[Western Japan Flooding] Meet the PBV Volunteers! Introducing Harshil
The Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center has been working in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, to provide support to the local residents affected by the flooding last July.
For the last seven months, in Kurashiki, over 400 volunteers hav e participated and offered a helping hand in a wide range of relief efforts with PBV, from hot meal distribution and evacuation shelter operation at the earlier phase after the disaster to house cleaning, community building, and, more recently, photo-cleaning. As part of a series, we would like to introduce some of the volunteers who joined our team in Kurashiki recently. Today, we are introducing Harshil from New Zealand.
Harshil, a university student from New Zealand, decided to contribute his time in Japan to work with the PBV before flying back home. This was the first time for him to travel to Japan and also to take part in the disaster relief project. He first contacted the PBV when he was planning a trip to Japan with his cousin and brother and considered adding volunteering experience to h
On the first day with the PBV, he engaged in a photo-cleaning project held in a local authority building in the Tamashima area of Kurashiki. Thousands of photos were damaged by muddy water from the flooding last summer. The local residents handed these precious pieces of their memories of their lives in Mabicho to the local volunteer group working on photo-salvage. The cleaning and drying of the photos need to be done in a timely and careful manner to avoid further damage, and this requires help from many people. Harshil spent the full day cleaning dozens of photos with great concentration and patience. Some members working in the building visited us during the cleaning and were impressed to find that he is from New Zealand and traveled to Kurashiki to help out with the project. At the end of the day’s project, Harshil was offered a surprise gift of locally produced specialties by them!
On his second day, he joined PBV’s house preservation team, which works in houses damaged by the flooding. More than seven months after the disaster, many residents are now waiting for their houses to be cleaned to facilitate the renovation. Harshil worked with other volunteers to remove the damaged building materials and clean the house of a local resident. His work was done carefully and accurately and contributed to the progress of the cleaning project on the house. During the two days of volunteering in Kurashiki, he also had a chance to visit Entsuji Temple, a historical temple with a thatched roof, the likes of which cannot be found in large cities in Japan.