There is something in human nature that drives us to think "hope" even as we feel despair tugging at us from behind. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina began over two weeks ago, and the nation continues to struggle to understand its devastating consequenses. These consequences have taken different shapes, from the physical destruction of property to the deep and troubling issue of enduring inequality in America. But even at this difficult time, the ways people have come together to make a terrible situation just a bit better have inspired us and fanned the tiny flame, that whisper of "hope." This blog, which ends today, has catalogued some of the innovative, brave, and generous ways that people have connected with each other--many other stories remain untold. But as the nation rebuilds, both literally and figuratively, in the wake of this tragedy, the inspiring human drive to hope will continue.
The Shoes Off Her Feet
Beliefnet reader J. Trovato writes in with her experience of how she came to take in an evacuee family. She writes, "We were in financial distress ourselves. But we had a home, a vehicle, two outstanding teen-aged children, and through our extended family members were making it month to month. On Thursday, September 1st, we drove down to the Astrodome area with all that we could pack into our car in hopes of finding a place to donate items that would reach evacuees quickly. We found a group that had organized efforts to collect and disburse items in desperate need. We worked with this group for a few hours, helping to organize and unload others' donations. While we worked, many evacuees were walking the streets, just deposited here from buses from the Superdome in New Orleans. Most had no shoes, were filthy, thirsty, hungry and homeless now.
As we worked our way back to the buses, we parked and watched. Soon, a young girl (20), carrying a 13-month-old baby, and an elderly lady (67) walked past our car toward the Astrodome. My husband got out of the car and approached them. (I stayed inside the car because I had given my shoes to someone earlier). He asked these ladies if they needed help or if they had family here and they both cautiously said, "No." He directed them to me thinking they may be mistrustful of him and I, too told them we were willing to help if we could. The elderly lady jumped in the backseat immediately. The young girl asked me if she could get some help. I said, "Of course, please get in." She did and we brought her and her baby and the elderly lady home with us that night. We had no idea what we were going to do past this one night. Our goal was to give them a shower, a meal, and a place to sleep that night. We immediately saw their cautious relief. There is much more experience with this story. Miss Carrie, Birtukan and Yosef are still with us today. We are learning a lot from one another and what it means to open your heart and your home to people in need."
A group of eight dolphins swept out to sea during Hurricane Katrina stayed together and survived, despite being unprepared to fend for themselves in the wild. So far, two of the dolphins have been rescued by authorities, and efforts are underway to rescue the remaining six. "We are just thrilled that they have stayed together during the past couple of weeks," said Moby Solangi, the owner of Marine Life Oceanarium.
Beliefnet reader Jim has reflected on change of seasons and the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and composed a call to action that he is circulating to his family, friends, and colleagues. It reads, "I suggest that as we now change seasons we look at the clothes we have and ask ourselves, do we really wear everything we own or can some serve a better use? The Time is Now.
I also suggest a quick review of our cabinets, storage areas, garages, attics and food closets might reveal supplies we forgot were there and we really don't need any more. The Time is Now.
We all have our own vehicles of giving, It's just that more than money is needed right now. Money is always the best, but think about what else is needed in addition. The Time is Now.