Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Second relief trip to #Ishinomaki

We went to Ishinomakion May 3rd and June 5th. Around the Minato Junior High School areawe found less debris, a testament to the hard work of the locals, self-defence troops, and volunteers.

But one concern was the little puddle that turned into a lake after an hour. That didn't happen before. Now that happens twice a day. How terrible. We saw junior high school kids riding bikes through that tidal water as if it was normal.

All the relief goods from Abiko and Kashiwa couldn't fit in a two-ton truck, I felt so relieved that @Rentorabin offered a four-ton truck for free. We easily filled the truck.

On June 4th, we had undokai sports day in the morning in Abiko. All the daddies in our neighbourhood woke up early to reserve a space, and despite their exhaustion, they all helped us load the goods into the tuck straight after sports day. Thanks to all for helping. I didn't have the energy to carry those boxes.

This time we went to Ishinomaki with new members. It took us only five hours to get there. I was glad to see the local
volunteers again. They work hard to support the people there every day. What great teachers.

More than 200 people came to our free flea market. Toilet rolls, nappies, bags, and emergency rations were gone in a flash. Also, 70 bicycles were delivered to people who needed them. At the Minato Junior High School, we had 30 bikes and it didn't take long to give all of them away. It made me realise we must keep getting bikes to them.

All the volunteers from different prefectures all think the same thing: Why are these people still here? There are more places in Ishinomaki city even to live as normal. Why stay in shelters or dilapidated houses when their lifelines have been cut?

Reason 1: No
money, no jobs, no house. They still don't know what to do.
Reason 2: Worried they won't receive disaster relief money they are entitled to if they move.
Reason 3: Still looking for family members. They don't want to leave until they have found them.
Reason 4: Can't imagine living anywhere else but Ishinomaki - their birthplace.

There are more reasons of course.

There was a man looking for books at the market. We had collected mainly kids' picture books, so I assumed there was nothing for him. Luckily, we found a history book for high school kids. He liked it. We also found a brain training quiz game and we started reading the manual together. I didn't ask him, but he said: "I'm still looking for my wife, so I can't leave here." I didn't know what to say. All I could say was, "Oh, I see."

Lots of people say: "You should leave." But there is a reason and strong feeling to stay in such a devastated area. So, I asked myself: If I couldn't find my husband, daughters or mother, what would I do? I probably would do just as the man was doing, hoping beyond hope that my family was still alive.

So, if the locals decide to stay, then they have to stand up. It is time for them to rebuild their city. I was looking forward to seeing kids this time, but still only a handful came to the market. I work with kids normally, so I really wanted to see their smiles. I was happy to talk to the kids I did get to see.

I really appreciate all the support everyone has given so freely - twice! From now on, I want to try our best to support the kids in Ishinomaki.

There is a school called Okawa Elementary where 70% of teachers and kids drowned in the tsunami. Only 34 kids survived. The school has 19 kids enrolled. But now they have moved 10km away to a part of Iinokawa Elementary. I feel pain in my heart whenever I think about those kids. They are fighting and struggling for their lives. I wonder if there are any adults supporting them when they most need it? I want to see those kids.

I'm thinking about holding a beach ball competition, ping pong, face-painting, sweet fishing and arts and crafts and English songs and games. I want all the kids to play a lot. It might be a good idea to let them make candy cane. I want all the kids to think what they would like to do. I'd love to support them. Of course, it's not one go, but a continuous effort for a long time.

Have you seen the videos we uploaded from Ishinomaki? These kids are going to school in this environment everyday. Even if they are strong, if they are forced to live like this for more than three months, I don't believe they can live a normal life. I want to have a kids festival, so please help us make this happen. Thank you.

Our Woman in Abiko

1 comment:

  1. If I was still hoping a spouse could be alive I would do the same.

    Those poor people. All we see and read about are the logistics of their homelessness and the radiation problems. What can anyone say about the scale of their loss?