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RMF Japan Relief Partner Update:

Tales from Ishinomaki

April 11, 2011 - Japan

by Keiko Kiyama, JEN Secretary General

I returned from Ishinomaki on early morning yesterday. Being faced with the familiar outlooks of my hometown after getting off a highway, I was surprised. While devastating conditions in the Tohoku region go on, everything seems to have been back to normal here in Tokyo except for sporadic power supply cuts.

photo: Coordination meeting in Ishinomaki City, 7am every day (Photo copyright JEN)

What surprised me most was that there was neither mud nor trash on the roads. Regardless of the fact that people must live in extremely inconvenient circumstances, silently remove sludge with terrible odor around, spend night in freezing emergency shelters even today.

We have been assisting and surveying the region from 20th March to 4th April from our base in Sendai and Ishinomaki. I always feel beaten down when visiting the areas most devastated by the tsunami such as Ishinomaki, Higashi Matsushima, Minami Sanriku, and Ogatsu in Ishinomaki. Whenever I visit Ishinomaki Municipal Center, hard feelings repeatedly come up to my mind. But, it is not even comparable to the hardships experienced by those affected by the disaster.

There are parents who have lost all 3 of their children at once, people that cannot forget the voices calling out for help from the roof tops of the houses being swept away, those that that have lost both sisters and mothers at once; days start and end with numerous feelings of sorrow hidden inside peoples` hearts.
I wish to improve the conditions of the people affected by this disaster as soon as possible! As if someone scorns my jittery feelings, every day passes slowly; Our volunteer fellows are going around the community, removing sludge from each house, and providing soup kitchens.
We can only step forward one step at a time, so we go forward step by step.

Although the life in the emergency shelters is hard, it is better than the life of affected people staying in their own houses. This is because supplies are being distributed to shelters. Why don’t the supplies reach the hands of needy people despite the overflow of relief supplies in the warehouses? Because of no gasoline, no trucks, no sufficient manpower, no information… Stop making excuses and keep working on our relief efforts. Next time, my report will cover updates on the situation up to the point where the relief supplies reach affected people.

If you are interested in donating to the earthquake/tsunami relief efforts with our partner JEN in Japan, click here

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