This was my second week of volunteering as a Youth For 3.11 member with NICCO. This time we were assigned to work in Kessenuma and Rikuzentakata. These are two of the most devastated areas in Tohoku. It is said that these areas were not effected by the earthquake as much as it was by the massive tsunami that swept through the entire area. Many have died and many more are still missing.
Our job as NICCO (Nippon International Corporation for Community Development) http://www.kyoto-nicco.org/english/index.html was to clear out rubble and dirt from homes that have been untouched since the disaster... read on for more details.
|our lovely little home. This is where all 20 of us volunteers stayed. |
The two middle rooms and the room on the bottom right corner is being rented out by NICCO.
oh yes, and please note that Japanese people don't make curry in the bath tub. We were only using it because the curry we were going to eat was frozen in a giant bag left by the previous group and there wasn't a pot big enough to defrost it.
|Curry for 20! Looks kind of like pop art!|
|work hard, play hard!|
|Breakfast is also eaten on the floor. Today we had cereal and bananas.|
|My new friend and group member Miki from Texas! She's half Japanese and just like me, she is using her summer vacation to volunteer in Japan. Youth For 3.11 is becoming very international.|
|Our trademark vest. This is to keep track of who's who. There are so many volunteers in this area that it is very important that we all wear the same vest so others know who we are as well.|
|This was such a hot day and we all had to wear rain pants!|
|Lunch time!! We each get two rice balls and a snack for lunch.|
|"Kessennuma Fish Market"|
|The Japanese Self Defense are using heavy machinery to plow through roads and homes.|
|The clock here has stopped at the exact time the tsunami hit the port on March 11th.|
|This boat had gone up in flames after the tsunami. There was a massive amount of oil that spilled from the boats around this port.|
|A tough reminder of what this disaster has done to people's lives....|
|It's hard to tell in this photo but there's a faint white line on the window. |
This is the height of the tsunami when it hit this home.
This is the Kessennuma Volunteer Centre. All volunteers must register with this VC in order to work in the area. This is where volunteers receive their work for the day and they can also borrow supplies like shovels. We visited this VC each day to register and to get work for the day. There were many volunteers from around the world. I ran into a group of international students from US who were here on a grant to volunteer. Their group was formed by students who were interested in volunteering from the entire country. I thought that this was an amazing idea and the Canadian government should give out grants for students who want to volunteer.
This was by far the toughest day we experienced. The weather had hit a high of 30 degrees and we worked for about 6 hours in total. Our job was to clear out the inside of this warehouse and separate the rubble into things that the owner wanted to keep, and things that were burnable, and things that were going to be trashed. It took all 20 of us to clear out one small room. Now imagine how much man power, time and money it takes to clean an entire coast. We need more volunteers!
|"Please tear this down - by the home owners"|
|during our lunch break!|
|The inside of this ware house was so humid and smelled so bad that there was no way that we could have gone in there without masks and rain jackets. But after a hard days work the effort is very visible.|
|Group shot of the day! |
The lady who owned the warehouse was so happy to see such a huge difference.
|Another problem this area is facing is the infestation of over grown flies.|
|These flies are absolutely everywhere and are causing health alerts.|
|These home made fly traps are inventive ways of home owners trying to get rid of them.|
|Today a few of the members from the meal team switched with the rubble team.|
|our task for the day was to help prepare meals for 250 people living in this gymnasium.|
Suicides upping casualties from Tohoku catastrophe By ROB GILHOOLY
|Self Defense Force opening up a free bath service for the residents in the shelters|
|"Koi- Nobori" (flying carp) these were made by elementary students as a symbol of hope and peace|
|the second shelter we went to|
Unfortunately it rained on day 5 and our plans were cancelled. When it rains the work becomes too dangerous for volunteers so we spent the day touring around the area. We went to Hiraizumi - a very famous temple and an ice cream shop.
|Saw a really big mud slide on our way back|
The rest of the day was free time!!
Day 6 was also cancelled due to weather, but our driver Mr. Ito gave us a tour of the most devastated areas of Rikuzentakata. This was by far the most damage I have ever seen. It really made me change my perspective on life.
|Thank you to our driver Ito-san. You were a great leader and a great guy to talk to!|
|YF3 X NICCO 10th|
P.S. To those who stuck around to read this until the end. There must be a reason why you read this all the way through, maybe you are supporting my efforts, maybe you are interested to learn more about Japan, or maybe this has inspired you to do something yourself. Whatever the reason, if there is even a little whisper that's pushing you to volunteer and make a difference, follow it. Follow your heart. Do something so crazy that you never thought you could do it. I mean hey, look where that little whisper took me to?
LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT.