Dun Dun Dun…

We were told what our first project is going to be the other day! I had to wait so long for that moment and to finally know what I was going to be doing for eight weeks. It was definitely something I was never expecting…
We are cooking for all the volunteers who are staying at Camp Hope in St. Bernards Parrish (New Orleans, basically). So that’s about 500 people max a day to cook for. P.S. I don’t cook. For those who have never heard of Camp Hope, it is a “camp” that has existed since right after Katrina hit. So volunteers from all over will be staying there, expecting us to cook them wonderful food.
I’ll be honest, when I first heard, I was shocked. I was expecting to be working on top of roofs and building a house. This was the last thing I would ever think of. I know that this is going to be a lot of hard work, not being able to cook will be the least of our problems. If you think about it, though, 500 people wouldn’t be able to go out and do the hard work, such as building houses, without us. Plus, food always makes people happy. :0)
I can’t wait to talk about our fun adventures, including the five day road trip down there.

Getting Things Done

ILB

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Make A Difference Day

I apologize for not writing sooner – I actually had posted last weekend and it somehow got deleted. So I figured I could type it up again.
I have been assigned to my team that I will be with for the rest of my time with Americorps. I am really pumped to have all these people on my team. We seem to energize each other and have great times together. We played laser tag the other night against another Americorps team. Let’s just say we were ridiculous. We had a theme song, we were doing push ups as the other team walked up to the entrance, and we were all covered in black. We were intimidating, to say the least. Yes, we won.

Last Saturday, the 27th, was Make A Difference Day all across the country. People from all over came together and volunteered for a project and, of course, made a difference.
Fortunately, I was able to do the same. All of the Americorps teams found a project in the area to give a helping hand.
My team (Green 2) was assigned to an organization called Soil Born. It is an organization based on farmland that grows food for the community, gives people an opportunity to work, and provides green space for downtown Sacramento. We painted corals and chicken coops, planted garlic, and moved trash. There were three other teams with us, and with all the work combined we had estimated moving tons, literally, of trash, wood, and other miscellanous objects that do not belong in a field where food will be grown. It was great to get out there and do what I came here to do. Our team is going to move mountains this year.
:0) ILB

Leaving On a Jetplane

So I thought I could make use of my blog while I’m in California. Oh yeah, that’s right. I haven’t written on this thing in ages. You have probably no idea what I’m talking about, do you?

I decided to work with Americorps for ten months and move to California. I leave on Wednesday for this adventure that I’m sure is going to change my life (for the better, at least that’s what I’m shooting for).

The first month starts out as a sort of “boot camp”. We wake up at 5:30 am and have physical training for an hour everyday. Then we go until 9:00 pm every night. That is what the itinerary they gave me says at least. After a month of training of who knows what, we travel by van to a site (which they call “spikes”) and do service work there for 4-6 weeks. No, I have no idea where I’m going; all I know is that it could take 1-5 days to get there by van. Woo hoo. They basically pay for everything, give me about the same amount of money that I would recieve for allowance when I was younger, and we build houses, work with communities, etc., for ten months.

I’m pumped. Very pumped. And I’m scared, nervous, and biting my fingernails every five minutes. I know that I have a huge passion for helping people, and this is what I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. I’m not worried about being fullfilled through this experience. I know I will be. But I also know that I will be completely homesick from time to time. Come on, who doesn’t miss mom’s home-cooked meals and her hugs? And the random phone calls from best friends?

So hopefully this blog can help me keep in contact with everyone that I’m leaving in the mitten state and this is a much quicker way to shoot EVERYONE an email instead of writing hundreds a day. I would love replies and for you to keep in contact with me while I’m away. It would make my day to get random messages from familiar, great people. :0)

Wish me luck!!

Erin

ILB

Just another reminder

I’ve fallen in love with YouTube…not sure if that’s a good/bad love.  But this video is just another reminder that we’re pretty damn lucky to live under a roof. Or have anything else for that matter.

Bob Dylan

Oh, Mr. Bob Dylan. Blowin in the Wind was a song about Vietnam, but I feel that we could still relate to it today. Plus, it’s good music. And music somehow can say things in ways that only words can’t.

