July 7, 2006

Hurricane relief efforts focus of
Mission Office contests

By Mary Ann Wyand

“They still need help!”

That’s the message of a Hurricane Katrina poster created by Okenna Oruche, who just completed the sixth-grade at Christ the King School in Indianapolis.

It depicts a rescue helicopter hovering over a flooded area along the Gulf Coast last fall, when communities in that area were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August and Hurricane Rita in September.

The poster contest as well as poetry and essay competitions were sponsored for the first time by the archdiocesan Mission Office and Holy Childhood Association as part of its Young Catholics in Mission program. (Full listing of winners)

Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa Demetria Smith, mission educator for the archdiocesan Mission Office, said it was difficult for the judges to select winners in each category because all the student entries were well done.

“We had about 200 entries from 22 schools in all three categories,” Sister Demetria said. “The contest theme was about hurricane relief efforts, and also the effect of the hurricanes on the children, how they felt about it.”

Sister Demetria said she is very happy with the student response to the new contest, and appreciates the fact that many principals and teachers worked this project into the curriculum.

“I was very touched by the way the children reacted [to the storms],” she said. “To me, it shows the depth of young people, how they care about people in need. It’s good for them to be able to express their feelings about it. I was very touched that the children were that concerned. Children are very life-giving.”

Taylor Rhoten, who just completed the fifth-grade at Pope John XXIII School in Madison, wrote in an essay titled “The Devastation of Hurricane Katrina” that, “It’s terrible to think about people still living in the area with all the devastation. In some cases, people still have no running water, no sewage, no electricity [and] some even with no homes at all.”

After the hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast, Taylor explained, it was hard for people to get basic supplies.

Now, Taylor said in the essay, “People and … organizations need to get down there and help rebuild homes that were lost. There is still work to be done getting the sewage system to work again. … They also need sanitary drinking water.”

The hurricanes didn’t just affect the Gulf Coast region, Taylor wrote. “It affected our whole nation. … The most important thing for people in that area now is for peace to be restored to their lives.”

In the poetry division, Collan Henderson, who just completed the third grade at Pope John XXIII School, wrote about the aftermath of the storms and flooding in a poem titled “Hurricane Katrina.”

“Hurricane Katrina bashed.
Some were sad,
And mad.
The wind howled,
And growled.
There was a flood,
And a lot of mud.
When the sky became clear,
Some shed a tear.”
Amelia Voeler, who just completed the fourth grade at St. Mary School in New Albany, titled her poem “Katrina’s Wrath.”
“A baby crying
A mother weeping
I wish I could help them so much.
I have tears running down my cheek.
I don’t know what to say.
I feel like I need to do something.
Even though I am watching it on TV,
It feels like I’m suffering with them.
I need to help them. I know I do.
Please, Lord, help them.
Please, Lord, do.”

Sister Demetria said the drawings, essays and poems are reminders of the continuing need to support the archdiocese’s Mission Office and Catholic Charities fundraising efforts to help people who lost their homes and possessions in the hurricanes last year.

(For more information about ways to help with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast states, contact Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa Demetria Smith at 317-236-1485 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1485.)


Local site Links: