A KIRKCALDY woman has been helping to make a difference to the lives of those affected by the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans.
Gabbi Anderson (60) spent ten weeks in the American state working on re-building the inside of houses which were destroyed as a result of both disasters.
The self-employed dressmaker spent 71 days from January to the start of this month laying and scraping floors, hanging doors, painting and finishing rooms in two houses as part of the St Bernard Project (SBP).
The project is an award-winning rebuilding, non profit organisation whose mission is to help vulnerable families, elderly and disabled residents who are struggling to recover from the devastation caused by both hurricanes as well as the recent oil spill.
One of its schemes is its rebuilding programme which aims to create safe, secure and affordable housing across New Orleans.
Gabbi said: “For my 50th birthday I went backpacking around the world for three months.
‘‘I decided that at 60, I wanted to do some voluntary work abroad.
‘‘I looked at places like India and South Africa but I kept getting drawn to New Orleans.
‘‘There are two main charities working there - Hands on New Orleans and the St Bernard Project and I spent most of my time on the SBP.”
Gabbi started fundraising nine months before she was due to go as she needed to pay for her own flights, accommodation and food.
There were a few obstacles to overcome - the main one being finding a place to stay after her accommodation closed down - but Gabbi says she has no regrets about the trip.
She said: “Before I went I did not do any DIY and had no idea how to operate a nail gun!
‘‘By the time I was leaving I became quite good at using tools and was very fast at painting and finishing work. I worked a 35-40 hour week and it was very hard work but we managed to have some fun too!”
Gabbi had a farewell picnic with friends before she left and is already planning to return next year. She added: “I went there because I wanted to help people.
‘‘I just knew that going to New Orleans was the right thing to do.”