And he's off...
Bright and early this morning, the lad took off with six other friends for a hiking/camping expedition somewhere in the New Hampshire mountains. He called a while ago to let me know they’d arrived and were about to head off up the trail. He had to pass off his phone to let the others do likewise. The weather looks like it’ll be good for them and they should return sometime on Thursday evening.
Then we have to rush around and prepare him for his trip to New Orleans. He’s leaving on Sunday morning for a two week stay. The outfit that he’s volunteering with has him scheduled to spend his two weeks in a small place called Violet, which is about seven miles to the southeast of the city on the east bank of the Mississippi—in St. Bernard Parish. The town was pretty much destroyed. He’ll be staying in a schoolhouse and work his behind off during the daylight hours.
The one thing the people, with whom he’s been corresponding, have made clear is that they can’t wait to see him arrive. And they will meet him at the airport. If there is one thing they lack (besides funds and federal assistance) it’s willing hands to do the hard work of tearing down and building up. They told him this will be a life changing event for him, as it has been for all of them. The devastation is beyond description. They are thankful for anyone who will show up and work. But even so, they have fun, too. They make their own fun in very old fashioned ways—with each other. It’s a different world—like a third world.
Since the hurricane, people still don’t have normal resources. Groceries are still not being delivered (no stores left) and there is virtually no place to get food or prepare food outside of the city of New Orleans. Violet has just reopened and people are coming back to total destruction. Almost nothing has been done there since the hurricane. One of things Emergency Communities has done is set up ‘kitchens’ within St. Bernard parish. Part of the lad’s duties will probably also include vegetable chopping and food slinging while he’s there. They feed a lot of people every day.
He’s looking forward to this and, I imagine, when he returns, he’ll have some amazing stories to tell. Being deeply immersed in that kind of atmosphere (life among the ruins) can’t do anything other than change one’s entire world view.