My Trip to New Orleans
It all looked the same. Five years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, nothing has been done. How can the government forget about people like this? This past summer I went to New Orleans, Louisiana, and spent two weeks volunteering in the Lower-Ninth Ward with an organization I participate in called Sistas’ & Brothas’ United. A couple of my friends and I got the chance to work in the community and learn about the current development of the food justice movement.
August 13, 2010. Friday morning came, and I was tremendously excited to finally visit New Orleans for the first time. Thoughts of how the south looked always came to mind. The intense heat, the great jazz, the many farms, and the welcoming people were all things I knew Louisiana was known for, but it was truly something I had to witness for myself.
While I was in, New Orleans Irealized that the community worked in unison even though the poverty level is low. They always tend to each others needs. It reminded me of when I was growing up in the Dominican Republic, where my neighbors have always been considered my second family. Things like this you do not see very often in the community I currently live in. People always keep to themselves.
During the course of our stay, we carried out a different task everyday. Some days we would work on the garden: harvesting, weeding, and/or composting. Other days we would take tours around the community to learn more about how Hurricane Katrina affected and is still affecting millions of people in New Orleans. Evenings were always spent reflecting on how our days went by. And with those reflections being kept in mind, we would relate it to a different workshop everyday
During one of the workshops, our group organizer gave us a quote by Lila Watson to contemplate; “If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”. In other words if your attending to someone’s needs with a sense of pity, then you’re not helping that person for the right reasons. When you help someone, it should be because you feel deep inside a burning passion to help others. That is volunteering for the right reasons.
This is the reason why I volunteer and the reason why I love what I do. Giving back to my community and other communities is something I really enjoy. The many problems people face around the world always has an impact on our lives too. It’s up to us, as the future generation to do something about it. After this trip I’ve realized that I should be more thankful for the things I have. There are so many families that have fewer things than I have, and they are still grateful. Even if they do not have a roof over there heads, they are still appreciating every second of their lives.
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