Our very large group has been broken up into five teams for the purposes of reflection and connection. These teams are: The Mighty Magnolias, The Catahoula Hounds, The Green Tree Frogs, The Honey Bees, and the Eastern Brown Pelicans. Our first reflection is from the Mighty Magnolias
Our first day at work was a long one! We started early with a 6am breakfast and had some time to get ourselves ready to set out to our work site at 7:30. Upon first arriving at the site, the remains of what once was St. Margaret’s Nursing Home in the 9th ward, we were giving an orientation from the director of Operation Nehemiah, Fred Franke. He emphasized how grateful the New Orleans community is that we are here to help (this point was driven home when one of the local residents came out of his house to thank us personally.) We then split up into three groups; a little more than half of us stayed to do demolition work on the former St. Margaret’s buildings and others bused over to the new, operating St. Margaret’s Nursing Home to talk to residents, and our nursing students went door to door offering health screenings for the local clinic. Volunteers at the new St. Margaret’s building helped to prepare and host a St. Patrick’s Day party, enjoyed music with residents, read to and got to know the residents as well. Some projects at eh demolition site included removing sinks and light fixtures, clearing debris and knocking down walls (all of which was fun but tiring!) The former St. Margaret’s site was very interesting because many of the residents’ belongings have remained untouched since the storm. It seems, in the 9th ward, as though Katrina stopped time and many of us found ourselves imagining this place on August 29th, 2005 under 7 feet of water, when so many people had to leave their lives behind (and many of them, to this day, still have little or nothing to return to.) We continue to reflect on what we are doing and why we are here. We are challenged to keep our minds turning throughout the week and even longer, seeing that our impact and our reflection doesn’t need to end when we return to Bloomington this weekend. After a physically and mentally exhausting day, sleep seems like a great gift before we are ready to start a new day tomorrow!
— The Mighty Magnolias