Oct. 19, 2011
Let me roll back to the date when I arrived at Nobiru. Frequent bus services were provided there in place of the original train line, which was yet to be resumed. As soon as I stepped off a bus, debris at Nobiru Station reminded me of the destructive power of tsunami. However, in the midst of the sad reminder, blooming Cosmos flowers welcomed me with a message that life perseveres. Again at Nobiru Elementary School which was located within a walking distance of the station, I marveled at the yellow hue of sunflowers. These flowers, which had been planted by a local women’s group, were like a symbol for resilience of the people.
I shall not call them “earthquake victims” in my blog. They are ordinary people who happen to be affected by the earthquake and tsunami. As I interact with the locals, I have learned that people are people. Their weakness, strength, beauty, and ugliness are similar to what I have seen in North America.
This morning, a fellow volunteer told me, “Why don’t you take a day off? If you miss this chance, you will probably not be able to take one for a long while again.” I quickly handed my tasks to her and ran to a bus to go to Sendai. I am visiting a former volunteer here. It’s wonderful to have the time to write.
Japanese are well-known for their industriousness. The leaders of volunteer organizations I belong to have been working without any day off since the earthquake, and we are naturally expected to be as diligent as they. However, when I consider that the restoration of the tsunami-afflicted areas will take years and that it has been past the emergency stage, I wonder to myself if it is still necessary for aid workers to stress ourselves out with the workloads.
Although I wish for more private time, I am happy with my work. We visit each family at their home environment and access their needs. Most of them have already renovated their houses, but still a few live in houses with no window or floor. Those without adequate housing usually lack food. About one half of the victims need psychological support. Many request simply for information. We collect such data, discuss the needs in a weekly meeting, and provide each family with what is needed. One organization cannot handle a large project like this. Rather the collaboration of different professionals is the key to the success. I am thrilled to be involved as an assessment team leader in this rewarding project.
Here is a photo taken on Oct. 21, shortly after I arrived at Nobiru Elementary School. Most of the volunteers have already left.
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