go party in New Orleans, and on that note I am going to sign off and go do just that with Josh and Dave who have been drinking in the French Quarter since one in the afternoon...

I will try and post my pictures tomorrow...
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