When The Levees Broke

I am quite surprised to find that I have not yet talked about the issue I am about to talk about in this entry – Hurricane Katrina.  For the past two winter breaks, I have gone down south to help rebuild for hurricane victims, each one being a humbling experience.  In December of 2005, just months after the hurricane hit, I went with a group down to New Orleans to help clean up an area near Tulane University.  This past December, I went with a group down to Mobile, Alabama to help rebuild for victims living in Bayou la Batre. Even a year and a half later, many people are still living in the same homes they did before the hurricane. Let’s just say the living conditions aren’t the greatest. The group I was a part of worked on a house that had mold, and a lack of floors, really. I will never forget the first image that I captured in my head of the condition of that house. 

Spike Lee decided to make a documentary on the situation in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. When the Levees Broke is a series of interviews and pictures of people and the experiences they went through.  One man talks about how he had to watch his mother die, leave her on the street, and find her in the same place a couple days later. Make sure to watch all three/four hours of it, and also listen to the commentary from Spike Lee.  I’ll admit, even photos don’t do it justice.

There Is No Me Without You

 woman and child

I just picked up this book at work today called “There Is No Me Without You” by Melissa Fay Greene. Sounds like a trashy romance novel, doesn’t it? It’s actually the opposite, however. This woman wrote a memoir about Ethiopia’s children and people living with the HIV/AIDS virus. I just got through the first chapter and was pissed.

Greene informed me that 81% of the country’s people live on less than $2 a day. (I’ve already spent that much, and it’s not even noon. ) What’s worse, only $2 per person per YEAR is spent on health care by the government. The funny thing is, in 1998 during a war, the government spent $2 million dollars a day. In 2000, Ethiopia’s defense budget exceeded $800 million.

This sounds familiar. Not that the United States is at this extremity, but I feel like our priorities are in the wrong place as is Ethiopia’s. Even though we are considered the most powerful nation on earth, there is definitely room for improvement. And just because Ethiopia is one of the most poverty-stricken countries does not mean we shouldn’t look at their situation and reconsider ours. Unfortunately, Ethiopia will probably never be a Utopia.

Malaria, No More

I found a blog the other day that mentioned a Time magazine news article called “The $10 Solution”. On the website, Malaria No More, one can donate a $10 dollar bed net to help prevent someone from catching Malaria. Every 30 seconds an African child dies of the disease.  I may not be a math genius, but that adds up to 2,880 children a day, and around 1 million per YEAR.  Oh my.  The simplest way of prevention is having a bed net.  That’s it.  Please, PRETTY PLEASE, check out the website, think about it (I’ll give you 10 seconds), donate 10 buckaroos, and save a kid’s life.  How cool is that?  You can say you saved a life today, because you did.

Lions, Tigers…and Elephants?

This blog is written by a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, Africa (thanks, James). It’s pretty interesting to see the type of work he has been doing. Also, with a good possibility of being in the same continent by June, I can get an idea of what kind of mud hut I want to live in. kidding. I don’t get to choose…

I Have a Dream

bilde.jpg

This photograph won the Pulitzer prize in 1976 and is one of my new favorites. :0)

We all have dreams, things in life we want to accomplish or see accomplished. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream to change this country’s view of violence and segregation. His dedication and perseverance aided him in becoming one of the greatest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
Since the 1960’s, this country has come a long way; however, we still have so much farther to go. Racism still exists and it is apparent in schools, living situations, and career opportunities for minorities. Schools, even cities, are still segregated, and proposals are being made to reverse the effort to reduce this evil.
Washington D.C., our own nation’s capital, is extremely segregated. On the outskirts of the city, there is a community of higher class living, where almost all of the residents are of no minority status. On the other side of the city, however, are the slums. Here you can see the capital building while sitting on a porch of a run down “house”.
Racism is not over and I may not even see it end in my lifetime. Today we honor MLK for his accomplishments, but today should also be a reminder for how far we still have to go. I hope one day his dream, as well as mine, will be seen.

This brings me to a conversation I had the other day with someone. During the time of the Civil Rights movement, people such as James Merideth would set off to walk 220 miles to show their passion for an issue, knowing very well that life was at risk. Where is that kind of passion now?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” MLK

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