Onagawa is one of the small towns that has been knocked down by tsunami on March 11. It is very close to Ishinoamki so we decided to go and pay a visit to this little town. I thought that we would only drive through the town, instead the bus stopped and people got off for a sightseeing opportunity. I personally stayed in the bus . My visits up to northern towns are all about helping out not seeing or validating more damage. Yes, the town was brutally damaged and the heavy machines are still working to clear the rubble around. And yes, it is unbelievably interesting to see everything upside down. But I still find it weird to go and look at it or take pictures of it. It breaks my heart that people have lost all they got and their once upon a lovely town is all ruined. My heart is with all the people of North Japan.
Last year with a couple of teachers and Peaceboat we went up to Ishinomaki to volunteer for Tsunami cleanup. We cleaned up a couple of houses and gardens and built a new gutter. This year American Chamber of Commerce and Nadia organized a volunteering trip to Ishinomaki last weekend. A great way to spend my weekend, helping people. I feel sooo good! Helping other people helps me,too. We cleaned the NagaHama – Long beach (once upon a time, as it is shorter now). We worked all day picking up fishing nets, plastic, rubbish, buoys,etc. A sunny and clear, beautiful day. It’s not your ordinary beach though, it is impossible to walk on without your wellies on, lots of wood with rotten nails on them. Unknown millions of things stuck in the sand…
I could have sit there and clean the pile I have in front of me for many days ahead. At the end of the day the beach was clean enough to walk on with sneakers.
On our second day we visited a Japanese family’s house where they collected donations from all around Japan. We picked the boxes, loaded them on our bus and delivered them to people who are living in a temporary housing facility in outskirts of the city. First we opened the boxes and classified the clothes according to gender and size. Around ten o’clock the community started to drop by. Young, old, men, women, we were surrounded by people who needed new clothes. It is a bit of a strange feeling especially we are living in Japan, a country where people don’t like wearing old clothes, seeing people racing o get second hand clothing. On the other hand seeing a moms of my age with three children by her side trying to find any kind of clothing that would fit her kids regardless of how they look was heartbreaking. Even I when shopping for my three years old niece look at things that she would like or I think would look good on her. But this lady had no choice but only look for the right size that would fit her children.
A very nice and hard experience overall I had. I think it was nice because once more I had to chance people who were in need. It made feel good in many ways. On the other hand it is hard because when I looked around, I thought of how this place will be back to its own feet again and how people will enjoy their city and their lives and when. But seeing the difference between last yeyr and this year in Ishinomaki, I have hope for these people.