Belle Chase, Barateria, and Kenner, LA
October 16, 2010
World Food Day
Network Members traveled south to visit with groups that had been affected by the disasters of hurricanes and the BP oil spill. We learned the personal story of a family, the group experience of immigrants in the area, and how fishermen and shrimpers way of life and earning a living were damaged. These personal connections conveyed the emotional hurt, as well as financial and material loss. Our Healing Ceremony on the bayou bank was a prayer for the future, as was the triumphant speech and healing spirit of Shirley Sherrod at our closing session.
Brenda Hymes, referred by Southern Mutual Help, related her personal family story of losing her home during Katrina, then living in a FEMA trailer contaminated by formaldehyde, losing money and spending endless hours dealing with health problems and the bureaucracy for obtaining compensation, which has not provided adequate help to date.
Bill Chandler, Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) (center) with Jorge Botello (l) and Mily Treviño-Sauceda (r), explained to the group the special problems faced by immigrants in the Gulf area.
Fisherman Mike Roberts reading his emotional statement about the devastating loss of a way of life that threatened the region because of the oil spill. He and his wife work with the Louisiana Bayou keeper, concerned with keeping the waters fresh and uncontaminated. This gathering took place at the home of Captain Mike Hymel, also a fisherman, whose boat was destroyed in Katrina. Others present included Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association.
Native American members of the RDLN Network led the group to a Healing Ceremony on the water where three bayous meet. Foreground, l to r, Issa Nichols, Twila Martin-Kekahbah, Geri Hewankorn, Nancy Gaynor and Monica Caye. Background Meredith McGee and Ben Yahola.
RDLN Chairman Moises Loza introduced Shirley Sherrod, our closing speaker. Shirley is an RDLN graduate and former Board vice chair. She has contributed much to RDLN through her example, service and accomplishment.