The Ishinomaki Kawabiraki (“River Opening”) Festival held on July 31 and August 1. Alongside the people of Ishinomaki, many volunteers including people who came from afar and many who have been helping with the relief operations in Ishinomaki together participated in a variety of events and activities that were held during the 2-day festival. It was very much a home-made festival, with each part carefully and lovingly prepared in the short preparation period.
49 Junior High School students from Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture who travelled through Asia onboard Peace Boat will return to Japan tomorrow (August 4, 2011). The youth ambassadors, from 6 different schools in Minamisoma will return to Japan having completed a 13-day journey to Viet Nam, Singapore and Sri Lanka since their departure from Minamisoma on July 23. A press conference will be held at Narita on August 4.
The affected areas will soon observe the first Obon holiday period since the March 11 disaster. (Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the deceased spirits of one’s ancestors.)
In respect of the feelings of the local community, Peace Boat has decide not to organise volunteer activities during the August 13 – 16 Obon period. We apologise for the inconvenience for those who were planning to volunteer during their own Obon holidays, however thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation at this important time for the people of Tohoku.
Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and British Ambassador to Japan David Warren visited Ishinomaki on July 10.
After meeting with officials at the City Hall, Mr Browne then visited Peace Boat’s Central Kitchen in Ishinomaki together with Mayor Kameyama Hiroshi and Ito Shuki, Chair of the Ishinomaki Disaster Recovery Assistance Council (IDRAC) in order to see the actual activities to support survivors and the recovery of the affected areas.
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Peace Boat volunteers have been assisting in the salvage and repair of ropes, buoys etc in the fishing ports from earlier, and from today also were involved in helping with oyster farming. Two days earlier, as volunteers had been helping together to salvage fishing items, the local fishermen asked Peace Boat if volunteers could also assist them – which was how they came to be involved today. Of course, it was the first time for all volunteers to be involved in oyster farming, so they were full of both nerves and excitement.
A new poetry book by Welsh writer based in Yokohama Jon Mitchell has been published this week, with all sales going to support Peace Boat’s ongoing relief efforts in Tohoku. “march and after – poems from tsunami country” – chronicles life in Japan following the 3.11 earthquake, and is available in limited edition hard cover and e-book version also. See here for more details.
“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.”
After volunteering in Ishinomaki between May 20-28, Mr Sekine Masataka is now active volunteering to support the relief efforts 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.
A volunteer from the UK has launched a project to sell tshirts designed by the children of Minato Primary School in Ishinomaki, with all funds going to Peace Boat’s disaster relief activities – see more details here.
The Nigerian Community living in Japan raised over 2 million yen in donations, designated to be sent via Peace Boat to support the purchase of necessary items for temporary housing in Onagawa, Miyagi. On July 24 at the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Centre in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba staff and volunteers involved in the relief efforts will gather and report about the activities.
With summer vacation coming up soon, the role of student volunteers is extremely important. Yet despite this, the number of student volunteers is unfortunately still quite low.
A group of university students who have volunteered in Ishinomaki are organising an event on July 20 for fellow students to gather and discuss how they can contribute to the recovery efforts, in cooperation with Peace Boat. As a special guest, Mr Bandai Yoshinobu will come from Ishinomaki to share with students his own experiences.