Working on the Habitat for Humanity build site today brought up so many emotions that I wasn’t really expecting to feel on this trip. It’s hard to explain but I’m going to try.
We took a tour of the area most devastated by flooding and it was such a sobering experience. Seeing people’s homes destroyed by toxic flood water, a tally on the front of the home if people were found alive or dead, and so much more. It was heart-wrenching. It was also, in a way, kind of heart-warming. I couldn’t help but think that maybe the people whose homes were lost in the floods were the people who would be living in the house that we are working on building. It’s a long shot but I’m sure stranger things have happened.
Another thing I felt so strongly today were the bonds of sisters. I was working on nailing lips to the tops of what are going to be walls and it was tougher than I thought. I was on the top rung of a ladder, working around a dozen beams, was using muscles I didn’t know I had, and was sweaty. Yet Erin, one of our chaperones, never left. She was holding the ladder steady, giving me advice and encouragement, and told me she wasn’t going to leave until I had nailed that last nail into the beam. When I made mistakes she told me she felt the next nail would be the one to make it through the wood. When I accomplished it, she cheered with me and offered high fives. Erin has only known me for a day and yet she was acting in a way that I would hope my own sisters would treat me. It brings a smile to my face as I type this now, knowing that the bonds of sisterhood cross affiliations, the country, and ages.
I cannot wait to work for another three days with Habitat and witness this house slowly change into a home. I cannot wait to see more of New Orleans and the people who live here. I cannot wait to see where the bonds of sisterhood are going to bring this group.
Jessica Wehby is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University and a member of Alpha Sigma Tau.