March 30, 2007
Amanda Estok journal entry
About the Trip:
- March 18 to March 25
- Building houses for families who lost their homes from Hurricane Katrina
- 15 people
- The program was $100 per person plus a $15 deposit. We originally signed up a group for 18 people so we owed the affiliate $1800. We were able to fundraise and cover this cost. The additional cost to everyone was the price of transportation, which was $150, and then the price of food.
- Ohio University HFH has always done the Collegiate Challenge. However, they choose a different location each year. Last year they went to Hilton Head.
The students who went on the trip were looking for an alternative way to spend their spring break, aside from the normal beach scene. The personal gain wasn't important to us. In the end, what mattered was what we were able to do for other people. We only wish we could have done more, but the appreciation, thanks and accomplishment we felt while we were down there was enough to make us all want to come back and participate in this program, or a program like this, again.
Many of us returned to Ohio with some newfound skills! We have a group of girls that now knows how to roof a house, a group of students that can side a house with their eyes closed, and a couple of guys that know how to make big holes smaller. I learned how to use a power tool for the first time. Also, we now know what it’s like to work side by side and create something great.
I have realized that there are better ways to spend my money -- I went to Panama City last year and spent too much. I came home feeling as though I had wasted a week away. Coming home after participating in this service trip, I felt my heart was in the right place. There is still such a struggle down south. People have lost all they had, so the least I can do is take the little I have and share it with them. I met amazing people from all over the country, including Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, California and Minnesota. They had such warmth and compassion. You can't meet these kinds of people on a beach drowning themselves in cans of cheap beer.
Southern hospitality is so underrated. Everywhere we went we were recognized and thanked. The people of Louisiana are so gracious and kind. St. Luke’s Catholic Church gave us a free meal at their fish fry to express their gratitude for us and our work. However, as thankful and appreciative as people were, we knew they were still suffering. We traveled down to an area called the '9th ward', which is one of the worst in Louisiana. They haven't been able to start rebuilding it yet, and it looks as though someone took a sledgehammer to the entire city. It is sad to think that after two years, the damage is still just as visible as it was a year ago. We wish we could have done more to help these areas, but we know that the little we provided them was the best gift we could give them.