Week one and my days has been very busy! Me and 9 other girls started working on a house in St Bernard parish area. The house we are working was once completely under water and as a result the damage was extensive, all that remained were the bricks.

The house was occupied by a grandmother, mother and her sons but we have not met them yet because they have been forced to move to Mississippi and have been waiting six years to return their home.

The last tow days were very hectic as we were wire brushing the inside of the house and we’re still not finished! Wire brushing is important to ensure that we get rid of the mold and as result it is very sensitive, time consuming and tiring work. The air becomes so dusty and hot that we are required to wear a special mask the entire day. By the end of the day we definitely need a shower! After we complete a section of wire brushing, we draw a little heart to indicate that it is complete and then move on to the next section. Now, as most of the mold removal has been done, we can look back and see the that whole house is filled with our little heart shape marks.

The one thing that keeps us all going is knowing how badly Samantha, the home owner, needs her home back. Her son began to feel very depressed ever since the hurricane hit and I hope one day when he feels better he’ll think back and remember all the hard work we did for them and know that he was not alone and there are people in the world who care about him.

Today during lunch we were invited to a woman’s house through SBP, her house had already been rebuilt through the use of volunteers because after the hurricane hit the money she had spent to have it rebuilt was stolen by the contract workers hired to rebuild it (she recently took the case to court and won!).

She made us the most wonderful jambalaya with chicken, and some bread fruit pudding which was amazing! She did this to show her appreciation for all the volunteers. In fact, everyone in New Orleans seems to really appreciate all the volunteers that come here to help. The people here are very kind and super friendly. I have to admit that when I heard a story of how she had to wait almost 9 months before she could even see her house and then another almost 1.5 years before she could move in, and the way she thanked us all just made me cry. I got very emotional. Last night during our check-in Tanya said to us that in a way we are grieving for them and its okay to be emotional. Now I know how very true that is. I have made a wonderful decision to be here, Pascal and Tanya are wonderful, and I think I already have made many friends that will stay with me for a lifetime.

Sara Nemati