The day began, bright and early, at Haven’s shelter for domestic and sexual violence, and the staff there quickly introduced us to a place that for many people is considered a home or “safe haven”. The education sessions so far have been insightful and piqued the interests of many peers on the trip. A myriad of information was thrown at us about power and control, gender norms, consent, etc., and all of it revealed how sexual assault is not as black and white as many perceive it to be. It’s not simply about explaining to men how to treat women properly, and it’s not simply about showing women how to protect themselves at all times. In a perfect world, everyone would be taught about these issues from a young age and they would learn to foster these ideas on prevention throughout their lives in order to form a safe and sexually aware community. Unfortunately, in the real world, most people are not introduced to these topics until it’s relevant to their lives.
The rest of the day was riddled with tasks helping around the shelter which ranged from cleaning playrooms to sorting resource rooms. However, the most fulfilling part of the day is seeing all the children in the shelter. They all seem so cheerful and bright, despite the situations they’ve been involved in. This also begs the question of what can be done to prevent this from happening. How can we prevent people from having to go through this pain?
The day ended with daily reflections, and today’s session included a documentary called Invisible War. It was frustrating to hear about the many accounts of sexual assault in the army, but it was even more frustrating to know how little help these people receive. My peers were focused on this topic and branched off of it for over an hour. It’s still unclear as to how prevention should truly be implemented especially with the lack of funding and lack of care in public education. All I can say is that I am thankful for Haven’s efforts to try and educate others on topics that are often overlooked, and I simply cannot wait to bring all of it back to share with the community. Stay tuned for more about our adventures at Haven!
Well, we’ve been down south for almost 3 days now and its been great! The seafood is incredible, the people are amazingly friendly, and work is ready to be done! I guess some people have already talked about our day in New Orleans yesterday so I won’t deal on it. Needless to say, it was incredible! Most surprising was the 9th ward, as I’m sure has already been mentioned. Seeing porches without houses is pretty eye-opening; seeing whole empty lots in what used to be a busy neighborhood is sobering. But it is encouraging to see that life goes on and people make do.
However, we learned today first hand that there’s still work to be done…and a lot of it! Me and some of the other ASBers went to Rob’s house with our team leader Brooke. Brooke was so much fun and really knowledgeable! Never a dull moment working with her and the rest of the team! The house we were working in was less than a mile from the shoreline and had been hit pretty bad by the storm and still was in sore need of work. Today we mainly tiled. Luckily, our Home Depot class had prepared us more than we could have imagined! Most of the tiles were already laid but the outside tiles still needed to be measured, cut, motar-ed, placed, etc! (Basically the hard part!) Brooke was thoroughly impressed with our tiling abilities…even though we felt like amateurs! But by the end of the day we were experts, if I may say so! ;) Using the wet saw was definitely the most fun! (Look ma! No hands!…literally!) Chris and I perfected cutting tiles by the end and tomorrow we are ready to grout! Hopefully, we’ll also be able to start dry-walling tomorrow…which means we get to use the sweet nail gun! =D (Most of the team members are scared to let me get my hands on it…something about me being too excited to use it…=P)
Once we got back, we had a great time hanging out with and meeting some of the other volunteers here at CCC (there are about 60 of us here), including several church groups with some great elderly folks, a couple other college groups, and an Americorp group with some awesome kids on it! Tonight Clarence and I taught some of the spades with varying success, but either way it was fun!
Without being too cliche, I will definitely say I was shocked at how much work still needs to be done down in the Gulf Coast considering that Katrina was 4 years ago! There is still debris lying around, abandoned houses; and in New Orleans, there are lots of houses still with the red X’s on them from when the rescue workers first went out searching for survivors. It’s easy to get discouraged, but good to know that even me, as one volunteer, can make a huge difference when combined with the other volunteers all doing their part too. If lots of people as one person do their work..it adds up! The volunteer organizations in Long Beach alone have had 12,000 volunteers go thru since their creation! Anyway, its getting late (considering we gotta be up at 6am!) so I’m off to bed!