Peace Boat volunteers are working to clear mud from the local swimming pool, joined together by local children and their parents, who frequented the pool before the disaster and are now looking forward to its reopening this summer.
As northeast Japan is a major fishing area, the tsunami threatened the livelihood for a majority of the population.
In the face of having their boats and fishing areas destroyed, local fishermen and women are now facing the difficult choice of giving up their work or trying to once again continue. Upon request, Peace Boat is now undertaking efforts to help to support those who have decided to stay in the area and continue to try to fish, through helping to gather the different equipment such as nets, ropes and buoys that were dispersed and damaged by the tsunami.
This is a letter from a couple in Ishinomaki thanking volunteers for their assistance in cleaning their shop as a first step towards rebuilding their lives. Thank you to all of the volunteers and to the community in Ishinomaki for their cooperation.
Photographs by Ueno Yoshinori of the situation and clean up activities at the fishing port of Koami Kurahama on the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture (around one hour from Ishinomaki City).
Many places within Ishinomaki still do not have any infrastructure such as electricity, water or gas, however in the central areas infrastructural reconstruction is gradually underway. However, even when running water is restored, the fact that most roadside drains are still filled with mud, sludge and debris has meant that water cannot be used in many cases. Volunteers are now working to clear these drains and ensure that running water can be restored.
The need for many volunteers to assist relief and recovery efforts in Ishinomaki are still crucial, yet the number of volunteers has been decreasing in recent weeks. In order to encourage more volunteers to participate, Peace Boat has revised the conditions for volunteers including the transport costs, required items, meals and so on.
Peace Boat will hold an event in Tokyo on June 12 (Sunday) to report on its activities in Ishinomaki in the three months following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11.
Two months have passed since Peace Boat began actively engaging in the relief effort in Ishinomaki. This series of photos represents the city at its current state. It has taken two months for the mud mud and debris including household goods to be cleared from the shopping area in front of the train station, and shops have slowly begun to open their doors for business in the area, yet full recovery is still a long way away.
Mr Ito started his volunteer stint on April 23, initially with sludge removal. He says he was a complete loss of words at the devastation. The area he once knew was completely unrecognizable.
However, seeing the local people starting up their businesses again and picking up the pieces after the tragedy gave him an immense sense of hope.
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.