Apr 2011


Minato Cafe – A Much Needed Place of Rest and Relaxation

A makeshift café has opened up on the Minato Primary School campus by the Peace Boat team of volunteers to create a space for relaxation and respite for evacuees and nearby residents. Appropriately named “Minato Café” after the school.

The school administrative body and local legislature were consulted before commencing operations. Everything is free of charge and the idea was formulated by Peace Boat team members based there. The suggestion came from seeing local people having to eat standing up because there wasn’t enough space to sit down. By creating a café space, the same venue (the school gymnasium) may be transformed into a place for relaxation and some much needed communication and camaraderie.

The number of Peace Boat volunteers in Ishinomaki has increased from 20 or so 3 weeks ago to 90 persons this week, including volunteers from all walks of life – chefs, chiropractors etc, – different professionals with different skills whom can all contribute in their own way. A chiropractor volunteer has spent his evenings offering massages to the evacuees, and has single-handedly massaged more than 70 people over three days!

Journalists have arrived as well. From “Aera” magazine in Japan, two writers came on a 4-ton truck loaded with relief goods. The World Food Program donated some large scale tents and prefabricated storage structures for Peace Boat’s use in Ishinomaki. Italian technicians came with the tents to instruct on how to erect these super-durable structures.

The increase in numbers of volunteers is very good news indeed. However, owing to this growth in capacity, local operations are becoming increasingly complex. The Ishinomaki local authority is currently drawing up a guideline for any groups or persons providing meals within the city, so that the operations may be standardized across the board and monitored in order to provide the smoothest and most effective operations for all.

Over the past 2 weeks more than 1500 persons have joined the Peace Boat Relief Project orientation sessions in Tokyo. This week, we have dispatched 100 volunteers to Ishinomaki. Volunteers are also helping out with operations in Tokyo.