The hardest part of the trip is here, and while everyone is expressing excitement to be going home.. I am really going to miss this place. For the past 2 weeks I have called this place home, and these people family. Right now I am finding it hard to breathe, I have chills running up my spine as I type…

I am trying to find words to describe how I am feeling, but I don’t think these words exist… New Orleans has captivated me, it caught me off guard. I feel as though I am becoming apart of this community, a community that despite receiving nothing in a time of need constantly gives back. I have been volunteering in various organizations here over the last 2 weeks and I feel like I have received as much as I gave… What I mean is, people are constantly expressing their gratitude to volunteers whether it be through words, food, or small gestures like a hug- resulting in a painted silhouette on the homeowner.

This experience has been life changing, it truly has. I realize that social inequalities exist probably everywhere, and it is a devastation that it took Katrina to bring people to recognize such things. I spoke last time about the congestion in my head, its still there. But I think I appreciate it more now. I am thankful for what I have learned on this trip.

I have a duty after I leave New Orleans, and that is to share my knowledge- educate others about the circumstances surrounding Katrina. Today, our last day in New Orleans, we went to a house welcoming party. I must say, even though I hadn’t personally worked on this person’s house, I felt a sense of accomplishment. The St Bernard Project and those homeowners and neighbours who attended the party made me feel so welcome. Perhaps a last justification to the theme of unity that I’ve observed…

I want people to know that despite the lack of coverage of Katrina in the media, its devastation still exists- perhaps it always will. I have driven past occupied homes and unoccupied homes, rebuilt homes and destroyed homes, vacant lots and lots with only a foundation- can I say I’ve seen it all? Probably not, but it hurts all the same.

Our last check-in, it just took place. I must say it didn’t feel so good. As much as I wanted to share with everyone my experience of New Orleans, it hurt too much to say goodbye. I left many marks of my presence here in New Orleans whether that be signing the framing of people’s homes, the walls at the Green Project, or the shirts of Pascal and Tanya; New Orleans left a bigger mark in me…

Instead of goodbye, I’ll say until next time (because I do want to come back, I miss the parish already).

Also to the person replacing me in my bottom bunk, I left you a housewarming gift.

Peace and Love,

Sarah Clarke

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