One day as a volunteer – relief goods storage
Another responsibility of Peace Boat volunteers in Ishinomaki is the operation of storage areas where relief goods donated are kept.
The volunteers work to manage the stock of items and also to facilitate the quick and smooth dispatch of relief goods to evacuation centers and distribution points.
Currently, Peace Boat stores all donated relief goods at the indoor baseball training hall on the Ishinomaki Senshu University campus. Relief goods include food, sanitary goods, household items for everyday use as well as equipment required for sludge and debris removal. Volunteers working at the storage area keep tabs on all items incoming and outgoing. They are also responsible for keeping items stored and separated according to category.
Each volunteer working at the storage area is assigned a category of relief goods for which they are personally responsible. New incoming items have there content checked, and then sorted according to size and weight. The number of items is also noted and kept on record. By taking this approach, the storage area content is managed efficiently. This efficiency allows for quicker response to local needs.
Volunteers stationed in evacuation centers, or working for the hot meals operation will visit the storage area many times during the day to source the goods they require. We are also visited by the locals in search of certain items. The volunteers will ask what items they require and how much thereof. The availability is confirmed and handed over.
All volunteers have been keeping records of visitors, their demographic, what items they required and for what reason, which items were they most pleased with etc… so that this information may be put to good use in the future. New volunteers can refer to these notes and learn what sort of items are preferred and/or useful for different people with different needs. This way, the volunteers may offer advice to any visitor and suggest which items may be useful to them.
Regrettably, there are times when the required item is simply not available. Some items may be damaged, soiled badly, or simply not needed locally.
“Sometimes you will find letters addressed to the survivors of the quake in boxes of donated relief goods. Whomever sent the items express their solidarity with the survivors…really, it made me well up with tears when I came across that letter.” says a storage area volunteer.
We spoke with Mr Kitamura, who is now acting as ‘general manager’ of the storage area.
“A lot of detergent is being distributed this week. It is because water is back in certain areas so the locals are beginning to use their
laundry machines again. Otherwise, there has been high demand for new underwear for both men and women the last couple of weeks.”
Storage area volunteers spend the majority of their time indoors, without too much contact with the outside. Here we asked a volunteer
their thoughts on working here.
“I have to be honest, at first not everybody is too pleased when they hear they have been assigned to the storage area. Once volunteers begin their work here they realize that storage area management is an absolutely fundamental component of the whole relief operation. That is when store area volunteers realize the importance of their function and take pride in it. “