While most of our time during the day is spent in the Lower Ninth Ward serving at the clinical sites and rebuilding Mrs. H’s home, we’re staying at an old historic bed and breakfast in a beautiful area of New Orleans called the Garden District. It’s located more uptown on higher ground than the Lower Ninth so the aesthetic effects of Katrina aren’t as visible up here. I’ve really enjoyed going running in the mornings, or yesterday in the afternoon, winding up and down the streets lined with beautiful historic homes with big front porches, iron-clad balconies and dim lighting from gas lanterns. Sight-seeing via foot has certainly been a highlight of my time here so far.
Wednesday, I was at the work site for my last day. It was cloudy and damp in the morning, so the 10 of us worked inside, texturing and priming the tall ceilinged walls. Although my neck got tired from straining to paint the ceiling and trim the upper edges of the walls, close quarters in the house with so many people working allowed for awesome conversation and a chance to talk more about individual experiences and perspectives on the concept of “disaster tourism” here in New Orleans. The volunteer coordinator for the organization we’re working with coined that term, as post-Katrina has drawn in tourists to the Lower Ninth Ward in droves (in tour buses, literally!), making the lives of its residents somewhat of a fish bowl. This is the last thing these folks deserve as they try to rebuild their lives almost 5 years after the storm. One of the kind employees at the local Waffle House (where we’re taking bathroom breaks from the work site!) told us that she came back almost a year to the day after Katrina hit because “God knows you can’t leave home.” It has been a very eye-opening and humbling experience to work in this once-thriving neighborhood. I can’t wait to return someday to see its progress 🙂
Today, my teammate Allison and I will be volunteering in the Lower Ninth Ward Health Clinic, a non-profit clinic for residents of the parish. I’m really looking forward to seeing the healthcare side of the spectrum down here while also putting some clinical skills to use! I’m not going to lie, I’m also super glad I’m not putting on my dirty work clothes again as we’re wearing our uniforms and accessorizing with our stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. I’m pretty sure my mud-, paint- and plaster-stained work jeans have bit the dust and will be in a trash bin by the end of the trip.
This evening, 6 of us will be returning to Touro to shadow in the emergency department! The group of us that went last night said it was an incredible experience, with lots of hand-on work and opportunities to see unique cases only found in the inner city. I’m very much looking forward to it as well as our post-Touro social event for the evening – the Rock and Bowl! Countless times this week, locals have mentioned that the Rock and Bowl is something to be experienced, with great live music and dancing (and supposedly bowling – although it doesn’t seemed to be emphasized as much). I’m a huge fan of both of those activities, so regardless of our post-Touro scrub/uniform attire, I anticipate being flung around the dance floor to the tune of Zydeco music (washboards, accordions, guitars, you name it!) until the party ends!
We are taking pictures as we go but I sadly forgot the adaptor equipment needed to transfer the photos from my camera to my computer. Pictures will come as soon as we return to Baltimore though….be on the lookout!