It’s Wednesday and we’ve finally begun to get into a rhythm here in Beards Fork. After a half week of beyond cold weather and cancelled classes everyone has managed to settle in and get down to work. Our day started with a delicious French toast buffet prepared by Baheejah, Shannon P., and Jennifer. Future teams will have to step up their game in terms of early AM deliciousness. Liz got the morning officially started with John Denver’s “Country Road” as the message of the day. An excellent choice if you ask me. Today was the first day we split up job site locations. A majority of our group worked at Oak hill school doing various projects, including, health histories and physical assessments, laying subflooring, drilling concrete, and installing insulation (Bob becoming the go to guy when it comes to fiberglass insulation installation.) Jamie, Jessie, Shannon B., and Jennifer spent the day at New River/ Scarbro medical clinic and Black Lung Clinic doing physical assessments and working with former miners in pulmonary rehab sessions. By 4:30 PM everyone was back in Beards Fork thoroughly exhausted and ready to rest while Jamie, Baheejah, and Jennifer prepared tasty meal of enchiladas, yellow rice and beans, and an exquisite flan (thank you Jamie! Goal 3 for the trip has been checked off!) As the night comes to an end the CCP nursing students are prepping a teaching project for the 4th graders about drugs and alcohol which is a problem here in WV. The day is over and one by one team 85 is retiring to their bunks, but ready to start again in the morning.
Appalachia: Named after a native Indian tribe that was mistaken then as you are mistaken now.
Known for everything from your moon shining to your clan fending and serving babies mountain dew. Called everything from hillbilly to redneck accused you of being backward “they don’t know you fueled the industrial age”. Endowed with natural resources but struggle with poverty that’s what they say about you. “They judge you like they judge books without covers” “They never read a page from your book”. Like Rumplestiltskin they’ve spun your coal to goal and tried to steal your soul, like sesiphys they condemn you to a life of infamy but can never take your innate optimism for life and taking care of your own.
Like the phoenix you rise, rise from the ashes of your predecessors, coal mines and the black dust. Like fine linen on fresh washed children you are the quintessential hope for tomorrow, I share your sorrow, feel your pain, smile at your jog. They say your voice is a cacophony but to me it is a sweet symphony, a sweet symphony that says “we will not go into the night, we will not vanish without a fight. I say to you what Sam Cooke said to them:
“I was born by the river in a little tent, oh and just like the river I been running ever since, its been a long, a long time coming, but I know change gone come, oh yes it will.”
– Kahdijah Muhammad
Today marked the last full day in West Virginia and it’s safe to say it’s bittersweet. Because of the weather at the start of the trip, we got off to a slow start, but once we got going we were able to accomplish many of our goals.
Our CCP nursing students did various health-related tasks including helping out at Scarbro and teaching local children about dental hygiene and hand washing. Other members of team 85 helped unload the food truck to distribute groceries to local families in need. Afterwards we went to a dinner made for us and the other two college groups at SALS to say goodbye. So the evening is coming to an end, I’m reflecting on the work I did and feel proud of everything we have accomplished.