Friday, March 16, 2007


For some reason every time I tell people who ask what I'm going to do for the next week, and I say "gutting houses," I get this mental picture of my hands to the wrists in a cold, slimy dead fish. I've never gutted houses or fish before, but it seems strange to use the same verb for both. Both are dead, technically, but the houses are going to come back, and their people can hopefully come back if they get the support they need.

Granted, I think the timeline I heard for rebuilding New Orleans going at the same rate as present is EIGHT YEARS, but house by house, family by family. And hopefully people doing the work there, volunteers -- next to New Orleanians -- will be doing more than tutoring students or rebuilding physical structures. We will be getting a close-up view of poverty and race in America, the failings of our government, and the failings of the American public for ignoring the situation on the Gulf Coast. And taking everything we see, reflecting on our roles and responsibilities in it all, and sharing the stories and processing when we get home, even if it's hard.

Gutting, ok. But maybe something more like open heart surgery on a patient who's come close to death and wants to live. And surgeons whose lives are tied up with that survival.

Samantha Henningson
Hamline OSLV staff

No comments: