Friday, July 1, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

(KILI Radio station and our view from Betty's, a lovely lunch in the open air)

Our last day and once again it is beautiful. For about half of us this is tour day. Because we have a large group, we are divided so only half of us have tour today. The other half toured yesterday and will work today.

I think tour day should be called “Hope Day.” They showed us those organizations and businesses that are working to make life on the reservation a little better for the residents. We visited Red Cloud School, a private school where a quality education is offered to students by the Jesuits of the Roman Catholic Church. We also toured the community and visited KILI Radio Station, a major source of communication for people in remote parts of the reservation. We ate at an open air restaurant that was operated by the great-granddaughter of Black Elk, a wisdom elder of the Lakota people. The food was really tasty and the chocolate cake was wonderful, too. In the afternoon the bus visited Rosie’s trading post where locals can purchase the supplies needed for their crafts and tourists can buy authentic Lakota crafts. The last stop was at Lakota Community College where a photo display and audio recording told the story of the conquering of the native people. It is quite graphic and incredibly sad.

Carolyn was late for dinner tonight because her team got to go with Jerry to deliver bunk beds. She said it was the best day of the trip because they got to go into people’s homes and set up the beds. Re-Member gives mattresses and bedding for their bunk beds, and Carolyn reported some REALLY excited children who would sleep on a real bed for the first time in their lives.

The evening was pizza hut pizza and ice cream sundaes to celebrate our week on the reservation. We got a report on all the work that was accomplished this week. Our teams installed a new roof, skirted 3 trailers, put 2 porches or sets of steps on trailers, repaired a floor, installed an outhouse, constructed and delivered 18 bunk beds to allow 36 people to sleep well. It was a good amount of work that we accomplished! That felt good. We made a difference, and more than that, we learned so much and forged a connection with the people of Pine Ridge. We will never see our world in quite the same way again!

One of the volunteers who was from Dubuque, Iowa spoke to us about putting together a gift for KILI radio station. Some of their equipment is on the last leg and they have gotten bids that put the repairs at $5,000. It was suggested that if we each donate $100 that the radio station can continue to be the life-line link on the reservation. No pledges were taken, but I anticipate that many or most will find a way to donate their $100!

We all filled out evaluations to help them think about how to better serve both the Lakota people and the volunteers who come each week. Lots of promises were made about people coming back and staying in touch.

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