Hi there everyone! This is Rachel!
We apologize for the blog silence the past few days. The YMCA we have been staying at has been having issues with their Internet connection!
We hhave spent the past few days volunteering and exploring the city. At GMHC we have been helping send out promotional materials for teams that have signed up for AIDS Walk New York/New Jersey. This includes putting team numbers on promotional cards and making posters and such. We have also had the opportunity to serve lunch to clients at GMHC. This also gave us the chance to eat lunch with them and talk with them. It struck some of us how normal the conversations were. Just chatting about weather, or places to eat. Their diagnosis doesn’t define them and they don’t let it. Yesterday we also helped to put together safer sex kits, which the organization gives out for free to clients, schools, churches, etc.
As far as city exploration, we have been lucky enough to visit so many sites around the city. We have seen the Jewish history museum, some went to Good Morning America, toured churches, visited Chinatown and Little Italy. It’s all blurring by so fast! Yesterday we walked on the High line, which is a former rail road that was converted to walking trails.
I believe I can speak for the group in saying that we have really learned that HIV truly has no “type”. It can affect anyone of any age, any race, any background. It isn’t always people who have engaged in what could be considered “risky behaviors”. Having the opportunity to listen to the stories of these people has been an incredible learning opportunity. These people are just like anyone and everyone else.
Today is our last day at GMHC and we are going to Broadway tonight!
Hi my name is Erica, a sophomore here at Oshkosh where I am a Kinesiology major and a Psychology minor. I am also on the Cross Country and Track & Field teams here at school. So far, my favorite part of the trip was the time we spent working at the Jefferson Parish animal shelter; especially playing with the puppies.
Our names are Brooke and Samantha. We are both juniors who have been roommates for the past few years. Brooke is a nursing major and I (Samantha) is an accounting and finance major. We have absolutely been enjoying our time in New Orleans. Our favorite part of this trip so far was clearing trees and brush at the Audobon Nature Center on Monday.
Today , well today was interesting. Some of us were on our way to Catahoula Bay to plant trees in a marshy area. The drive was and hour and a half and about an hour in it started to downpour. We stopped at a gas station to fill up and decided to wait out the storm. After another hour and a half of thunder and lightening we decided to call it and head back to common ground. We were extremely disappointed that we were not able to get to go into the swamp but obviously we did not want to risk our safety, especially since our boat was made of metal. The ones that stayed behind helped out around common ground. They also went to a mans house to help plant trees, which was tiring especially in the rain.
Tomorrow we have a free day and we are going on our bayou tour and get to go to the zoo!!!!
Yesterday we woke up ready and eager to start day two of construction. We were super sore but it felt good to know that we are making a difference! A few of us got up and had a yoga session to get our joints moving again and it was a great way to start off the day. The ladies cooked us breakfast again and they made us pinapple pancakes. I have never seen pinapple put in pancakes before but now no pancake will ever be the same. It was muy sabrosa, or delicious! After breakfast we were met by our crew from yesterday, Timoteo, Miguel and Eduardo and left for the construction sites. We didnt completely finish our patio yesterday so four of us went with Miguel to finish that, while the rest of the group followed Timotao to the new location. We worked on building the patio until about 1:00pm until we went to lunch at a farmer’s house.At lunch you could tell that we were all getting pretty tired, but we came together and pep talked ourselves back up. What really motivated me to keep going was knowing that before we even began this morning, Timotao was picking coffee for a few hours prior to construction. These people work so hard for so many hours,but are still so completely happy about it. After lunch, our group of four re-joined the others at the new site, which was building a wall. At the new location there were two coffee patios that were old and broken basketball courts. There was a large crack in between the two where the wall was being assembled. This made us feel really good about the patio we built yesterday because we saw what they had to use instead of a coffee patio and it was not a good set up. Building the wall consisted of lots more teamwork. We had to mix more concrete, carry cinder blocks, and measure and stack the blocks too. Karissa was put on machete duty and got to cut the blocks with the machete. It was hilarious to watch. This station really tested our working together skills but it was tons of fun. We worked hard all the way until 5:00pm when we were done for the day. We said our goodbyes to Timotao, who stayed to keep working. We will all really miss him, he is the man. After two days of hard construction, I dont think we could have been more tired. Which makes me feel even worse, because these guys do this every day. We were sunburned and sore but we knew that meant we worked hard. We ran home to shower quickly before dinner with another family. Dinner is always at 6pm but today it was approaching 6:30 and no one had come to get us yet. Just then, the pizza delivery guy pulled up and we were told that we had a surprise movie and pizza night. This was SUCH good news because we were really dragging at this point. Some of us ran to the tienda and got some chips and soda and the movie night began. We hooked up a projector and watched a movie before crashing at about 9pm. Nicole had one more surprise for us, she had secretly contacted our friends and loved ones and they had all written us notes. It was the best surprise ever and I don’t think any of us have ever smiled that much. Many thanks to all of you who sent us some encouragement. It was a much needed piece of home!
Today we are off to work with some artisans. There is a group doing wood working, one with iron work and one with textiles. We just had some fantastic breakfast of eggs, beans and salsa and are now preparing to leave. We also have a market scavenger hunt in the afternoon and some time to shop.
Hasta luego mis amigos!
Our mangos from the other day
Ann and Timotao and I
Our finished coffee patio!
We got to put our hand prints and initials in the cement!