Day 2: Working in the Vietnamese community

Aman Ali


BILOXI, MISS. — At 10 a.m., Kent State volunteers arrived in east Biloxi to repair homes inside a Vietnamese community. But because of organizational delays, some crews didn’t get a chance to start working on the homes until a few hours later.

The main project of the day was to lay drywall at the home of Father Dong Phan, a Roman Catholic priest at the Church of the Martyrs in east Biloxi. About 20 volunteers came ready to work, but were unable to due to permit restrictions.

“Father Phan already has a building permit,” said Joel Newburn, senior political science major who was in charge of the drywall crew. “But we can’t start until we get an electrician to sign off on the permit. Father Phan thought an electrician was coming.”

To read Aman’s blog about his own experiences, click here.

On top of that, the crew had no drywall supplies on site to work with. The crew had to wait almost two hours for an electrician to inspect Phan’s home and three hours for supplies to arrive.

“This could be more organized,” said Julie Meek, a senior at Kent Roosevelt High School. “But there’s so many people here, it’s almost like it’s impossible.”

Many of the other work sites were also delayed because of missing supplies. Volunteers were doing repair work at multiple homes throughout the Vietnamese community in Biloxi. The residents were pleased with what the Kent State students were doing.

“After the hurricane, my neighborhood looked like a cemetery,” said Pham Kiet, whose home had roof work done on it. “I lived here for 30 years — my God. We are so thankful for all the help.”

Check back to throughout the week for daily reports about the volunteers’ efforts.

Contact student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].