MDS on TVBy Steve Carpenter For
Often the network evening news broadcasts end with a human interest story. On March 29, NBC Nightly News featured Mennonite Disaster Service.
The segment told of plain-dressed Mennonite volunteers rebuilding homes in Grand Bayou, La., five years after Hurricane Katrina.
Brian Williams, the news anchor, led the story by saying he frequently visits disaster sites.
“Often the first people we see arriving on the scene to jump in, and help out, and rebuild, are the Mennonites,” he said. “Hurricane Katrina was no different. They arrived without fanfare, and they are still there.”
In Grand Bayou, reporter Kerry Sanders explained the efforts of Mennonite volunteers from Wisconsin and western Canada, who came for a week or two at a time, to rebuild storm-damaged homes with MDS.
Sanders began the segment by saying, “Cajuns say they don’t know much about the strangers who dress old school and speak Dutch.” That would be Pennsylvania Dutch, a form of German.
He focused on the new home that MDS volunteers built for 65-year-old Dwight Reyes, who had lived with his wife for four and a half years on his fishing boat, with living space about the size of a prison cell.
“When outsiders promised him a new home and wanted nothing in return, he was skeptical,” Sanders said.
The camera showed a skiff traversing the bayou with an MDS emblem on its side, and then a “Mennonite Disaster Service Work Site” sign, followed by an interview with Scott Sundberg, MDS communications director.
Sundberg explained that Mennonites promote a “culture of service.” He compared what the Mennonites are doing in Louisiana to an Amish barn raising: “You help your neighbor.”
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