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18 March 2012 – To Saint George, Seven of Us Go!

17 March 2012 – HALO Departs for Spring Break 2012!


Final Thoughts

Posted By Ramaah S., Mar 23, 2007

One week ago from today, I sat in my living room packing my bags. Now, seven days later, I'm back in California. How can I describe what this trip means to me? I have been struggling to describe the people, the places, the sounds, the food and the smells of New Orleans. Every time that I sit down to write a blog entry, I step away, unable to articulate my surroundings, my thoughts and my feelings.

It's impossible to describe in words my experiences in post-Katrina New Orleans this past week. Some images pop into my head: the atmosphere at Cafe du Monde where waiters and waitresses bustle around small circular tables with trays filled with hot, powdered sugar beginets and cups of milky-rich cafe au lait; the conversation that Gabrielle and I had with an elderly African-American woman who was applying for a Road Home grant to rebuild her home (who used her laughter to hide her pain and sadness over her personal losses); and the daily thirty minute morning walks with Neta, Deborah, Gabrielle, and Alison through the Marigny, the Quarter, and the CDB (Central Business District) from our inn to our legal aid work assignments. Words just don't do it justice.

Returning to NOLA has been an emotional journey for me. I lived in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; in October 2005, just less than two months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, I learned that I had lost almost all of my belongings – clothes, shoes, jewelry, furniture, pots and pans, and little knick-knacks due to mold damage. I came to terms with my own losses. Yet, nineteen months after the levees broke and destroyed parts of the city, people are still struggling to get back to a “normal” life. Most restaurants close at 10 p.m., non-functioning traffic lights sit on the corner of streets curled up, twisted and uprooted from their cement bases (oftentimes, streets lack street signs), and basic essentials – access to education/schools, health care, and food – are absent in many parts of the city. I found myself wondering "How can this be?" and "How can this be happening in America?"

To HALO members: This volunteer trip would not have happened without my fellow HALO members. I want to thank each of your for your dedication to and belief in this trip. From our bake sales to our meetings to plan the trip, your spirit of volunteerism and commitment to public service turned this idea into a reality.