It’s been one week since we arrived in NOLA and everything has completely surpassed my expectations. The main thing I noticed when I arrived was the incredible sense of southern hospitality. It’s amazing to me that a community that has been through so much and continues to struggle is able to welcome outsiders and treat them like family. I guess that is part of the magic of this place. By simply going out into the streets, you can feel the passion and spirit of everyone. I have realized that these people are fighters, and I am so glad that I am able to provide even the smallest amount of help towards rebuilding this incredible place.

When we arrived in NOLA, Tanya took us on a tour of the community. Hearing about the destruction is much different than seeing it. I was shocked at how many empty lots there are and how many homes look inhabited but are actually gutted on the inside. It pains me to see that what was once a vibrant community now looks almost deserted. It is upsetting that the people who have finally been able to come home are not returning to the same place they knew before. They may no longer have a neighbor, or even a house next to them. Despite this, it is so inspiring to see that so many people are doing whatever they can to rebuild their homes and build up this community again.

This week, I have worked with the St. Bernard Animal Shelter, the Green Project, and have helped to work on Miss Rebecca’s house. I’m so grateful for the chance to work with these amazing organizations, because their efforts truly contribute to the strength of this community. Although I have not worked with the St. Bernard Project yet, I can see that the efforts of volunteers and passionate community members are so important to the rebuilding process. Working on Miss Rebecca’s house allowed me to get a glimpse of what the residents are going through every day. There is so much work to be done on the houses, and I cannot imagine how much of a struggle it is for the homeowners to do this on their own. Even though the work we are doing may seem insignificant, it makes such a difference because it would take the homeowners so much longer to do what we are doing.

I’m so proud to be here with such an amazing group. Everyone is so passionate and we are all connecting with each other so well. I can’t wait for next week to go to Alabama and then to work with the St. Bernard Project, but I’m so sad that this experience is halfway done!

Until next time,

Paulina Kubara