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Rethinking Common Sense

posted in: 2010, Gulfport, MS - No Comments

This internship has challenged what I think of “common sense.” Working with grants that have various donor restrictions and constant changes to these restrictions, it’s a wonder that anything actually gets done. You would think that if a person truly has a need, then this person should be helped. But this is not always the case.

Take, for example, a senior citizen who is trying to get a forgivable loan to repair her house. She is a longtime resident of the Gulf Coast and lived through Hurricane Katrina. Her house was severely damaged at the time, but the money she initially received from the government she used to buy proper medication and repaired part of her home, but not all. Now she is trying to complete well-needed repairs and the money is there. She gets qualified into a program with IRD but the donor’s guidelines change midway through and she’s no longer eligible. Since she did not spend all of her initial recovery money on fixing her house, she isn’t eligible. READ MORE

Hope in Unity on the Gulf Coast

posted in: 2010, Gulfport, MS, Washington DC - No Comments

On Wednesday, June 30, I attended the Mississippi Gulf Coast Disaster Recovery Summit at The University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Coast. It was a gathering of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), religious organizations, businesses, and community leaders to tackle the largest ecological and technological disaster this country has ever seen: the oil spill resulting from an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.  Representatives from along the coast came to learn, express their concerns, and collaborate on resources. The South Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SMVOAD) organized the event.

I attended the Summit as a kind of “outsider.” I grew up in the Midwest and don’t try to claim that I understand life on the Coast. The fishing, the ecology, and lifestyle are all foreign to me, and it was difficult to fully grasp the implications of this disaster from afar. Thus, for me the Summit was about education. I learned how people’s lives are tied up in the Gulf and how this technological and ecological disaster is also an emotional disaster. It not only affects people’s jobs but their livelihoods.  This came through in people’s questions for panelists and their sometimes emotional responses. People can rebuild after a hurricane, but this disaster is fundamentally changing life along the Coast. READ MORE

Expectation…

posted in: 2010, Gulfport, MS, Washington DC - No Comments

It’s now been about two weeks since I said bon voyage to six fellow Emory interns as they headed off to exotic, remote places where they can’t drink the water, must pour on the DEET, and wonder what mystery meat they’re having for dinner. Almost by necessity, my life must be a bit more boring than theirs. I’m pretty sure that there won’t be any ox carts blocking the road as I walk to my Metro stop and I’m almost positive that my chilly office is the opposite worry of those in the field.

My scope of work has me stationed in Arlington, Virginia, for a month at IRD’s headquarters and then heading to Gulfport, Mississippi, for a month to work in the field. I have the unique opportunity of seeing what it looks like to backstop a project at HQ and work with it in the field. READ MORE