Jun 2011


Relief goods for temporary housing in Onagawa

Three months since the tsunami and earthquake, Peace Boat’s relief activities are being diversified more and more to respond to the evolving needs of the community in the affected areas. One new element is supporting the moves of survivors into temporary housing, and trying to ensure that the environment in this housing is comfortable and liveable.

Some survivors are now starting to move from evacuation shelters in schools, community centres and gyms to temporary housing. Various NGOs and NPOs are involved in supporting efforts to provide the facilities in temporary housing in the areas in which they are active. Peace Boat is responsible for supporting the temporary housing in Onagawa, a town 30 minutes from Ishinomaki City.

1300 temporary homes are planned for construction in Onagawa, and Peace Boat has now completed the delivery of relief goods to support new lives for people moving into 250 of these such houses. On the day of this entry (originally written on June 19), deliveries were made to 94 temporary homes in the Shimizu district of Onagawa. These items included sleepwear such as futons and blankets, and home goods such as for cleaning, washing and cooking, all generously provided by the supermarket chain SEIYU.

The entrance to temporary housing in Shimizu district, Onagawa

Woolen blankets for delivery

Boxes of homewares donated for the temporary housing

There are 94 temporary homes constructed in this district, for 250 residents. The local authorities select who to be allocated to these homes through a random process, and as soon as their names are called survivors are able to move in from the following day. Thus, the items are carried quickly but carefully into the newly constructed houses.

First, futons, sleepwear, cleaning and washing items, kitchen items and everyday housewares are unloaded from the trucks.
These items are absolutely necessary for the new lives, and are carried in the following way to ensure that they are in pristine condition when the residents move in.

Items are unloaded from the truck following instructions of the coordinating staff

Each box is then individually carried

The destination for each box is carefully confirmed

Relief supplies for the temporary housing also includes furniture such as tables

From there, the relief goods are delivered to each house. The volunteers also unpack the goods and set up the furniture ready for use.

Next comes the sleepwear such as futons. Imagining the survivors being able to sleep comfortably in their new homes is of course a great motivation for the volunteers in their work.

These items have been donated by World Vision, which is also providing relief goods for many other regions.
Each futon has an individual message included together.

The message reads, "wishing for recovery as soon as possible"

Evacuees also came to observe the work, saying to themselves "it's so clean, isn't it! I hope that we will also be selected..."

During the past three months living in evacuation centres, it has been difficult for survivors to find an environment to be together as a family, such as to sit down for meals together even. Through moving into these houses, families can once again sit together around the dinner table and shift towards having some kind of privacy once again.

The Peace Boat staff member writing this entry has also recently moved from 2 and a half months living in tents to a room with a roof and walls, feeling a great sense of relief and comfort through this. Just imagining how the survivors will feel having their own space after such a long time int he evacuation centres makes the moving efforts go quickly and happily.

Cooking equipment is laid out on the dinner table – all new items generously donated.

In the letterbox of each room is a set of paperwork for registering their new addresses.

The day of delivering items while imagining new life in these temporary homes comes to an end. After carefully laying out each fo the relief goods, the 40 volunteers take a break while sitting on cardboard boxes, after a hard day’s work.

The construction and residents moving in to this temporary housing is of course a big step towards recovery, which should be celebrated. However, temporary housing is by its very nature “temporary.”

Currently, there are in fact many survivors who choose not to move into the temporary housing even if they are selected. The primary reason for this is that the policies and methods for support after moving into the temporary housing has not yet been made clear, meaning survivors are unsure about their future if they move.

While staying in evacuation centres, survivors have access to meals each day. However, follow up securing meals and so on for survivors after moving into temporary homes is not yet confirmed in all areas.
There are also many other issues which need attention, such as the problem of “dying in isolation” that was tragically seen very often in the temporary housing built following the Great Hanshin Earthquake.
Peace Boat is continuing to work with the local authorities each day to address these issues, considering what role we as an organisation and our volunteers can play.