While most of the students and faculty at Cabrini were enjoying their spring break at home or traveling to a warmer location, there were some students and faculty who gave their spring break for the service of others.
For students and Area Coordinator Akirah Massenburg, the Appalachian mission trip to Mount Hope, W.V. was an eye opening experience that not only gave perspective to helping others but also a greater understanding for social justice.
“It was life changing,” Massenburg said. “It was my first time doing mission work and being fully immersed in it.”
Once in Mount Hope, the group was split in half, one group for each major project. The first project was to build a ramp for a woman who was legally blind and who also had hearing problems. Massenburg’s group project was to dig a trench and hole to run electric wires into a woman’s house.
“We were muddy, sweaty, cold and tired,” Massenburg said.
The working conditions weren’t the only challenges faced. Getting up at seven in the morning everyday also provided an added challenge for Massenburg and the group, but were ultimately worth it.
On the one day break from work, Massenburg was able to see why she and the others were there in Mount Hope.
“The town was really falling apart,” Massenburg said. “It was like a ghost town. There was an old coal mine there that was built in the early 1900s and miners were tied to the mine. They only made 20 cents per ton of coal.”
This story was what began to put social justice in perspective for Massenburg. She explained the work they were doing in terms of direct change vs. social justice.
“Direct change is the immediate result, such as digging the ditch for the wires to go. Social justice is what happens to the people we help after we’ve gone,” Massenburg said. “It’s like the saying, give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime. We just help pave the way.”
For Holly, the daughter of the woman getting electricity, this was the case. Holly, only a 16-year-old high school student, wants to attend college but had no clue where to start when it came to the college search. Massenburg talked to her about college and what she has to do to apply, helping her become more confident in herself. Massenburg still keeps in contact with her and her family, amplifying the concept of knowing what happens to the people being helped after she leaves.
After returning to Cabrini, Massenburg reflected on her trip and how it impacted her.
“I was on fire when I was down there, and wanted to carry that fire back with me,” Massenburg said. “It showed me I need to always have compassion and provide people with hope. It reminded me of why I came to Cabrini. I love the social justice aspect here, and I think I can help students realize the world is bigger than what’s going on in our own community through trips like this.”
Massenburg, an active participant in Campus Ministry programs, was excited to participate in the Appalachian mission trip and hopes to go on the next trip to New Orleans.
“I want to be a voice for those who can’t articulate their situation themselves,” Massenburg said. “I want to help change lives.”