It’s incredible how time flies! After months of anticipation here we finally are, already five days in! Thus far my journey in New Orleans has bombarded me with an overwhelming amount of information and a number of things to grapple with as well a number of unique and valuable experiences. I have absolutely fallen in love with the city of New Orleans, which is not quite like any other city I have ever come across. I admire everything about the city from the high spirits and resilience of the people, to the strong sense of community you immediately feel upon entering, to the great feel of southern hospitality and culture, to the authenticity and brilliance of the music that resonates throughout the streets and just to the overall feel of the environment.

What has truly captivated me most about this experience so far is the fact that hope is still alive and continues to prevail throughout the area. The people of New Orleans and the many outsiders who have contributed immensely to the city’s restoration efforts have clearly not given up even after six painful long years. The will to move forward and to continue the healing process is simply inspiring and clearly strong despite the various devastations that Hurricane Katrina inflicted upon too many lives. Yet, I still believe that it is a shame and simply disheartening knowing that after so many years, New Orleans and its surrounding areas continue to remain in such a dire need of assistance.

After a recent discussion with Pascal, one of the team leaders, there was something he said in particular that really resonates with me. He mentioned “although it is a privilege to be here, we should not have to be.” There is much truth to this statement. Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done while many families remain displaced from communities and houses they once called home and while many social and political issues are left unaddressed. It is truly baffling how a city that is part of such a powerful nation continues to suffer daily reminders of the tragedy Hurricane Katrina introduced so many years following.

On a happier note, I could not be happier to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people who comprise the team. With all our pooled efforts, we have worked diligently to help make a difference and we continue to support one another as we embark on the remainder of our journey together. This is an exciting time for us all and every drop of sweat, tear shed, ache and scratch or bruise serves as a reminder of the hard work we have been putting into our volunteer projects and has all been well worth the cause! I cannot wait to experience what else is in store for us and what else lies ahead in our journey.

Bye for now,
Nikita Sander