So my first blog entry got deleted so this one is going to be shorter than the original.

The first week in New Orleans had been very tough on me. Not only was the work very intense and labour intensive I found myself really missing my family.

After getting to New Orleans on Saturday April.28th I settled in my room with seven other girls. I had a lot of issues finding time to take to myself in order to reflect on the experiences I was having as well as just relaxing on my own. I really needed some alone time to sort through my feelings about the work I was doing. The first work day which was Monday April.30th was beyond intense. We pulled up to a home and saw a hole in the ground. We were working with a organization called Bayou Rebirth and I was under the impression that we would be establishing gardens or planting things in order to add curb appeal to people’s homes, man was I wrong. We had to dig a Rain Garden that was 6 feet deep and 16 feet long, doing this under direct sunlight all day from 8am to 5pm wasn’t fun. I was sweating from places I didn’t know you could sweat from and I had a difficult time soldering through the day. I have a hard time in Canada during the summer and let’s just saw that the weather here in New Orleans is a whole different ballgame. I was a little discouraged with this project because the volunteer coordinator was a little snappy and short with us and the sun was killing me and I thought I would providing assistance to those truly in need, rebuilding homes and assisting residents in reclaiming their communities. I was a little upset that I was digging for the entire day and felt like I got nothing done despite working really hard. I was also upset with the concept that I was digging where a house used to be. The rain garden was being built on something called “the lot next store” down here, this is when the neighbour is asked if they want to buy the empty lot due to the resident who did life there isn’t returning due to Hurricane Katrina. I just felt guilty that I was digging up someone’s previous life.

Tuesday I worked at the New Orleans food co-op which was amazing and I loved every minute of it. I worked with a lovely lady named Tracey and I assisted her in making sandwiches, salads, stocking the store and doing prep for the following day. I loved doing this because everyone who knows me knows I LOVE FOOD NETWORK. So I just to use some of the knowledge gained and shared recipes with Tracey and I felt amazing providing healthy, organic food to those who reside in New Orleans. I loved this job site and would go back every day if I could!

On Wednesday I worked at the Green Project. This organization takes donations of paint and old wood and appliances, then those who need these things can buy them cheaper than a home hardware store. I liked doing this but again I was outside all day and I and the heat aren’t friends. I was hammering nails and pulling them out of wood which wasn’t what I thought I was going to be doing. On Thursday I worked with an organization called United Saints. The day started off good but turned bad real quick. My group had issues with some of the people on site and the comments that were made. After painting the outside of the home I moved over to cleaning up debris. After a little while I stepped on a rusty nail that went through my shoe and into my foot. I had to leave the job site and had to go get a tenis shot. This was difficult for me because I always have my family there to support me should I become sick or hurt and here I had no one from my family to help me. I got my shot and everything worked out.

Overall the last week I had issues with the work I was doing because I was under the impression that I would be assisting those who truly needed it, not digging and removing nails from wood and cleaning up debris. However I am happy to report that I am having a good time this week working with St.Bernard Project which buys homes and fixes them up and sells them to those who need them. Today I measured trim, cut trim and installed it. I feel like I am making a difference this week as opposed to last week. This time spent in Nola has been wonderful and I am meeting some wonderful people and making a lot of new friends.

This is a side note from my mom- When I was little you always used to yell at me for talking to strangers and telling them my name. Here everyone does that and when you walk down the street complete strangers say hello and ask you how you are its amazing! Every day when this happens to me I laugh and think how you used to scold me as a child for doing exactly this!

I miss all my family and friends back home but I am happy to be making a difference and changing lives in Nola!

Thanks for reading

-Amanda   

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