Published: April 24th 2012April 11th 2012
So, after something like 25 hours flying I finally made it to Japan. Unlike the last time I came there was literally no line at immigration and it took all of three minutes to get through. Armed with the knowledge of which trains to take and how to get to my hostel I set off from the airport. Boring story short, I made it there fine, got some sleep, next day waited for the bus that would take me to Ishinomaki and played the 'in-transit-sleep-deprivation' game again on the way.
So the name of the organization I'm volunteering with is called It's Not Just Mud (or INJM for short). Here is the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ItsNotJustMud and the website: http://itsnotjustmud.com/. The website has all the information about what they're doing/what they're about in a nicer format than what I can type up here. Go check that out.
So what have I done since arriving? Lots of things! And I've got photos for most of them!
So, first day a large group of us drove about 50 minutes outside the city to join forces with a volunteer centre there. That day we were tasked with cleaning an area
of all man-made objects. On the ground there were a million pieces of glass and it seemed impossible to pick up all of them. We picked up a huge variety of objects: shoyu packets, roof tiles, ceramics, fishing nets, etc. There were also more personal things like a health card, homemade videos and a Winne the Pooh Bear that were quite sad to see.
I've also moved boxes of donations from once place to another, helped to do some last minute wood-chip cleanup for a playground, packaged seaweed, processed seaweed, sorted slate roof tiles and filed small slate stones.
As you're looking at the photos you're probably wondering what those bright red and yellow jumpsuits are that we're all wearing. Well, they were donated to INJM by a previous volunteer and we use them to a) keep warm and b) keep our clothes clean. They're awesome. And yes, we look a little bit like fire rescue people.
But to jump back to the previous paragraph and go into a little more detail...I've spent quite a few days in a small villiage called Funakoshi working with slate. The slate is mined locally and was used for roof tiles
on houses. Since the tsunami a group of local men and women have been making phone straps and necklaces from the slate and selling them as a source of income and to try and use that as a basis for rebuilding the villiage. http://itsnotjustmud.com/projects/local-industry-support/case-study-funakoshi-charm/
Even more recently I helped to clean out an appartment that was partially destroyed when it was hit by the tsunami. See the before and after photos.
At times, working here can be quite sobering. We're surrounded by constant reminders of the tsunami and the work that still needs to be done. At the same time, it's also amazing to see the amount of progress that has been made and it's encouraging to see the people living here are rebuilding.
There are more photos below