Well, here I am in my second week down south. Where we’ve been staying seems like a mosaic to me —  New Orleans has the eclectic French Quarter, the musically-driven Frenchmen St., and the circus-like Bourbon St. (once was enough for me :p), while St. Bernard Parish seems to have a lot more work to be done to get back on its feet, and my only visual memories of the place are deserted streets right next to pockets of beautiful homes. This far into the trip, it’s still hard to register what I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard from some of the homeowners and guest speakers. One of the strangest things to realize is not only what is left almost five years after Hurricane Katrina, but also what is missing. I haven’t seen very many children in my time in the St. Bernard Parish. It’s great to hear that the school systems are slowly getting back on track, but it’s still eerie not to see them playing outside…ever. A public hospital is finally going up within the next few weeks, which will hopefully welcome back more elderly residents, but it is still odd to see so few of them on their porches or talking to neighbours (if there are neighbours at all) like I would back home in Woodbridge.

I am LOVING the rebuilding experience though, especially the days when I have partners who are really driven to do their part, who take pride in the opportunity they’ve been given to come to Louisiana, all while carrying a positive attitude. One of my site supervisors today said “you get from this work what you put into it.” So thank you to those people who have enhanced my experience — and their own — by working hard and remembering why we’re here.

And while we’re here, let’s listen to some jazz tonight :p

Lori Dagenais

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