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Action Reports

Action Reports by our staff working for relief work.   English version started from May 1st, 2011.  Japanese version reports before May 1st is available at 活動情報.

HAI(Help Age International) Observation Support

2012/11/28 20:21 に 加藤雄一 が投稿

We supported HAI (Help Age International) 's staff and Japan YMCA union's staff during observation of affected areas on Sunday, November 18, 2012.
The following is Yuji Omura, vice-head of the office's report.

I supported HAI's observation on November 18 (Sunday).3 HAI staff and 1 Japan YMCAunion staff visited.This organization supported our activity in the past but they are especially planning to support elderly people in future.
We visited East Matsushima Hibiki Industrial Complex temporary housing' s meeting place in the morning.We had seen posters for came at 10:00 a.m.While drinking tea, we talked about everyday life to this year from last year in a mixture of English.
We visited Yamamoto town's special nursing home for the aged "Miyamaso" in the afternoon and explained the state of the connected institution's suffering and volunteer activity by the whole country's YMCA Y's men's club.
After that they inspected the JR Sakamoto station, Nakahama elementary school, Yamashita second elementary school and Iwasa strawberry farm. Then they went back to Tokyo.

Receiving of support supplies from San Francisco

2012/07/10 22:23 に 加藤雄一 が投稿   [ 2012/07/10 22:24 に更新しました ]

We received support supplies from Robert Chung who  lives  in San Francisco.
Mr. Chung is a Community Church member.

Support supplies  were packed in 133 plastic pouches . for example crayons, small flashlights, notepads, pencils, pens, mechanical pencils and so on.
Katsuyo Haywerd received those goods  from Robert Chung and sent them to us.

We will search for a good distribution place and give disribute them  to children.

Thank you very much for this  opportunity.

Japan & U.S. YMCA Volunteers worked together

2012/03/20 5:38 に 日下部拓 が投稿   [ 2012/03/20 5:39 に更新しました ]

On Monday March 19, 5 volunteers from Seattle YMCA joined with 7 Japanese YMCA volunteers the “Kyusyu group” (5 Kumamoto and 2 Kitakyushu YMCAs Jr. College students). Together, they worked at the Iwasa Strawberry Farm in Yamamoto-cho. Directors Ohmura & Kusakabe from the Sendai YMCA Volunteer Support Center lead the two groups.

First assigned job was to attach 3 rows of long horizontal metal strips (for tying plastic sheets to the hot house) on the steel pipe framing. It was so windy and the gusts pick up sand just like in sand storms, so everyone got sand in shoes, cloths, hair, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. After lunch, volunteers helped dig out bamboo roots from behind the shed, where it wasn’t as exposed to the sandy gusts as was on the field.

After completed the assigned jobs for the day, Mr. Iwasa showed us one of his hot houses that have been producing berries since early January. He served us freshly picked straw berries, and they were sooo sweeeet!! Everyone couldn’t wait for the shower to wash off the sand.

Tuesday March 20 was supposed to be another working day for the two volunteer groups, but the Iwasa family had an emergency (his 98 years old grand mother passed away Monday morning) so the work at the farm has been canceled. Mr. Ohmura took the Kyushu group, and I took the Seattle group to visit the disaster struck areas.

Seattle Y group went to the Ohkawa Elementary School in northern Ishinomaki where 74 out of 108 students had lost lives in tsunami.  Then the group went up Hiyori-yama, a 200 feet hill from its top the Port Ishinomaki, mouth of Kitakami River, and coastal section of Ishinomaki can be viewed. Everyone was speechless to witness the magnitude of the disaster caused by tsunamis.

Seattle Y group left Sendai in early afternoon heading for Miyako where they will volunteer till 25th. Kyushu group has one more day to work in the area before heading back to their homes in Kyushu. 

World Children’s Art Exhibition & John Ken Nuzzo Concert

2012/03/20 0:26 に 日下部拓 が投稿   [ 2012/03/20 19:44 に更新しました ]

On Saturday March 17, the world famous tenor singer, John Ken Nuzzo’s concert was held at Yamamoto-cho Central Community Center. Despite the heavy rain, approximately 120 audiences enjoyed the powerful and beautiful voice of Mr. Nuzzo.

This concert was made possible by the volunteers of the Tokyo American Club, organized by Sendai YMCA and its three Y’s Men’s Clubs. During the concert, Mr. Nuzzo not only sung his selected songs, but also planned a couple of sing alongs, and the audiences really enjoyed the singing as well.

