Disaster Relief, Final Two Days

So, it’s Friday already? Time flew by down here in New Orleans. Our last two days we spent working too hard to blog! Yesterday we had a group go to ARNO, Animal Rescue of New Orleans and work. The students cleaned cat cages, walked dogs, organized, did laundry, washed dishes and cleaned. We had a great time interacting with NOLA’s animals. The overall favorite part was playing with the kittens. After a long day of work we went out to eat as a group to Ignacio’s. There was plenty of New Orleans cuisine, some participants even ordered alligator po-boys!

Today most of our group went to LaPlace, Louisiana to work on Hurricane Issac relief. We cleaned up all the mold and all the floors. The homeowner was overjoyed and very grateful we were there. Two of us stayed back at the United Saints, working on the panels for the Kid Smart program. They cut and framed  the back of 15 panels.

It seems as if the week went too fast. We were so lucky to be able to come down to the south and do some work. We’ve learned lots, anything from constructions to walking the New Orleans walk. NOLA has a special place in all of our hearts, and we hope to come back again.

Until then, goodbye New Orleans, thank you for providing a wonderful experience for our group.

-Kailie, Dani and Break AwayIMG_9754 IMG_9774 IMG_9715 Disaster Relief

Disaster Relief, Day 3!

Once again, we have had a wonderful day. The sun was out and shining all day long. Our group split up today, half of us went to our original site to work with Youth Rebuilds and half of us stayed at the United Saints to help prep panels for Kid Smart. Dani’s group went to Youth Rebuilds and worked with Mr. Willie, building end tables and finishing up all the bunk beds! Kailie’s group worked with United Saint’s long term volunteers building panels that will soon be painted by the children of Kid Smart and hung in a neighborhood that has been completely abandoned after the storm. Erica stayed in the kitchen, helping Kate, a long term volunteer, cook our delicious chicken and mashed potato dinner. In the mean time, Kailie, Liz, Ry and Andrew, worked with other long term volunteers on the streets of United Saints, listening to the jazz music blasting out of the surrounding homes. We worked with  Courtney, Henry and Bobby, three very amazing people. They all were very fun people to work with! If one thing is for sure, nobody down here is interested in coming back up to Vermont with us because “it’s too cold!”.

We have lots of New Orleans to explore still! We will continue to update you on our awesome adventure.

-Kailie and Disaster Relief NOLA

Disaster Relief – Day 3, Keep On Working!

Today was a good day. We all woke up with smiles on our faces, ready to work in the much anticipated sunshine and 65 degree weather! We munched on a delicious breakfast of bagels and cereal, provided by the United Saints and chatted with the other group that is staying with US, the alternative break group from Rochester Institute of Technology from New York. Their group has a total of 27 staff members and students! We have become quite aquatint with them, it’s no surprise we have done so either, we quickly realized they are here for the same reason we are, to help out the city of New Orleans, rebuild their city. 

After breakfast we headed over to work with the Youth Rebuild New Orleans program. We did various activities, including building bunk beds for their future volunteers to stay in. We later helped the YRNO unpack their offices into their new home, which they rebuilt themselves and will later sell to a NOLA teacher to help support the growing consciousness on education in New Orleans.There was a whole lot of saw dust flying in the air, but even more determination to get work done. I couldn’t have been luckier to be leading such a great group of Johnson State students.

One thing that was discussed today, was the dedication that the people of New Orleans have to rebuilding their own city and not to just rebuild it, but to make it better than before. Matt (YRNO Founder) told us that after the storm, the people of New Orleans knew there was much to be rebuilt, not just the city itself, but it’s task forces, like it’s criminal justice system and education system. The storm almost gave the city a new clean slate to rebuild itself into what it’s always wanted to be, grand.  

It has become clearer to all of us, just how lucky we are to live where we live, breathe the air we breathe and have what we have. Only two days in and many more days to go, we can not wait to keep working on. Every day we have a board up in the apartment with a quote, today’s quote was “How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it.” and what a beautiful day it was.

 

 

-Kailie & JSC Break Away Disaster Relief ImageImage

Disaster Relief New Orleans Day 2

Today we went on a lovely adventure to volunteer and explore Bourbon Street. We volunteered for the New Orleans Youth Recovery Project. Everyone was very nice and got a lot of work done. I built bunk beds and at first it was sort of difficult but by the end, I got to use a nail gun and felt pretty hardcore. Sort of like…a boss. Bourbon Street was really awesome. The culture was so different from what I’m used to and we saw lots of people with cool signs.
Being here is great.
-Liz Conard

Disaster Relief New Orleans Day 1

Well, we made it to New Orleans!! With two vans full of excited Johnson State College students we drove down all the way from Vermont to Louisiana to work with the United Saints 1st Recovery Project. We pulled into Central City at about 1130pm last night and got a full orientation of the United Saints area and the area around it! We are staying in an apartment that is five rooms,a kitchen and a bathroom, we lucked out for sure!

After a long nights rest, we woke up this morning and walked down to Loyola University and met Joe. Joe is the Advisor for Community Service Activities at LU. He introduced us to NOLA and the effects of Hurricane Katrina. We learned that right after the storm, people would take guided tours of the disasters as if the hurricane was just another New Orleans tourist attraction, it just doesn’t make sense.

Tonight we will rest and listen to the hail, anticipating tomorrow, which is our first work day! We can’t wait!

Stay tuned.

Kailie and JSC Disaster Relief NOLA group.

click here to learn more about United Saints 1st Recovery Project: http://www.unitedsaints.org/

Day Five – FoUrth Work Day

From Sam Flint – Well we are done officially.

This was our last faucet installation of the trip

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We spent the day filling in the last few trenches and scraping together whatever pipe we could find to finish the last few yards of work. In the end we finished 46 houses, 4 short of our goal of fifty. It we had the resources we would have exceeded that easily.

In the afternoon the community held a celebration in honor of the water project. There was dancing, music and lots of laughing.

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Three fourth grade girls performed a traditional Nicaraguan dance for us.

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The community was so thankful and it was emotional for all of us.

Tomorrow we head out at 7 am to catch a ferry and spend the night in Managua before our early morning flight back to the states.

Life goes on from here but it won’t be the same.

 

Day Four-Third Work Day

From Sam Flint – Today we were split into two groups and were sent to two big projects. Each line was connecting multiple houses to the main water line. It got hot early and our materials began to dwindle.

We began the trip with 1800 meters of water pipe to lay and accomplished this in only three days. We are still calculating the official number but we are almost positive we came in just under our goal of 50 houses.

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This is bitter sweet for me. Yes we did great work and helped provide water for almost 50 families but there are still hundreds more in the area without the resources to get water.

Water is a mandatory need for a human body. We can not survive without it, yet the rest of the world can somehow stand by and watch others struggle to fill that need. This is a world wide issue with billions being effected. Having consumable water is not a privilege but a human need and should have no monetary cost attached.

How many of you wake up wondering where you will get enough water to shower or wash your clothes? Do you ever worry the water you give your family will make them sick?

This has been an eye opening and empowering experience. And it’s not over yet.