Everyone knows what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, but has anyone heard of D'Iberville Mississippi? No? Not many have. Not even the Red Cross went there. Yet the inhabitants of D'Iberville also had their lives destroyed in Katrina's fury. Allow me to show you some pictures:
This past February, I, my father, my siblings, and some friends, boarded a Peter Pan bus filled with about 50 other people and set out on a 30-hour bus trip down to D'Iberville to spend a week doing relief work. We were told that we'd be staying in a camp called "Volunteer Village," but precious few other details were provided us (or at least me). After an excruciatingly long journey, this was our first sight of Volunteer Village:
All relief projects for D'Iberville are managed from Volunteer Village. Shortly after the hurricane, it became apparent to Miss Irene and the Mayor of D'Iberville that they couldn't simply have volunteers from all over waltzing in, doing whatever work they wanted, and disappearing. The relief effort needed structure and supervision. Volunteer Village was set up to provide the necessary structure to all relief operations.
The Village is set up on a converted baseball field, so facilities are extremely limited. A makeshift kitchen has been set up in the supply shed, an office has moved into the announcer's booth, and the volunteers' tents are lined up on the field itself. As for bathrooms...well...you know how many bathrooms are necessary for one little league field? That is precisely how few bathrooms there are to service the entire camp. Needless to say, lines are often very, very long.
It's a bit embarassing, but I'll show some pictures from when we dragged ourselves off the bus, our 30-hour prison.
More sights of Volunteer Village:
If there's one thing you learn on a trip like this, it's that everything you once thought of as a hardship is nothing when compared to the suffering the residents of D'Iberville have lived with for two years. Little problems like having to wait on line for the bathrooms, meals, showers, and pretty much everything, having to shower in a wooden trailer, and feeling your muscles ache after an eight-hour work day, are nothing more than petty complaints. The camp has a special department for petty complaints:
The Village's daily schedule goes something like this: 7AM wake up, 7:30AM breakfast is set out in the supply shed and everyone lines up, shuffles through the shed, gets what they want, and walks outdoors to eat, 8AM lunch is set out in the shed and everyone lines up for a second time, shuffles through, makes their sack lunch and marks it with their name, places it in the cooler belonging to their group, and boards whatever vehicle will be transporting their group to its work site, 5PM groups return to camp (if you're lucky...sometimes small groups of people would end up working well into the night if projects absolutely had to be finished that day), 6PM dinnertime, 7PM camp meeting, 10PM lights out. (I might be half an hour off with that schedule -- but it's something like that.)
I have no idea why it says "office" on the wall.
Our group was given two major projects: the reconstruction of Miss Melanie Bass' house, and the rebuilding of a local church. Many members of the community actually requested that the church be rebuilt before their homes because they said the church was the heart of their community and they would rather have that back than their own homes. My future posts will contain pictures of each of these projects.
I like this last picture as a benediction:
I don't know who the Presbyterians were who put that sign up, but I love the message: Out of Chaos, Hope.