New Orleans, LA – It is the end of our third day in New Orleans, and what a full day it was! We started off the day with breakfast and morning prayer with the Sisters of Charity who are graciously sharing their home with us. The sense of community in this beautiful home is so welcoming and warm, you cannot help but feel at peace and welcome. After packing our lunches for the day and filling up our water bottles, we headed out to our work site that we started working on yesterday. We started the day a little late on the way out of the house but arrived at the house ready to work. After finishing the insulation in at our work site home the day before, today was filled by putting up drywall.
We had been warned the day before about the troubles in installing dry wall and how difficult it would be, but I don’t think anyone could have prepared us for what the day held. Our awesome project leaders Scott, Hailey, and Erin from the organization we are working with, Saint Bernard Project, showed us how to measure, cut, and install the dry wall and then handed the reins off to us. We split into two groups and tackled the task of dry walling the ceiling of the house. As we started to install the drywall we soon realized how, as project leader Hailey said, “soul-sucking” putting up dry wall is. There were numerous times where the measurements and cuts we made were only slightly off. This meant we would have to attempt to put up the dry wall and then would realize that it did not fit. We would have to take the dry wall down measure and cut again then put it back it. Eventually the dry wall went up and it felt like such an accomplishment! We will continue to dry wall the ceiling and walls throughout the week while also using muscles in our arms that we never knew existed!
After the long day of putting up drywall, we finally went back to the House of Charity to the smell to tacos for dinner. After a quick dinner full of lively conversations about everything from driving in the city to cats. In the short amount of time here, the Sisters of Charity have reiterated the unfortunate problems of racism, violence, and murder in the city of New Orleans. One of the ways people try and help get rid of this problem are Peace Walks. Tonight, we had the opportunity to participate in said peace walk.
The Peace Walks started in 2014 as almost a peaceful protest against all the violence, murder, and racism. Each walk is hosted at different parishes throughout the city and are about a total of eight blocks. Tonight, the sisters had offered to host a walk. While waiting for the walk to start, people kept showing up, personally surprising us, especially because most of the people who showed up were high schoolers who wanted to be there. During the walk, we sang songs of hope and happiness, such as “This Little Light of Mine” and “Lean on Me.” We stopped about five times, and at each stop we said a prayer for the specific event that happened in that area. It was a very humbling experience. Afterwards, we went back to the house, and shared our reflections of the day, which was full of laughter, and then played card games until bedtime.
– Becca Padgett & Emilie Steingraeber