01
Mar

0

[Western Japan Flooding] Meet the PBV Volunteers! Introducing Michael

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 have 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. This week, 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 Michael from Italy.

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When we first received an inquiry from Michael on the volunteering opportunity, none of us expected this traveler to have such a positive impact on us!

Michael, a professional architect from Italy, joined us in Kurashiki as a part of his first visit to Japan and participated in house cleaning, photo-cleaning, and other onsite projects. He has always been interested in Japanese architecture and wanted to visit buildings in Japan.

On his second day in Kurashiki, he had a chance to visit a traditional Japanese-style house under renovation, which had been previously cleaned by the PBV volunteers. The owner kindly invited us for a coffee and gently told us how much she treasured the house, which was inherited from her ancestors. After seeing her love for the house, Michael couldn’t help but say, “This is the house I have always dreamed to visit. I want to live here”. It was indeed a heart-warming moment for all of us who were there when she replied, “Then you should become my son!”.

He proactively interacted with other volunteers during the work both on and offsite, often providing advice as a professional architect. He also helped us a great deal in shoveling unexpected snow on his first day, taking advantage of his familiarity with snow in his hometown.

Photo by Shoichi Suzuki

He wrapped up his volunteering experience in Kurashiki by saying, “Being a part of this project gave me the experience I could not have gained just by traveling. Meeting other volunteers and residents in Kurashiki gave me strength and energy to move onto my next step. This experience is very important and will accompany me for the rest of my life”.