Along with the concert, an exhibition of children’s painting and messages from 15 countries and areas of the world was organized at the same location. This exhibition was organized by a group called “Skip with Smile” set up in the purpose of encouraging disaster struck children by children of the world. Pictures and messages of children have been displayed at three elementary schools in Ymamoto-cho since mid March, and brought to the Community Center for this day. Many audiences could enjoyed the display before and after the concert.

Mr. & Mrs. Nuzzo and several volunteers from Tokyo American Club wished to take advantage of this opportunity coming up to Sendai area and visit the tsunami struck area. After relaxing night at the oldest inn at Akiu hot springs, the group visited Okawa Elementary School in northern Ishinomaki to pay respect to 74 students that lost lives in 3.11 tsunami. After giving flowers and silent prayers for the victims, the group was joined by a volunteer guide and went to see around the port and destroyed residential area near the sea. In many occasion, participants were just speechless before the magnitude of the disaster vividly witnessed even after a year. The participants of the day trip expressed their desire to do more to help the victims recover and rebuild their lives.

After enjoying delicious local seafood lunch, the group hurried home after an eventful weekend.  

Flying Kite of Hope

2012/03/13 6:00 に 日下部拓 が投稿

On March 11, we flew kites in the early spring sky of Sendai to pray for the tsunami victims, also for the hope for the survivors’ future. 

On the first anniversary of the March 11 disaster, Sendai YMCA joined with many other YMCAs and other organizations world wide to fly kites in memory of those who have lost their lives a year ago, also in prayers for the hopeful future of the disaster struck people in Tohoku. This event was hosted by Sendai Kite Club with cooperation of Sendai YMCA and its 3 Y’s Men & Women’s Clubs (support clubs of the local YMCA).

Message of this kite is "GDP will go up!"
In many communities in Japan, it's been a tradition that a white (plain) kite was flown to announce a death in family, then intentionally cut loose in prayer of letting the evil go from the family. That is the reason people do not fly white kites: they paint or use colorful material but never white.  At 12:30 p.m., the white kites were handed out by the Kite Club members to those gathered, then flown in silent prayers for those who lost their lives in the devastating tsunami last year.

Then at 1:00 p.m., colorful kites were handed out to children and families gathered, many brought their hand made kites as well, and all the colorful kites filled the March sky in prayers for hopes. Members of the Kite Club brought variety of kites: for examples, long kites of 100 little kites of rainbow color made a huge arch in the sky, while a big “GDP” kite sending a message “the economy goes up!”
Volunteers organized the "Kite of Hope" event

Flying kite is such a simple play, but when many fly them together in prayer, they send a bold message in the sky. At 2:46 p.m. when the earthquake hit Tohoku, little over 100 people gathered all brought their kites in and joined hearts in silent prayers for the victims.

It was a very meaningful tribute to the lost lives, also a promise of hopes for continuous recovery and rebuilding of lost communities. 

P.s  My apology for particularly poor quality photos this time: it's really hard to take pictures of kites in the sky with bright background and impossible to focus with a tiny digital camera!

Osaka Higashi Y's Volunteers worked full 2 days

2012/03/11 23:08 に 日下部拓 が投稿

On March 8th & 9th, 5 volunteers from Osaka Higashi YMCA came and had full 2 days of works.

On 8th, the group arrived at Sendai Airport in the morning, was welcomed by Mr. Ohmura, a support staff from Hiroshima YMCA. Mr. Ohmura took the group to see the tsunami struck areas of Matsushima, Nobiru, and Ishinomaki: how the communities were destroyed and recovered so far.  Then, the group went to the YMCA Ishinomaki Center that Tokyo YMCA established.  They helped carry some donated goods to a local elementary school.

On 9th, I also joined the group and 7 of us went to Yamamoto-cho, the south most town of Miyagi coast (southern neighbor is Fukushima prefecture). We helped Mr. Iwasa’s strawberry farm in the morning, connecting & lying steel pipes hooked in anchor eyes driven into the soil, to assemble the base section of the warm house (photo).  Although there are a few farmers reestablished strawberry farms in the town, they are all hydroponics while Mr. Iwasa is the only farmer planting on soil and insisting on organic farming.  He brought out some big and sweet berries he picked early in the morning, and that was a real treat! Mr. Iwasa shared with us his passion for organic (and "on the soil") farming. 

