It’s been a tough weekend. Myself and two friends spent a week preparing for the second run up north, delivering supplies to the shelters. Japan as a country is very much like a large ship. It takes time to change direction, but once there it can move with tremendous power and speed. It had been only a week since the first time I went up but life was improving in small, almost invisible steps. I haven’t had time to put up any photos or even get a good night’s sleep, but here’s a few random things I saw in the worst hit areas that convinced me Japan is now back on the road towards recovery:
- At a shelter in Ishinomaki I saw dozens of volunteers cooking and helping organizing a shelter in a local high school. The volunteer were able to take over from the exhausted local teachers and staff that had been continuously looking after the refugees since day one.
- I saw a mailman entering a refugee shelter of about 300, pausing at the noticeboard while looking for the recipients of his mail at the long list of people staying there. It was incredibly touching to see that these mailmen will carry on in their mission no matter what.
- In Kesennuma we met a ferry at the harbor, having just resumed scheduled trips to and from the offshore islands to the mainland. It was almost surreal to see the ticket booth and the vending machine set up in the middle of a city that just four weeks ago were hit by a 20m tsunami and which burnt for 4 days.
- I saw many more people smiling than crying.
- Preparations for school start was underway in many small towns. Some of the schools were still covered in oil and mud, but volunteers had arrived and were working hard to clean up the debris.
More photos and stories to come, once I have had some rest.