I view traveling as a privilege, not a right. People travel for many different reasons such as: relaxation or luxury. I like to use traveling to learn about different cultures, people, and history. My trip to New Orleans, with my Midway Baptist Youth Group, opened up a brand new view on life for me and opened my eyes to the beauty and blessings around me.
New Orleans is a large city of 35,000 buildings and a population of about 343,829 people. Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005 causing unprecedented damages for everything and everybody. There were 1,400 lives lost that year and destruction to 95% of the city. The population of homeless people in New Orleans is 56%.
I volunteered to go to New Orleans with my youth group and help the children who had been effected by Katrina. Arriving there, it was so sad to see these massive buildings still in ruins. People young and old were scattered amongst palm trees on the street trying to keep cool. The weather there was really hot and dry. The average temperature was about 98 but there was always a soft breeze blowing off of the ocean. Everywhere I looked, the buildings were brightly colored and there was a good amount of graffiti on the brick walls that still stood. We all walked up the steps of the Tulane University college. This is where we stayed for the time. It was not modern looking but more vintage like. It was a bit small for a university and had three dorm buildings: one for the girls, one for the boys, and one for the elite students.
After we unpacked and set up, everyone gathered at the main hall to obtain directions for our tracks (Tracks are the different places that we went and volunteered). My track was a homeless children's camp called Casa de Pibito. There I played with little kids and taught them about basic things such as: colors, shapes, and numbers. We brought jump ropes, hula-hoops, bouncy balls, and other toys for them to mess around with. I taught a group of three girls multiple songs on my ukulele and dance moves. Their smiles were priceless and their faces lit up every time we sang together. They all were very attentive to what I said. Some of them spoke Spanish and I translated as best I could with the few years I had been in Spanish at my school.
After all the fun was over, we each split up with a group of 6 to 10 kids and went into different rooms. I took turns listening to each of the kids as they told their life stories in great detail. My mind boggled at some of the words that came from their tiny mouths. Some of the stories were unbearable to listen to and others were just sad. They told me about how their moms and dads left them to go do drugs and others because they could not afford them. I heard stories of how they were treated and how they were neglected. All I could do is give them lots of hugs and love on them as no one ever did. We gave them nutritious foods and told them we would never forget them.
I never will forget that trip. New Orleans is a city with great potential and rich in culture. It is one of my favorite places to travel now. I hope to be able to continue going there to help the kids and to help build back the beauty of the city.
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