After lunch at a local restaurant (help boost the local economy) the group went to Sakamot Elementary School to help display pictures and hand written messages from 15 countries and areas.  This picture message project is organized by a group of ladies called “Egao de Skip (skip in smile)” and YMCA has been help arranging the schools and community center for display. Osaka 5 did a great job utilizing their artistic sense to decorate the room pretty.

After full 2 days of work, the Osaka 5 headed home on red-eye highway bus. This makes their third volunteer trip to this area since last summer, and we are very appreciative for their commitment for continuous support regardless of the long distance between us. 

Message from Kids in Kumamoto to Nobiru Elm. School

2012/01/25 20:26 に 日下部拓 が投稿   [ 2012/01/25 20:30 に更新しました ]

Mr. Yoshio Teraoka, Associate General Secretary of Kumamoto YMCA who has been serving at Sendai YMCA Volunteer Support Center as the first support staff arranged by the National Council of YMCAs of Japan from June through August, came to deliver messages from the students of Isshin Elementary School in Kumamoto to the children of Nobiru Elementary School in Higashimatsushima. He also brought a young staff member, Mr. Taishi Inomata to see the current situation of the Tsunami-affected areas by his own eyes to help boost the support effort at Kumamoto YMCA. 

On Tuesday 1/24, Mr. Ohmura and myself from the Volunteer Support Center took them to the Older People’s Facilities by the coast in Yamamoto-cho where over 80 people had lost lives in Tsunami, Yuriage District in Natori City, then to Arahama District in Sendai. The coastal areas are still far from recovery: removal of debris and demolishing destroyed structures are mostly completed, yet nothing has been built and there is no sign of human activity ten months after the disaster, indicates the magnitude of the destruction. 

On Wednesday 1/25, I took them to Nobiru Elementary School at their newly built temporary school building in Higashi-matsushima. Principle Ms. Kijima shared with us the current conditions and challenges of the school, students, and their community, then took us to 2nd grader’s classroom. When Mr. Teraoka handed the messages and drawings from the 2nd graders of Isshin Elementary School to the class leaders, students came up with a lot of interesting questions about Kumamoto. They loved the messages. 

After our visit, we went to the destroyed school building of Nobiru Elementary School near coast, where the gym was the designated evacuation center by city and over 100 people, students and the residents in the community, lost their lives by tsunami gushed into the gym on 3/11.
The 8 feet high water mark on the wall was still visible inside the gym. We also went to see the coastal areas of Minami Sanriku-cho. Most of the debris removed and buildings demolished, covered by fresh snow, the coastal towns and villages seemed very clean. But, there is almost no sign of human activity except for many construction equipments and dump trucks moving around, reminds us the seriousness of the damage these communities had taken, and the long way ahead for recovery. Yet, witnessing slowly growing lines of buoys for farming Wakames, oysters, scallops, and silver salmon off shore in the bay, they are telling us the town people’s strong will and sure steps for recovery. 

The 1st. Family Camp for Minami Sanriku-cho

2012/01/16 2:59 に 日下部拓 が投稿

During the weekend of January 14 & 15, the first Family Camp for Minami Sanriku-cho sponsored by the Mitsubishi Corporation and organized by Sendai YMCA Volunteer Support Center took place in Akiu Hot Spring, Sendai.

33 participants from 11 families (including 15 students from 4 elementary schools) have participated in the two day program, lead by 5 Sendai YMCA and 3 Sendai YMCA Volunteer Support Center staff members.

On Saturday, participants were picked up at several rally points through out Minami Sanriku-cho, then headed to “Marinepia Matsushima” in Matsushima-cho. After lunch, participants enjoyed the displays of many sea creatures from all over the world as well as from the local coast. The purpose of visiting this place was that, by witnessing the recovery of once Tsunami-destroyed facility, they too would be encouraged to face their daily challenges. From the conversation with many participants, we’ve learned that this purpose was fulfilled. Then the chartered bus took us to Akiu Hot Spring in the snow. Participants enjoyed bathing in the hot spring before a gorgeous full course dinner prepared by the Chefs of the hotel. There was a fun recreational time for everyone after dinner, followed by evening gathering for grown ups as a free choice. Four parents showed up and enjoyed the grown ups’ conversation which became very rare occasion since their new lives at the temporary housings.

Sunday morning, many participants enjoyed another hot spring bathing before and/or after breakfast. At the temporary housing units, the very small baths do not have reheating function which standard bath units usually have, so by the time the last family member takes it, the water is lukewarm or even cold. That is why we wanted to bring them to the hot springs hotel where they can enjoy the long hot bath as many times as they can manage. It was a big treat for the participants. After leaving the hotel, there was a free family time at a shopping mall in Rifu, also visiting the Shinkansen (bullet trains) depot as a free choice.

