Friday, March 14, 2008

Giving a Little Back

March 14th
New Orleans, LA

Quote of the Day: “It doesn’t matter if you build it right, as long as you build it with heart.”

After a long night of traveling and a few hours rest, we set off for our first day of work. We went to First Church, a Unitarian Universalist church, and met up with Paulie our team leader of the day who gave us our three goals. The first team set up scaffolding in order to demolish a wall. Balancing 20 feet in the air we took our turns swinging hammers into the wall. The next group built a work table from scratch using saws and power tools. And the third group set up some marking systems for drywall installation on a ceiling.

During the day we also had an opportunity to take a walk around the neighborhood. As we looked on in awe we found some houses completely intact and redone while some were in the stages of rebuilding and to most of our surprise there were houses which were still damaged and abandoned. We also saw this very clearly through our rides to and from the construction site. We all couldn’t believe the state of disrepair after two and half years since the hurricane.

Tonight, after a few hours rest and rejuvenation we will be joining the local Jewish community for Shabbat services and a chicken gumbo dinner at synagogue Anshe Sfard.

Shabbat Shalom from New Orleans,

Batya and Rebecca

March 14, 2008
New Orleans

Today was the first day of work for the Gann delegation and the group learned quickly of some of the obstacles that people face while trying to rebuild their homes. The group's trip was graciously helped planned by members outside of the Gann community that were moved by last year's group. So today, we worked to help them continue to build their volunteer center. The lesson came early on as we found out that the materials that were supposed to be used for the day's build had been delayed a week. It is New Orleans, so we can't say it was unexpected and we went with the flow. Paulie scrambled to find other work for us to do and in the end the group had a good first day learning some skills that will come in handy later in the week when we move to St. Bernard's Parish to work.

Tonight and tomorrow we will spend Shabbat with our gracious hosts at Anshe Sfard, as they've down more than we ever would have asked to help us on our trip. Tomorrow night we'll move out of the city to other accommodations for the rest of the week in Gretna to help give us better access to St. Bernard's Parish.

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