08 February 2006

A Commercial Break

Colin and I honeymooned in New Orleans, so I've always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for that city. Much like the rest of the world, I was deeply saddened to watch the devastation unfold on TV when Hurricane Katrina hit that region. While the property damage is staggering, the human suffering that played out during the first week was sickening. I don't think I will ever forget watching video of people piling into the Superdome, mostly because one journalist incorrectly observed that "people from all walks of life" were piling in there. This couldn't be further from the truth: we were watching the poorest of the poor take what option they had left. I knew at that moment that I had no concept of just how many people struggle to survive on a daily basis - never mind in the wake of a lethal hurricane.

Unlike a lot of tragedies that have unfolded in my short lifetime, Hurricane Katrina's devastation has really stuck with me. I wanted to go down to the region right after the storm, but it was within my last month of work before I made the move to Paris. Taking the time and the money to go was not possible. Now, I find myself toying with the idea of going there after I return to the US in July. I don't know where the money will come from, and I don't know what I'll do if I go. But I'm searching for ways to help and keeping my heart and mind open for the right opportunity to present itself.

In the meantime, I can help spread the word that help is still needed. Here are just two of countless worthy organizations that could use your help, expertise, money, or material donations:

COMMON GROUND

http://www.commongroundrelief.org/how_you_can_help/

So what if you can only afford to send a box of nails? That will help rebuild part of a room in someone's home, so the impact will be there.

HURRICANE HELP FOR SCHOOLS

Additionally, there is a comprehensive list of schools online that need supplies. I challenge each of you to work with friends, family, work colleagues, and so forth to put together helpful kits for just one school on this list:

http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/disasterrelief/schools/index.cfm

So what if you can only send one notebook or one pencil? That gives one more child the material that he or she needs to learn during a time in their lives that they are most receptive to new concepts and ideas. (How many of us wish we had learned a foreign language as a kid, when it would have been easier? Imagine if we felt the same way about basic English or math?)

Sorry for getting on to the soapbox when it's not really the topic of my blog. This has been on my mind a lot lately, so I felt compelled to write about this. If this entry has inspired you to do something, please feel free to share in the comments section.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled "American in France" blog, already in progress...

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