It has been a very short, but fun and relaxing weekend for the families that went through so much in the last 10 months. Thanks for the Mitsubishi Corporation for their financial support, also the National Council of YMCAs of Japan and Sendai YMCA for their generous support that made this family camp possible. 

Christmas Camp for Children & Family of Minami Sanriku-cho

2011/12/28 3:54 に 日下部拓 が投稿

From December 25 through 27, a Christmas Camp was held at Akiu Hot Springs Resort Hotel Crescent in Sendai with 47 elementary school students from 4 schools in Minami Sanriku-cho,  10 family members.  The program was lead by a team of 2 program directors and 10 well- trained, experienced college volunteers from Kobe YMCA, a director and 2 staff members from Sendai YMCA Volunteer Support Center, totaling 72 participants in 3 day/2night camp funded by the Mitsubishi Corporation.

The Kobe YMCA team arrived in Sendai in the morning of Christmas Eve by “red-eye” highway bus. They spent the day preparing for the camp at Sendai YMCA, where they spent the night. On the Christmas day, camp staff and leaders drove to Minami Sanriku-cho and picked up the participants at several meeting places, then headed to Sendai. On the way to the hotel, the group stopped for a short walk to observe “Pageant of Lights” on Jozenji Avenue in Sendai.

On 26th, Peter Draw, an artist from Singapore, came to visit the children in the morning with encouraging message: “With one stroke of line, you can make yourself happy, and make other people happy too!” Peter taught children draw pictures of their dreams, and they really enjoyed the time. Then, everyone went outside to make snowmen and had a big snowball fight in the fresh snow. In the afternoon, children made wooden accessories with guest instructors, then listened to some old indigenous stories told by local ladies. After dinner, children made their own Santa Claus hat and enjoyed the Christmas games while receiving some belated Christmas gifts.

On December 27th, everyone enjoyed a 10 minute slide show whipped up by Kuro Leader, a Kobe YMCA staff with the photos from the three day camp; they discussed and wrote about the impression of the camp; made a big thank-you-card for the hotel people before leaving the hotel.

It was a short, but very enjoyable three days, and everyone felt they could use another couple of days at camp. Participants went home with new friends, new inspirations, and new courage to face the next day’s challenges. Many thanks to all the people who made this camp possible!

Osaka Higashi YMCA Threw a Tako-Par

2011/11/29 5:41 に 日下部拓 が投稿

Ms. Ayako Ishimuro ("Tirol") with her ten colleague volunteer leaders and Ms. Emi Suzuki, the Executive Director of Osaka Higashi YMCA have thrown a "Tako-Par" or "Takoyaki Party" at Shizugawa Shizen-no-ie Temp-Housing complex in Minami Sanriku-cho on Sunday, November 27th.

Taking a red-eye highway bus from Osaka and arriving at Sendai station on Saturday morning, the twelve from Osaka wasted no time and began prepping for the Tako-Par.  Takoyaki is a kind of bread balls with chopped octopus and condiments cooked on a special "Takoyaki plate" (an iron plate with a bunch of golf-ball-sized dimples), topped with thick sauce and dried bonito flakes, and Osaka is known for this delicacy.

About twenty children: from kindergarten to middle school, that participated in Day Camps and other YMCA activities during the summer, came out and helped the Osaka Twelve cook and serve Takoyakis. 

Mr. Koichi Shimizu, the Board Chairman of Sendai YMCA (Sendai Aoba Y's Men's Club) brought Mr. Tsutomu Ohno, a member of Kobe Port Y's Men's Club with his two colleague school teachers. Mr. Ohno served freshly dripped coffee and lead some songs with his guitar. Since 10:00 a.m. when we began serving, there was always a long line of people waiting for their Takoyaki, and they all enjoyed conversing with the young volunteers form Osaka while waiting.  There was a Grand'ma who said it was her first time being able to laugh so much after the March 11th tsunami disaster, and we felt very happy to make these people happy. 

All 500 servings of Takoyakis (6 pieces per serving) are completely gone by 1:30 p.m. Many thanks for Mr. Hiraku Watanabe for allowing us to use his large tent, Mr. Wataru Onodera for donating propane gas with regulators for the day, and Mr. Sato and other parents and residents for pitching in to help in various tasks. And most of all, thanks for the twelve dear friends from Osaka for their passion and commitment: you've really made difference in many people's lives! 

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