August 23, 2011 6:40 PM

Our Participation in Volunteer Activities to Support Recovery in Tohoku

Hello, I am Nakano from the NEXT Center.

I would like to express my sincere condolences and deep sympathy to those who lost their lives in or have suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Starting off in the volunteer bus “Kankeiren-go.”

▲ Starting off in the volunteer bus “Kankeiren-go.”

I recently participated in a volunteer bus tour to one of the afflicted areas, organized by the Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren).

From July 8 to 11, participants from companies based in the Kansai region undertook volunteer activities to support recovery efforts in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

Over the two days of July 9 and 10, participants cleaned the gutters in a residential area in Ishinomaki. Residents complained that they suffered from sludge that had risen up from the tsunami along with water, and then accumulated in gutters. This has been one of the problems facing afflicted areas, which we could not notice back here in Osaka. Even four months after the earthquake, nearly 90% of all the gutters in the flooded areas were still uncleaned.

On both the two days, the temperature rose above 30℃. Participants had a hard time doing unfamiliar work in the gutters. We often hardly notice how heavy the gutter covers and wet sludge really are...

Gutters are so clean after the sludge is removed.

▲ Gutters are so clean after the sludge is removed.

During this hard work, we were refreshed with the kind hearts of the residents. When we were exhausted and taking a break in some shade, a couple brought us some cool water and fresh vegetables. Children called out to us, “Hello!”, in a cheerful voice. This may sound trite, but we felt like the afflicted residents were helping us more than we were helping them.

We finally managed to complete the work, with much support from the residents. Covers were put over the gutters after the work, so we could no longer see how clean the gutters had become. However, we had a fresh sense of achievement after finishing. The head of the neighborhood association expressed his gratitude to us, and we felt that we were able to provide some assistance to the residents.

Ishinomaki in the aftermath of the tsunami

▲ Ishinomaki in the aftermath of the tsunami

Ishinomaki in the aftermath of the tsunami

 

Through this visit to an afflicted area, I once again recognized what devastating damage the earthquake had caused, and how terrible tsunami could be. It was a valuable experience to know the actual status of the afflicted areas, which is difficult to see back here in Osaka, and to recognize problems facing residents of those areas. I hope to continue helping people who live in the affected areas in some way.

♪ Related link: Kansai Economic Federation http://www.kankeiren.or.jp/English/

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