Thursday, August 26, 2010
Katrina....5 years later
I am sure just saying "Katrina" brings up many uncomfortable emotions if you live in the U.S. With it being the 5 year anniversary there have been different news stories and specials on the incomprehensible tragedy that happened within our own nation. If you are like me it is very uncomfortable to watch and not only because of the devastation but because of our lack of response as a nation.
I remember, along with the rest of the world, watching the images being displayed as a stadium full of victims screamed for a drink of water. And I along with so many others sat at our television sets and wondered why someone wasn't doing something.
A few days into the catastrophe I was to return for my second year of college. On the day of registration I called Rob and said "I think God is telling me I am suppose to go help." His reply astonished me..."I think that is what He is saying too.." Wow!! So I called my advisor and told her that I would see her next semester. There was a whirlwind of trying to get information on how to get to Louisiana and what could I do to help. But honestly the lack of organization was so overwhelming.
I finally found an organization that was waiting to be called and I was allowed to go train with their team. It was a Disaster Relief team through the Southern Baptist Convention. I headed to Rochester Minnesota and sat through 3 long days of training on different areas but the main being the Food Trailer. We were trained in the set up and tear down and all the in between to feed a LARGE amount of people. We also went through long days of training on CPR and other medical things we might need to know. And then we waited...and waited...to be called.
Finally back in Wisconsin, now about 2 weeks after the hurricane I received a call. Let's just say it was not at all what I expected. I was being called to Minnesota...yep... Well, it seems like for some reason there had been large amounts of people who had been making their way up North to stay with family and friends. The problem that had now arisen is that all of these people had been left with nothing. No Drivers License, Social Security Cards, clothes or jobs. These families were now here in the state of Minnesota and needed help.
I headed with a few others to an abandoned office building on the outside of the Twin Cities. It was covered with government people going everywhere. But our favorite was Steve from the Department of Homeland Security, he was great. They set up areas for Social Security, Red Cross, IRS, Legal Aid, DVS and Clothes and food distribution. My area was actually child care. We watched the children for the parents as they stood in lines throughout the day. The organization that I was with also had a trailer that housed a mobile daycare. So, we had a very large area of the building that was set up with everything you need to run a daycare. It was amazing.
I will admit that at first I was a little disappointed. I had envisioned working with adults and hearing stories and helping to encourage them and not just watching kids all day. I had no idea what I was in for. The stories that I have of that week are incredible. At first we kept calling in the medics to check the babies that were sleeping in the cribs because they slept all day. And then we realized that this was probably the first time that they had even been laid down in a bed in 2 weeks. And then if I didn't think I was going to hear stories I wasn't thinking straight. I remember at one point me and a group of about 6 kids from ages 4 - 12 laying on our bellies in a circle just talking. They began talking to each other about the things that they had seen. My first instinct was to get their mind off of it and then I realized that this may be the last time that they have other kids that went through exactly what they did. The stories that they told made my stomach turn and my heart ache. Being in the dome and watching people die in the rows in front of them. One girl and her family were taken off the roof of their home by helicopter. I didn't know what to do for these kids and so for that week I just hugged and played and rocked babies to sleep and prayed.
When it was time to drive back to Wisconsin I remember doing most of it in silence. How do you wrap your head around the experience that you have just shared with these people. Parents walking in to pick up their children breaking down on your shoulder out of pure exhaustion. Wondering where will they go from there....
All those emotions are coming up for me again now. As I look at my photo album at those little faces I wonder where are they now. How is Diondray, Ty Janai, Carter, Jaheim, Malik, Kennedy, Kalyn and the dozens of other innocent children whose lives were turned upside down. Did they get the help they need? I am a big advocate of missions and in fact I am the Vice President of a missions team that works with an orphanage in Jamaica. But as I sit here this morning I have to believe that we as a country do more in the face of natural disasters for other countries than we do for our own. It makes me very uncomfortable to think of why that is but I just know that it really is true. I know there have been countless people and groups that have helped with the devastation that happened there and that is HUGE. But I look at the faces of these kids and I think - they were jipped...So how does that thought change my life? Will I do anything different? I can't even answer that except that I do know that everyone of these kids I will lift up in prayer. God did not place them in my heart for me to desert them.
Today I dream for you to find something to fight for....is there a wrong that you want to see right...in church we call that your Holy Discontent.....what has God placed on your heart that you just can't take...