We have heard voices from Ishinomaki such as “please spread the word to the volunteers who helped us, about the vegetables that have grown so big.” It’s been months since our last report, and we would like to share the latest story about the “vegetable gardens we helped cultivate.” Peace Boat has been helping people in Ishinomaki cultivate vegetable gardens since November 2011.
The Onagawa Temporary Shopping Avenue consists of eight shops that provide support for local residents’ daily life and employment. The shops include a florist, beauty salon, electrical shop, grocery shop and others. Peace Boat’s volunteer carpenters provided support to complete the expansion of the shopping avenue, which began operating in July 2011. As time passed, additional needs for things such as outdoor display shelves and a more cheerful interior so that more customers will visit have risen, aiming for the Shopping Avenue to sustain its business.
Little by little the work was done daily, and after a few months, the Shopping Avenue is now looking like a tiny shopping mall, with even a courtyard for holding small events. Peace Boat will continue to provide regular maintenance work, as well as installing solar power panels and insulation.
A group of young participants onboard Peace Boat’s 73rd Global Voyage in 2011 took the initiative to start a new project, considering what each individual can do for Tohoku. They decided to just take pen and paper, and collect messages of love for Tohoku from across the world, in a project they called “Hope for Japan 2011.”
“Oraho’s experience” (“my experience” in Tohoku dialect) is a new volunteer programme launched in 2012, in which participants can interact more with local people in the disaster affected areas by talking, eating, and sleeping together, not just working together. Peace Boat initiated this programme in the hope that participants can gain a rich experience based on direct personal connections with the local community, and that this programme can bring people closer together and inspire more ideas for the future.
This article features an interview with Komori Shizu, a participant in the 2nd program held in Oginohama, and local fisherman Fushimi Kaoru who hosted her.
The fishing village of Funakoshi sits on the northern side of the Ogatsu Peninsula, about a one-hour drive from central Ishinomaki. Today, there is no sight of children at the Funakoshi Primary School, where the 17m-high tsunami flooded up to the 3rd floor. In the school building, however, you can hear the laughter of the ‘Funakoshi Ladies’ in their workshop, furnished with tatami-mats in the hallway.
The ‘Funakoshi Ladies’ now famously make and sell necklaces and cellphone straps made from Ogatsu Stone, as well as “Kai-no-Netsuke (shell charms)”, a popular charm for happiness in marriage.
As Peace Boat volunteers went around distributing copies of the “Kasetsu Kizuna Shimbun” newspaper, the residents of these facilities often shared their troubles with us. It was their voices which inspired the volunteers to start creating maps of the local area, bus schedules and information about other local services for the communities living in temporary housing facilities.
Messages of support for the Ishinomaki Technical High School competing in the national high school baseball championships!
Thank you so much for such warm support from around the world. Please see below for messages from the Ambassadors of Panama and Cuba to Japan, as well as former MLB player Bobby Valentine.
Peace Boat conducts Disaster Relief Volunteer Training both in Japan (in Tokyo and the earthquake and tsunami affected areas of Ishinomaki, Miyagi) and onboard its ship throughout global voyages. This onboard programme not only equips participants with the knowledge and skills to volunteer in a disaster situation, but also gives them first hand experience of disaster mitigation and relief programmes around the world. This video shows the programme onboard and in Cuba during Peace Boat’s 75th Global Voyage, 2012. A film by Chloe White
A total of 150 people joined volunteer activities to shovel snow in 30 locations throughout Ojiya City, Niigata Prefecture. This report outlines their achievements and interviews a volunteer and a coordinating staff about their experiences and the system now in place for coordination of disaster relief volunteers through Peace Boat.
Thank you once again to all those who took part and supported this project.
After going to Ishinomaki as a member of Peace Boat’s advance team in March 2011, then working as a volunteer coordinator in Tokyo, Takeda Nobuhiro is now working to coordinate support for Fukushima. He himself is also from Fukushima – from Koriyama City, also deeply affected by the 3.11 disaster. This interview tells of his activities in Ishinomaki, coordinating in Tokyo, and planning ongoing support for Fukushima including youth temporary evacuation projects and opportunities for dialogue amongst citizens.