Tokyo volunteer interview
“After I volunteered in Ishinomaki, I wanted to make sure it didn’t just end as a ‘good experience’ and I wanted to keep doing as much as I can even back in Tokyo.”
Mr Sekine Masataka
After volunteering in Ishinomaki between May 20-28, Mr Sekine is now active volunteering to support the relief efforts from Tokyo.
There are many ways to support the relief and recovery process from Tokyo. Many people felt that they wanted to contribute something immediately after the earthquake, and yet many people are have not been able to directly go to the disaster affected areas due to work duties or physical capacity. Peace Boat has many opportunities for such people to support the activities even from in Tokyo.
For example, volunteers are involved in the setting up and registration of volunteer information and orientation sessions, seeing off the volunteers by bus to Ishinomaki, and other administration and office work. Many people come to Peace Boat’s center in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba to join these activities each day.
One of the most important ways to support from in Tokyo is through fundraising. Peace Boat collects donations on the streets of Tokyo and other cities throughout Japan, which are used directly for providing meals in Ishinomaki, and for costs involved in purchasing and transporting relief goods. Mr Sekine, now working as a leader of volunteers in Tokyo, says that the work for such people is to take the feelings of support of the people on the streets of Tokyo to the people of Tohoku.
The words that Mr Sekine received from survivors when helping at an evacuation centre in Ishinomaki have stayed with him, and are now his motivation for actively staying involved in the relief efforts. “I can’t let the experience just end there. After coming back to Tokyo, the most difficult thing was when people just walked straight past us when we were on the street collecting funds.”
On July 8 (Fri), 28 students from Toyama High School in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district visited Peace Boat to learn about the relief activities. Following that, Mr Sekine shared with them a talk, and they went out together to fundraise at Takadanobaba train station. Dividing into smaller groups and practising how to call for funds, the students worked together to raise funds, despite looking somewhat shy. Afterwards, they said “we were glad to be able to do something to connect directly to the relief.”
The support efforts are only able to continue thanks to the cooperation of many people, in Tokyo, Tohoku and around the world. As the needs in the affected areas are changing every day, ongoing support is still needed from Tokyo. Although the contents of their work and the location is different for volunteers in Tokyo and Tohoku, both are vital for the recovery process.