Jul 2011


The start of summer – pool cleaning

Summer has truly reached Japan, and Ishinomaki is becoming hotter and hotter every day, changing the contents of the work of volunteers.

This is the volunteer base in the Shintate district of Ishinomaki, known as “Kasuka”. Formerly a precision machinery factory, this venue is home to up to 120 volunteers at a time.  As in all other Peace Boat bases in Ishinomaki, each day for volunteers begins with a morning meeting and going over safety procedures.

Leading this morning meeting is “Ted.” Living in the United States at the time of the earthquake, Ted decided to return to Japan to support the relief efforts and has now been in Ishinomaki as a volunteer for two months. He is leading the team based at Shintate.

Today’s work venue is just 30 seconds’ walk from Kasuka – a swimming pool!

Although Peace Boat received a request for support to help clean the swimming pool of mud a while ago, it was only now that volunteers were able to work here.

The pool, untouched for the past four months, was full of mud.

At first, the volunteer teams had the difficult task of trying to decide where to begin. Although many of the experienced volunteers had been involved in cleaning many locations throughout Ishinomaki, this was an entirely different task. The group leaders consulted and decided upon a method for clearing, and the work began.

Local children and their parents, who frequented the pool and are looking forward to its reopening, also joined the activities.

With the preparations complete, work started in the front part of the pool. As sunlight reaches this area it is dry, making the work relatively easy. Volunteers used shovels to first lift the mud, being careful not to damage the tiles underneath.

After the dry mud was cleared, volunteered moved in to the more difficult parts at the bottom of the pool, filled with thick liquid like mud.

Although this is very difficult work, sawdust is used to improve this work.

This is mixed in with the mud, to absorb the liquid and make it much easier to clean, as well as to load into bags and dispose of.
The idea of using sawdust in this way was born through cleaning wet drains of mud, and a sawdust maker just 20 minutes away by car is also contributing.


After being mixed with sawdust, the mud is packed into bags and taken to the dumpsite.

Despite the difficult manual work, volunteers worked hard throughout the day.

They were also joined by local kids, who loved using the pool before the disaster and came to help out, in anticipation of the pool reopening.

As they were working, the children chattered amongst themselves saying, “my house was also this full of mud!”, or “we were even just in our socks!”

Thanks to the energy and lively smiles of the children, the volunteers’ work also passed very quickly.
Although the pool cleaning could not be completed just in one day, the volunteer leader Ted said, “hopefully we will manage to finish by tomorrow noon.”

This day’s work was able to clear all but 1/5 of the pool. At the end of the day, the volunteers gave a huge round of applause to the children who helped out, and look forward to working together the following day to complete the pool clearance so that the kids will have this place to play and enjoy themselves as soon as possible.