In response to the tragedy of displaced children and families caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their aftermath, the Hope for the Children project is a one year recovery project that aimed to:
1) meet the psychological and social needs of marginalized children and youth in the affected region and its diaspora;
2) prepare religious communities to more effectively meet the long-term recovery needs; and
3) encourage people of faith to address the real issues of poverty underlying the efforts to build back better.
The project galvanized the support and capacities of local religious communities to assist with long-term recovery efforts in two select cities/regions in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Through partnerships with local and regional interreligious bodies, such as the Louisiana Interreligious Disaster Recovery Network, on-the-ground engagement was facilitated.
Via a two-pronged approach, the Hope for Children Project trained volunteers of diverse religious communities to assist in disaster recovery with children and youth and fosters summer camps for affected youth that focus on enabling them to process their experiences and re-integrate more successfully. The trainings utilize recently developed and pilot-tested trauma awareness and recovery resources. These resources are geared specifically for youth and are appropriate to a multi-religious approach. They were created by the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program at Eastern Mennonite University, who is a partnering entity on this project. The camp’s promotional and administrative support was provided by the Camp Noah project of the Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.