By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Twenty-one Morinville Community High School students will be heading to New Orleans this March to learn a bit about the history and culture of the region and to offer a lot of help to those affected by Hurricane Katrina which devastated the area in 2005.
During the school’s mission trip students will work hands-on in the humanitarian work still being conducted more than half a decade after the initial devastation. Students will spend several days of the trip working in a soup kitchen and food bank as well as helping to repair damaged residences, assisting the work of the Catholic parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Organizers of the trip say 70 per cent of families in that area lost their homes.
For Grade 9 student Samantha (Sam) Ringuette the opportunity to go to New Orleans is not only an opportunity to help other people; it’s an opportunity to bring some positive change to her life, something she said is a component of the trip’s purpose. “[It’s] to change your attitude and perspective on life,” she said. “Seeing people who are not as fortunate as we are in Canada and who have gone through rough times, and how they cope and how I would cope with the stress.”
Grade 12 student Brennan Fitzgerald said he’d originally been planning on going on the school social trip to Europe but opted for New Orleans instead. “When this came up I liked the idea of not just going for yourself,” he said. “The trip to Europe would definitely be something fun for me. I love history, but something about New Orleans. I’m not a fan of the States and I know they’re still struggling down there.” Fitzgerald said his sister recently returned from a mission trip to Mexico and seemed changed by the experience, more open to helping at home and more involved to that end. “I think it [the mission trip] definitely has the possibility of changing your attitude. Happiness is the currency of the world.”
Although MCHS students have long been involved in spreading a little happiness, helping when and where they can in Morinville, it is believed the trip south of the border will make them stronger advocates for helping at home on their return. But for Fitzgerald there is an understanding of the importance to always remember needs extend beyond local and regional boundaries.
“I find we get so wrapped up in our own lives and our own immediate area that we forget about a bigger picture,” Fitzgerald said. “I think this missions trip is really addressing that fact that there is so much more out there, and there’s so many more people that need help. If we can bring everyone up to a certain standard, then I think the world would be a better place.”
For Ringuette helping away from home involves helping herself broaden her perspective and skillset, tools she is planning to bring back to the community. “We’ll have a different perspective on life and we’ll be able to bring back what we’ve learned helping people,” Ringuette said. “Maybe we can make our programs better and include more of the town than just those who need it – those who are hiding their troubles.”
More funds needed