Could You Please Send Water?
Belinda is as busy as ever, going every day to Rennaisance Village, a trailer park of 725 units set up right on top of each other and occupied by 2,122 people, a third of whom are children (and of that third, 235 of them are babies under the age of two).
She says that the psychological damage done by the hurricanes is becoming more and more apparent, with depression and despair rampant.
And yet she forges ahead, planning a summer program for teens to learn about fiscal responsibility, as well as a six-week program for single mothers, who drop their children off at no charge at the church at 7:30 a.m. and are free to seek a job until 4:30 p.m.
Last year, Belinda offered this program and 48 women participated. Out of that number, 39 of them obtained jobs and three began school programs (which they are all still enrolled in). I call that success. When I consider that Belinda and two of her daughters took care of over 70 children by themselves all day, I call that miraculous. Twenty-eight babies and 42 children between the ages of 9 and 17. I think to myself, "isn't it illegal to supervise that many children with so few adults?"
And then I remember, oh, this is Louisiana. Those mothers undoubtedly think of Belinda Williams as a saint. Who else is going to watch their kids and give them this chance?
If you have a week or two to devote to babysitting this summer (the program starts in mid-June), let me know. I can hook you up with great local hospitality in B.R. It will be hot, but it will be a very worthy way to spend your day. I'm sure that older teens would be very welcome.
This is what they really, really need at Allen Chapel (which is a major distribution center for the trailer parks):
Baby goods (they distributed 600 bottles the other day, and they can't get enough diapers and formula)
Medical supplies for the elderly (adult diapers, colostomy bags, diabetic supplies)
Water. Bottles of water. They can't get it, Belinda emphasized to me that it's a terrible, constant, pressing need. Can you believe that? I can hardly believe that. WATER? In the United States of America? This boggles my mind. Isn't there a better way to do this than to send thousands of plastic bottles south?
There is a 13 year old, wheelchair-bound girl who is hankering for Harry Potter books and Maya Angelou books (and any others, 'cause she loves to read). If you'd like to get them to her, please let me know or I'll do it when I get back from vacation.
Meanwhile, send water. I'm sure you can buy it online and have it shipped:
Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church
6175 Scenic Highway
Baton Rouge, LA 70807