Thursday, August 31, 2006

School of Hard Knocks - literally

NEW ORLEANS, LA. -- On the line at McDonald's on Canal Street (it can't all be gumbo and jambalaya, y'all), your blogstress, wearing press tags, was approached by a woman in her 30s or 40s, who offered a piece of paper bearing the following message:

What is Esther's Haven House?

Esther's Haven House is a non-profit organization that provides emergency safe accomodations for battered women and children. These women are housed free of charge and given the tools to restore their lives. Temporary refuge, job placement assistance, security, access to healthcare, childcare assistance and referral to educational resources for children are all provided. Our ultimate goal is resettlement of the family in a new, safe environment. ALL FREE OF CHARGE. We help as many women as our resources allow.

If you want to help us help these families, please make a donation today!

Esther's Haven House • 1900 St. Claude Avenue

For More Information Contact:

Kiesha Keller
PO Box 19021 NOLA 70119

It was Kiesha Keller who approached your Webwench, explaining, "Domestic violence has exploded in this city since Katrina."

Ms. Keller, herself, lost her home, in which she used to house the battered women to whom she tends. But she since found space in a new building, she said. During the day, she works cleaning the streets. Asked if she was a social worker, Ms. Keller replied with a laugh, "I'm a graduate from the school of hard knocks. I was a battered woman myself, and that's why I started this."

Your blogstress has no way of ascertaining the bona fides of Ms. Keller's outfit, but she surely seemed earnest enough. And mental health problems have reached epidemic proportions in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina; up 45 percent, according to Catholic Charities.

At a gathering in Congo Square on Sunday, sponsored by Mercy Corps, at which musician and activist Cyril Neville and his lovely wife, Gaynielle performed, a beautiful angel of a child wearing a white dress, her many braids each adorned with a white satin ribbon, handed your blogstress a Mercy Corps pamphlet titled, Helping Children and Teens Cope with Hurrican Season: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers. Here's an excerpt:
Be a Model:

You first. To take care of children and teens, it is important that you nurture yourself. Take time for yourself with friends, faith, music and creative outlets. Try to eat right and excercise. Seek alone time and quietness. Taking just 10 minutes each day for YOU can really help! Talk about your feelings with people you trust; ask for help when you need it. Children often get worried when the adults around them are worried. If you can stay genuinely calm and positive, this will go a long way in reassuring your children. Taking care of yourself will help you be there for your children.

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