Friday, 6 May 2011

戦場へ入る Into the war zone

2011年5月2日 7:30pmに我孫子を出発し、2:30amに石巻市に到着。


ニュースで問題になっていた渋滞なんて全くなく、スイスイと7時間で到着した。


三陸自動車道河南ICで最後の休憩をとることにした。2時間仮眠してから現地へ向おうと車中で寝袋に包まって寝ようとした。寝ようと努力したが、寒くて寒くてとても寝られなかった。


3月なんてもっと寒かったことだろう・・・黒い波にのまれてしまった人たちは、どんなに怖かったことだろうか?などといろいろ考えながら、目がウルウルとしてきた。


旦那から転送されたツイッター仲間からの激励メッセージを何度も読む。世界中のたくさんの人が一緒にいてくれていると思うと、ホッとし、励みになった。


4:30amに湊中学に向けて出発。スタッフ7名の顔に緊張が走る。石巻の現実を見るのが怖くて怖くてしょうがない。見てはいけないものがたくさんあるんだろうと思いながら、心臓はドキドキしたまま。


石巻市内に入り、営業再開しているのであろうと思われるお店もちらほら出て来た。信号もちゃんと動いている。

災害の面影がない。。。一瞬そんな気がした。


車を走らせる事15分で景色はドンドン変わっていった。信じられない程変わっていった。


家の形がドンドン歪んでいく。畳が外に出されている。

海に向かう最後の石巻大橋を渡ったあとは、もう全く別世界の景色となってしまった。


とにかくどこもかしこも瓦礫の山。所々に家が残っていたと思ったら、横から見ると、家がまっ二つに割れていた。ここは戦場なのか?爆破されたあとなのか?全く持って表現のしようがない。


橋の片隅にどこからか流されて来た一軒家が引っかかっていた。窓ガラスは割れ、でもカーテンだけがヒラヒラと風になびいていた。

酷すぎる、悲しすぎるという感情を越えると、人間は全く声が出なくなる。何かを言いたくても、声にならなかった。生まれて初めての経験だ。


5amに湊中学に到着した。すでに4人のおじさんが待っていた。

車を出るなり、「自転車待っていたんです。ありがとう。ありがとう。」と笑顔で迎えられる。


我孫子から持参した自転車は2台、現地ボランティアの先生が宮城の山側から集めてくれた自転車4台と合わせて合計6台。自転車をそんなに心待ちにしていたなんて知らなかった。もっと積んでくれば良かった。もっと集めて来れば良かった。心の中で呟いた。


8amからスタートする予定のフリマとカフェのために人々は5時過ぎからドンドンあつまった。嬉しい反面、期待している物を持って来れただろうかと不安でいっぱいだった。


7時半過ぎにドアを開ける。物の取り合いになるので、気をつけて下さい。身を守って下さいと言われたが、そんな気配は全く無し。良い人たち。


ママたちが作ってくれた愛情クッキーとケーキは大人気。

お菓子の山を見て、皆さん手と手を合わせて拝んでおられました。

「ありがたい。ありがたい。してもらってばかりで申し訳ない」と言いながら。


子供の数は、思っていた以上に少なく、子供でも小学校高学年から中学生が多く、提供できる服があまりなく、とても悔しかった。


もっと現地のボランティアスタッフにも調査してもらって、何が一番求められているのか詳細を知っておくべきだと感じた。


一番心配されていた古着。新品でなくていいのかしら?と支援者から何度も聞かれました。でも被災者からは「ありがとう」といって一切文句はでませんでした。思った以上に夏服やTシャツやリュックサックを探している人も多かった。靴も探していたけど、サイズが見つからない人が殆どだった。


May 2nd, 2011 - 7.30pm we left Abiko. We arrived in Ishinomaki City at 2.30am. In the news, they kept talking about roads being chock-a-block, but we sailed straight through. At Sanriku Jidoshado Kanan interchange we decided to take a last two-hour break before entering the war zone. We tucked into our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. But, we couldn't. It was freezing cold. in the back of my mind I thought about how cold people must have felt in March, how scared they must have been to be swallowed by the black waves. My eyes were wet.

My husband had transferred all the messages of support from twitter to my mobile phone. I read these again and again. I felt so relieved and they gave me strength.

At 4.30am we started off for Minato Junior High School. We were so tense to see the reality of Ishinomaki, probably there would be lots of things we wouldn't be able to cope with. That was the scariest moment, because we really didn't know what to expect.

As we entered Ishinomaki City, we saw shops that looked like they were still in business, traffic lights were working well. We thought - was there really a disaster here? About 15 minutes later the landscape began to change gradually for the worse. Houses were leaning over at strange angles, the shapes were all wrong. Lots of tatami mats were outside. Then, when we crossed over Ishinomaki Bridge heading to the coast, we entered a different world.

Anywhere you looked there were piles of debris. Hey, I can see a house - but then you see it is only a single wall, a movie set facade, there was nothing behind. Was this a war zone? Had the bomb dropped? I saw one house stuck at the edge of a bridge. Where it had come from, I had no idea. The window panes were broken, the curtains were flapping in the breeze. Shocking.

It was the first time in my life for me to be too sad to speak. At 5am we arrived in Minato Junior High School. Four old men were waiting for us already. One said: "I was waiting for a bicycle. Thank you. Thank you very much." He smiled at us.

We had brought only two bicycles from Abiko. A local volunteer teacher had brought four. In total we had six. I didn't know people were so desperate for bicycles. Why didn't I bring more? I scolded myself.

The flea market and cafe was meant to start from 8am but people were queuing from 5 am. I was very happy, but at the same time I was nervous: Had I brought what they needed? Did I have the right stuff?

After 7.30am we opened the doors. We were told people would fight for stuff, please be careful and protect yourself. But I didn't experience any nastiness at all. The people were very nice. All the homemade cookies and cakes that had been made with so much love were very popular. Many people looked at the pile of cakes and held their hands together in thanks and apologised that they were only taking, that they had nothing to give in return. It was heartbreaking.

There were a lot fewer children than I had expected. There were more Year Five, Six and junior high school kids than I had expected and I didn't have the right size clothes for them. I was so ashamed. I wished the local volunteers had given us more specific advice. We should have known more details.

The first thing everyone back in Abiko had worried about was whether second-hand clothes would really be acceptable. But, the people said thank you. nobody complained at all. More people wanted to have summer clothes and T-shirts and backpacks than we expected. Lots of people were looking for shoes, but most couldn't find the right sizes.

3 comments:

  1. Now that you know more specifically what is needed, especially the bicycles, what is being done? Can Abiko City donate uncollected, illegally parked bicycles from its lock-up facility?

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  2. I am now following this blog. Thank you for the update.

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  3. Thanks Ken,
    Abiko city can send to Ishinomaki city directly if they request.
    But they can't release any single uncollected bikes to us as those bikes are technically owned by City!

    There are so many things I want to mention.
    I 'll update more details tonight!

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