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Hurricane Relief Project

 

Fishbowl Youth has taken young people on exchanges all over Europe and sent members to projects in Asia, South America and Africa. Around two years ago we thought we would like to do something with a whole group in another continent – we picked America. We wanted to do something useful there. After looking into some projects we found Lagniappe Presbyterian Church Group in Bay Saint Louis in Mississippi. Lagniappe puts up and feeds groups who go to Mississippi to help with their hurricane relief projects.

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We worked towards the project for ten months leading. The group was formed, including three volunteers from outside of Fishbowl and we set about fundraising. Our goal was 10,000 Euros. To raise our money we did a range of fundraisers, from busking on the street to selling ourselves as slaves to music nights and barbeques.

We flew out in smaller groups of four or five people and all met up in Saratoga in upstate New York in late July. There we spent a week with the extended family of one of the Fishbowl leaders and here we were approached by the major who was curious about our project. We also had an interview with the local newspaper who put us on the front page.
We spent a morning baking bread with the local Rabbi, but most important we took this time to adjust to the incredible heat.

On the 28th of July we flew to New Orleans and travelled on to Bay Saint Lewis. We settled into our bunkhouses and met the interns and other volunteers. Everybody was thrilled to have a group all the way from Ireland there, especially because they all claim Irish ancestry of some sort themselves. We were the first non American group to help them!
The next morning we started work. The heat was incredible, but we were surprised to find that we just got on with working and adjusted to being covered in sweat, bug-spray and sun-cream all the time. Our workers were split into three groups: six were working on putting up the frame of a house, four were dry-walling an almost completed house and six were sanding and painting. We worked there for two weeks. The work was hard, but we really felt like we were doing something worthwhile and the people were great.
We found some relief from the heat one evening when a friendly local offered us his pool for a couple of hours. The local Irish cafe, run by a Derry man, insisted that we go there twice during our stay to sing Irish songs – luckily we had a bit of talent in the group. By the end of the two weeks we were really ready to be finished. We headed to New Orleans where some of the group headed off that evening. Our trip was over, but we’ll never forget those two weeks, those people or the village of Bay Saint Louis.


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