Thursday, January 12, 2006

Could You Please Send Water?

I spoke at some length with Mrs. Belinda Williams of Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Baton Rouge tonight. She has just given birth to her thirteenth child, Malachi.

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:

http://www.shoplet.com/office/db/NLE101243.html

Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church
6175 Scenic Highway
Baton Rouge, LA 70807

10 Comments:

Blogger Chalicechick said...

My Maya Angelou collection is pretty deficient, but I have at least the last three HP books and would be delighted to write said girl, ask what she thought of them and perhaps send more. Shoot your girl with too much free time an email and tell me where to send them.

S

11:11  
Blogger Wally Nut said...

I have sent six cases of water from the link you indicated. I discovered that 5 or less cases and you have to pay $6 shipping, but if you order six cases the shipping is free. It'll cost $51.12 for anyone out there who can do it. I challenge everyone to do so.

11:16  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

You are both awesome. Chalice Chick, if yous send the books to Allen Chapel, c/o Belinda Williams, and include a note saying that they are for the little girl at Renaissance Village, she will know exactly what's going on.

YAY! Wally, I was going to buy ten cases -- so let's definitely get a challenge going.

14:19  
Blogger Wally Nut said...

I have posted an appeal on my blog as well. I encourage all who read this who have their own blogs, to add a post. That way we will reach more people. Let's flood that church with fresh water!

16:49  
Blogger pb2uu said...

Peacebang--was surprise to read the phrase "wheelchair-bound" in your blog. Most people who use wheelchairs are not tied to them! A wheelchair is a vehicle, not a straightjacket. The expression emphasizes disability and powerlessness, and is distasteful to many wheelchair users.

17:52  
Blogger greenseagirl said...

Do you know why it is that they can't get water? Is the plumbing non-functional due to damage, is the well contaminated, is the municipal water processing system doing a really bad job?
Depending on what the problem is, a bunch of filters (combination ceramic and charcoal can remove lead, chlorine byproducts, bacteria, cysts, asbestos, and sediments) might be a better solution than sending bottles. A lot of bottled water has bad stuff in it: bottled water is not regulated as strictly as tap water. According to THE GREEN GUIDE, regulations allow bottled water to contain some contamination by E.coli or fecal coliform and don't require disinfection for Cryptosporidium or Giardia. Consumer Reports tests discovered in August 2000, unhealthy chemicals can migrate from plastic bottles into the water-- especially in heat.
Also, bottled water often IS tap water in plastic (NRDC and Consumer Reports). For example Aquafina, comes from the municipal water supplies of Detroit, Fresno, and other cities. There's also the whole recycling issue.

I am headed into cyberspace to do research on types of bottled water that will not have bad stuff in it, or at least not as much. Will report back and see about gathering other things.

18:37  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

pb, "wheelchair bound" was the phrase Belinda Williams used. I am quoting her.

Meanwhile, how about providing some water?

18:46  
Blogger greenseagirl said...

Research on this topic is seriously difficult-- most of the searches I could think of yielded just article after article about how tap water (filtered if necessary) is safer, healthier, etc. than bottled water. Finally, at Sierra Club, I found, "If you know your municipal water is contaminated, bottled water can provide a safe alternative. But shop around. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) independently tests bottled water and certifies producers that meet FDA regulations and pass unannounced plant, source, and container inspections. And opt for glass bottles-they don't impart the taste and risks of chemical agents and they aren't made from petrochemicals." The NSF allows you to search by brand or manufacturer. Nestle Waters North America, Inc. checks out. That seems (from the label) to be the water supplier for shoplet.com
So, lots of work to find out that what PB suggested is probably the best way of sending bottled water to Louisiana. Now off I go to http://www.shoplet.com/office/db/NLE101243.html
But if you know what the contamination issue(s) is/are, let me know and I'll try to figure out what an appropriate filter would be.

23:02  
Blogger slyypper said...

PeaceBang, how did you make your contact with this AME church? How could others do what you are doing?

10:13  
Blogger slyypper said...

hi, a trackback URL for you regarding this post:

http://tinyurl.com/8xybb

Cheers!

12:57  

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