05
May

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One day as a volunteer – mud removal

One month after the earthquake and tsunami hit, Peace Boat launched a programme together with four other organisations as the local needs moved from emergency relief to support for recovery of the city of Ishinomaki. Together with the local Social Welfare Council, ap bank, and Megumi Japan, the “Smile Project” was launched. Since its beginnings one and a half months ago, mud and debris have been cleaned from more than 200 individually owned residences and businesses.

This blog shows the activities of a volunteer team working on these activities, with volunteers of all ages who have come together from around Japan and beyond.

morning exercises

Volunteers assemble at 7:30 in the morning for preparatory exercises. As the last day for the fifth weekly group of volunteers, the group was particularly energetic.

preparing for work

The volunteers are divided into teams of five to six people for the week, and transported by car to their allocated work places for the day.

Each volunteer is equipped with full safety gear, including masks, headlights and gloves, and tape at the top of their boots to prevent mud from entering. Once all team members are fully prepared, the work begins.

Each team is divided into a different area, working on the clean up of homes or businesses.

This team was working to clear mud and debris from a local hairdressing salon.

First, all equipment and furniture is brought outside, and then the cleaning begins.

After all is cleared, finally the area is washed down with water.

Volunteers are also asked by the local community to help with cleaning parking areas or water drains.

Teamwork is vital during this work, with all members working together and supporting each other.

Some cleanups can be completed in half a day, while other locations can take several teams days to work on together. While the contents of each job is different, each gives a great sense of accomplishment as owner, who has requested the assistance of volunteers in the cleanup, is given hope by the cleanup of their home or business.

“The tatami straw mats were so heavy with water and mud. Each mat weighed around 100 kg. Thanks to the help of these strong young people, it was so fast! They have all come from so far away to help. We are so grateful”, says this woman out the front of her newly clean shop.

Once one job is complete, the team moves on to the next location where a local has requested support in clean up.