Thursday, November 24, 2005

Operation Safe Place Accomplished

The Dream Team (most of it anyway)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here's a little blurb I wrote on my trip to Waveland, Mississippi.

There is no reminder of how much we are at the mercy of our surroundings quite as profound as the site of a disaster like Katrina. And there is no example of purity and innocence quite as vivid as a child. And that innocence served as a sign of hope — for recovery and renewal. During this trip I was able to stand right on the coast of the gulf, where the grace of God manifest in a rising sun over peaceful waters stood juxtaposed against the wake of destruction on shore — collapsed houses, clothing strewn about, boats floating in trees instead of water.

You want these people to watch your kids?

The children I was able to spend time with did not seem too affected by the disaster and were just happy to be kids. It would have been interesting to know how much each of them lost exactly but that was not our role there and I was glad to be able to bring them a sense of normalcy as their parents sought aid from FEMA. I know there were other groups that did hear from the kids about things like having to dig through rooftops to survive.

Hotel Morrell

Aside from the kids there was also the muggy heat of the day and frigid cold nights to deal with — the first two days were quite warm but then a cold snap hit and we ended off the trip with at-freezing temperatures at night. Waking up at 5:30am, working with the kids until 6pm, having to share the mens' bathroom with the women for a day or so, fighting off mosquitoes, was all part of the adventure. I wasn't really prepared for an entire week without laundry facilities either, which made for some creative wardrobe rotation.

So Spoiled!

The most rewarding part was spending time with people, both those on the trip and also others who had come to Waveland just to help out. Some were there just to give massages to the other volunteers. Many were there serving food — several from our group helped too. It stirred faith in mankind to see so many people sacrifice so much just to be a small part of the enormous task of healing a part of our country and nation.

Some of the devastation

Song devotionals, late night Sonic run, Pete being More than a Woman, never-ending pork and dance parties at the Wavy Gravy, terrible "Texas" accents, ultimate frisbee, sleeping bags full of Repel, Wild West, endless Matis Yahoo, the peanut gallery, Team Weenies! Thank you, everyone; this trip has been a wonderful adventure and full of great memories!

More devastation

Check out more pictures at Shutterfly. Unfortunately I only have photos from about the first third of the trip; my battery ran out as Crystal M. got a bit snap-happy. Thanks everyone: Erwin, Tracy, Charlene, Adam, Bryce, Sam, Jesse, Yolanda, Georgiana, Erika, Crystal M., Crystal Z., Natalie, Nereida, Lan, Janie, Pete, Faith, and Priscilla!

Time to Reflect at the Gulf

Watch this space for more photo links. Also stay tuned for a video, coming soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

HOPE Operation Safe Place

As all of you know Hurricane Katrina and subsequent similarly devastating events have brought the frailty of human existence to the forefront of our minds. I will be traveling to Houston, Texas, and eventually Mississippi, from the 11th to the 19th of this month volunteering with two joint programs called Operation Safe Place and Project Kid. There I will spending time with a team of 19 others from San Diego, meeting the needs of affected children.

A lot of the details are somewhat sketchy as things coming together within a very short amount of time, but from what I understand we will have a specific curriculum to teach to the kids. We will be staying at housing specific to the volunteers in Waveland, Mississippi and probably travel every day to where the kids are to spend time with them.

<DivX Specific>
Somewhat akin to our own Project Backpack, we also have received a number of backpacks from UCSD that we will be distributing appropriately.
</DivX Specific>

The web site detailing the original program is The specifics with traveling to Mississippi are a very recent development.

If you are interested in contributing to this event please let me know; HOPE Worldwide is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Wish me luck!