Today was our last day of service with Habitat for Humanity. It has been an amazing and eye opening experience. Our group has become very cohesive within the NOLA community, and it has given us a glimpse of the community within NOLA. We spent the early portion of today touring around some Habitat houses that are currently being built and the Musicians Village. It is very evident that community extends beyond the houses we see, including those that are rebuilt, being restored and still in shambles. This is because the whole educational centre is built and supported financially by monies from sources outside the community. Other people with an appreciation for music are helping build a community within New Orleans. Another unique aspect is that this community was created around a love for music. Music was the central cultural component that bonded so many people together and created this bond and wholesome community feel. The people’s love for music, for the city, and for each other are what give this city its special feel. Elements like these are what make NOLA such a strong, cohesive community, and it is an incredible thing to be a part of. In touring around the houses and seeing how community involvement through the internal NOLA community members and external community, like individual groups such as ourselves, and other organizations can come together to not only build houses but to instill hope.
Another aspect of our day was finding a stray puppy that we lovingly called BooBoo. It wasn’t just irony that brought Boo Boo to the Building Communities group this afternoon. Through the tiredness and the rain, we were lucky enough to be greeted by a new member of our group. BooBoo was a symbolic interpretation of our ability to come together in our new community and support each other through a decision to take BooBoo to the SPCA. As well, we became acutely aware that the concept of community also includes pets. Social issues and disasters can not only displace people, it can also displace animals. We see that there are organizations present that can help (such as the SPCA), but that the factors relating to poverty are ever perpetuated in the community and effect all walks of life.
Our experiences have shown us that the issues faced by the NOLA population may not have stemmed purely from Katrina. It is important for us to look past the surface. Our observations about the strong community were likely present prior to Hurricane and have possibly been strengthened as a result of it. In addition, it is evident to us that many of the issues we have seen surrounding social injustices with respect to poorer communities and populations in NOLA were present before and are still present. It is also evident that hope and cohesivity are what keep the communities going.
All together, we hope that we have give a bit of light and a bit of hope to the houses and communities that we worked on with Habitat for Humanity over the last week.