This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to the smell of Bacon! Bob and Olga were busy in the kitchen prepping for breakfast. The team all gathered for a quick bite, then we all packed our lunches and sat in the living room area to hear (& film) the daily inspiration.
This is it, it is the last day. I can tell that everyone is tired and sore, but we are determined to finish off strong! Everyone was in the van at 8:00am sharp. From Beards Fork we travelled into Oak Hill where we met at the school to be assigned our tasks for the last day.
As the team all headed out to their job sites, I was left at the school to meet with Kenna, a local who works full time at SALS. I had the opportunity to have a chat with her and talk a little bit about her life. She spoke about growing up in West Virginia and how there is not a lot of activities designed to keep teens busy or engaged. She ended up turning to drugs and other illegal activities, including selling drugs which resulted in her ending up in prison. She was very candid about the lack of support and motivation to succeed as many young West Virginians have little hope for the future.
Kenna also talked about her success now, as a result of SALS. She is now working full time with this organization, and is clean and drug free. This is an accomplishment that she is very proud of and finally has hope for the life she can provide for herself and her kids.
Of course, I had to ask for an interview. Kenna graciously accepted and I can’t wait to get back to Toronto to go through and edit this footage.
Once we finished, Kenna took me over to the job site on 61st, where the rest of the team was working away on John and Evelyn’s house. I continued my filming, and interviews from the remaining team members.
Once everyone was finished we met up to travel back to Beads Fork, and get ready for a special trip. Dinner with Karen, Mrs Brenda and a few of the SALS team members we had worked with throughout the week. They hadn’t told us what the restaurant would be, but we were all excited! On the way over, through town, Tony spotted a restaurant called Guiseppe’s and wanted to stop and grab a photo. Karen slowed down to allow Tony to capture the shot, but little did we know, that was the restaurant that we were eating at. Mrs Brenda thought it would be nice to have some authentic (West Virginian) Italian/American food, and it was such a nice, thoughtful gesture.
We all ordered some food, ate, laughed and mingled; This was such a great opportunity to just really get to know our new friends and connect even further. After we were all full and ready to go, we said goodbye to Curtis and the rest of the crew from the site, and then set off for John David’s (the Director of SALS) house for dessert. There we reflected on the entire experience. We spoke openly to John about what we loved, what worked, and even what didn’t (which wasn’t a lot). It was an amazing way to end this journey. Hearing what each Roma team member took away from this experience and the West Virginian culture, as well as from Mrs Brenda, Karen and John; what they learned from us. It was really touching. The top 3 take aways were:
1) That the people of West Virginia were very humble, Friendly and Warm; and were open and willing to share and talk about the struggles they have each been through
2) That the SALS / Global Volunteers staff were gracious, friendly and always eager to help us to ensure that our volunteer experience was a great one.
3) The connections we made, both with the locals as well as within our own team will last a lifetime.
When we arrived back at the dorms it started to really sink in that it was our last night under one roof. As excited as we all are to get home, it was bitter sweet to think that I wont be seeing half of these amazing people for a long time. So we decided to stay up a little longer, and finished out the evening by playing a fun game called “Heads up!” where we acted out, and provided clues to our team member, who had to guess the word(s) displayed on their forehead. It was so much fun I didn’t want it to end, but as my eyes grew heavy I knew it was time to get to bed, as we had an early morning and a long drive ahead of us tomorrow morning.
My final thoughts on the mission are simple; Roma never ceases to Move, Inspire and Wow me with their values and their want to help others. Roma Wish is truly a great way to give back to the community, to step out of your comfort zone and really get a glance at how people, not so far from home, live in such impoverished conditions. I’ve been on three different missions now and I can say that I keep learning more and more every year. Thank you Roma Moulding for giving me the opportunity to experience this amazing journey, and thank you to the Roma Wish team for all the laughs, all the food, and all the happy memories.
This is Nat, Video ninja signing out from Roma Wish 2017. And as the Great Veronica Bertelsen would say: GET IT GIRL!