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.
The Moriya Fruit and Vegetable Store was the first of the shops in Ishinomaki to reopen on the central street of Ishinomaki, on April 13 – just over one month after the disaster. Of course the situation is still extremely difficult, yet the existence of such stores continuing to open and provide a service to the local community is giving an important hope for recovery. Peace Boat will continue to assist with clearup and recovery efforts in order to support the activities of shops such as the Moriya Fruit and Vegetable Store.
“I really wanted to protect even just this one tree,” said Ms Abe Mayumi, of Niidate in Ishinomaki City. Nine cars were piled up in the large persimmon tree during the tsunami, however because of this tree her house was not swept away, and there was minimal damage to the walls. It was as if the tree protected the Abe’s house and family.
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.
A delegation from Sri Lanka is now on the ground in Ishinomaki symbolising the importance of international cooperation. In 2004, Sri Lanka experienced an enormous tsunami, which caused immense damage to the country. All fifteen members of the group were involved in the relief efforts following the disaster which hit their own country. According to one of them, “the damage from the tsunami is the same. We have experienced the same tragedy, so we understand the distress and the needs of the survivors.”
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.