Monday, May 23, 2016


by: Shannon Carney

First day of work is now complete! When we arrived to the cemetery this morning, about a quarter of the fence was already welded and looked absolutely incredible.  There was a gate opening into the cemetery that was also already complete signaling that it was a Jewish cemetery with the Star of David on top to the rest of the passer-bys.  The workday began by dividing up into different teams to accomplish different tasks such as fence placement in order to be welded, collecting of rocks around the cemetery to make cement, and digging up and restoring gravestones.  Initially, Macey and I began carrying the fence posts to there positions along the outside of the cemetery. This was definitely hard work and my face turned bright red as a result of this.  The working men, who were doing the welding and cement making, kept asking us if we wanted a break and we simply said not yet.  I’m not sure if it was sheer determination and a can do attitude that enabled us to continue to lift the posts along the border of the cemetery but we were able to complete a decent part of the fens border placement of parts.

After this around 12:30, the team had lunch at the local middle school.  This was quite an experience.  We walked in smelling of bug spray, mud, and honestly a lot of body odor from the first half of the day, but the school really welcomed us with open arms.  The director of the school greeted us with another teacher and two students.  We quickly ate lunch and then we were invited to tour around their school, which was a great opportunity to see different student art work, inspirational quotes throughout the school, and even a small museum resembling the student’s grandparents living conditions.  After this, we were taken outside to play and learn a few games with the students that had led the tour.

In the afternoon, the groups were rotated in order to partake in more aspects of the cemetery restoration process.  Paige, Sarah and I (The Power Puff Girls) were one of the groups doing the gravestone restoration.  Here, we tried to find, outline with a shovel, and lastly usually turn over the gravestones that we found buried under about 2 inches of soil.  There was one grave in particular that we worked very hard to dig up and turn over.  We were each surprised to see how well it was persevered.  At the end of the day, the mayor of Stakliskes even came by to commend our work thus far.

Today was filled with a great deal of teamwork and team bonding via hard work. One aspect that I was reflecting on today was the girl power-ness of the day.  Whether it was carrying the fence posts with Macey and having the workingmen compliment us on our determination or Paige, Sarah and I lifting up massive grave stones with help from a crowbar or shovel I was very proud of the work our group has put in so far and it was only been one day of work.

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