Spring Break Trip to Aid Edisto Indians

March 18, 2010
by Nay Min Oo ’12

During spring break, six Hampden-Sydney students joined a mission trip to help the Edisto Indian community in Ridgeville, South Carolina, which is thirty miles from Charleston.  The trip was co-sponsored by the Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist Church, the Catholic Campus Ministry, the Baptist Campus Ministry, and Johns Memorial Episcopal Church in Farmville.  The Hampden-Sydney students were David Barrett ’10, Matt Boschen ’13, Justin Gordon ’13, Adam Lees ’11, John B. Murray ’12, and me.  Also in the group were six students from Longwood University.  We left Farmville on March 7th and came back on the 13th.  After an eight-hour drive, we arrived at our destination.  A local pastor generously provided his home for the group to stay in.

The Edisto Indians live on Edisto Island and along the Edisto River.  Their current population is about 800.  Although the tribe has pursued efforts to be recognized by the federal government since the 1960’s, only recently did it win federal recognition.  Thus, the tribe has received little government funding.  The Edisto community is led by Chief Anthony Davidson and has a community center for the elderly.  It is in this community center that we did most of our construction work. 

Work started the day after arrival.  It did not take long for us to find out that the place was in bad shape: its main floor was unlevel and the staircases were broken. The building, nearly destroyed by termites, could literally collapse at anytime.  As our first task, we reorganized the shed and collected the materials needed for construction.  For the rest of the week, we worked hard on converting the community center into a safer and more usable building.  We installed a new floor, built a new staircase, and fixed part of the roof. We also built a new bookshelf for the library.  The Edisto community members, to express their appreciation, provided us two lunches—which we greatly enjoyed.  The local Trinity Church members also provided us a dinner and were impressed when they heard about our work.

In addition to doing construction work, the group spent a day in the city of Charleston and at Folly Beach.  In Charleston, we visited the famous Market and the Battery and were amazed at the historic buildings.  The time spent on Folly Beach was equally exciting, even more so for me as it was my very first beach experience in America.  We also visited the 1400 years old Angle Oak, the oldest living organism east of Mississippi River.

On Saturday, March 13, after a week of hard work and great fun, we left Ridgeville and returned to Farmville, recharged and revitalized.  Upon our departure, we left a Hampden-Sydney postcard at the community center. The Hampden-Sydney students represented good men and good citizens, and we are very proud of what we accomplished.