31
May

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Volunteer, Ms Shibata Ayako

Volunteer interview – Shibata Ayako

Volunteer Shibata Ayako lost much of her family in the tsunami. “To understand what the survivors are having to go through. As a volunteer you are in a certain position that is ‘apart’ from the survivors…I feel it is important to bridge this gap.”

30
May

0

Interview with Relief Project Coordinator – “Every little bit helps”

“Every little bit helps. All you need is empathy, to put yourself in the shoes of the survivors,” states Peace Boat staff member Ueshima Yasuhiro. “The area of Chuo-cho, where we first started the clean-up operation, is looking remarkably better now… It is a symbol of what can be achieved through cooperation between the local populace and volunteers. We’ve seen shop owners ready to throw in the towel, believing that there was no future, regain their fighting spirit and open up shop again. Alone, people may become despondent….but bring forces together, and people gain courage. I strongly believe this to be true.”
“They are still so many houses and buildings that need to be cleaned out. The road ahead is long and no where near finished.”

30
May

0

International Cooperation – volunteer team from Sri Lanka

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.”

27
May

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Mr Ito Yoshiaki joined as volunteer in Ishinomaki from April 23 - May 7

Volunteer interview – Ito Yoshiaki

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.

25
May

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Volunteer Coordinator Ueshima Yasuhiro

Interview with Relief Project Coordinator – “as long as the needs exist, it is important to ensure enough volunteers”

“For example, it is so important to make sure that the efforts are sustainable – that we can guarantee to provide meals not only today, but also tomorrow. If the number of volunteers decreases, it will be difficult to maintain the activities we are responsible for at the moment, and so we really want to ask volunteers to continue coming to Ishinomaki. Also, those people who have already volunteered once have a good understanding of the situation and the work itself, and so it is a huge help if people can come to volunteer more than once, also.”

24
May

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Minagawa Sachi

Volunteer interview – Minagawa Sachi

“There are many people gathering here from all over Japan and even overseas to take action together. And of course we are working together with the local people for recovery. Looking at this happening, it is amazing to see what we can achieve together. Although the lives of the town and people will never go back to as it was, the community is working hard to create a new life together. I really hope that I can continue to contribute in some way to this.”

20
May

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Providing hot meals

Interview with Relief Project Coordinator – “Two Months Later”

Peace Boat staff member Ueshima Yasuhiro (29) has been acting as coordinator for the approximately 2000 volunteers that Peace Bot has dispatched to Ishinomaki over these past two months. He’s been stationed in Ishinomaki since just after the quake and has stayed put for the duration. How have the last 2 months been through his eyes? How will the needs and requirements of the volunteers change over the coming weeks and months?

18
May

0

International Volunteers

Over 180 non-Japanese volunteers, or ‘International Volunteers,’ have joined Peace Boat’s relief activities. As a rural town, Ishinomaki does not see many non-Japanese visitors, so the presence of International Volunteers is a source of fascination and encouragement for the locals. As many helping hands as possible is needed in Ishinomaki, and it is important to include non-Japanese in these efforts – both people resident in Japan and from elsewhere. Domestic news coverage of the destruction is on the wane. The presence of the international community still continues to be needed in Japan so that the devastation may not be forgotten, and efforts to rebuild can be continued together.

17
May

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Peace Boat Volunteer Torii Kenta

Volunteer interview – Torii Kenta

Torii Kenta joined the Peace Boat group dispatched to Ishinomaki on April 8. He initially stayed for 3 weeks and found that the area around Ishinomaki train station showed a marked improvement over that time. His faith in volunteerism and the relevance of working there was reaffirmed. He deduces that the factors contributing to this are the increasing number of volunteers and also the fact that many volunteers are staying for longer periods and gaining mastery over the content of their tasks. The whole effort is speeding up and increasing in scope. “I thought the power of human strength is not be laughed at,” he says optimistically.

12
May

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Volunteer information sessions and orientations in Kobe, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka

Volunteer information sessions and orientations in Kobe, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka

The situation in the affected areas remains extremely serious. In Ishinomaki alone, there is a need of provision of 20,000 meals each day, and even at the current rate it will take two years to fully clear the homes of mud brought by the tsunami. Peace Boat will therefore be holding information sessions to call for disaster relief volunteers not only in Tokyo but nationwide throughout Japan. See this post for details.

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