Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Report on Relief Efforts in Iwate Prefecture

We at Second Harvest Japan (2HJ) have been committing ourselves to relief efforts in Iwate prefecture and other affected areas since late March. Currently, we bring in truck-loads of relief supplies such as food mainly to Ofunato city every other week. Three local volunteer groups in the city have been energetically working in collaboration with 2HJ.

One of them is Ofunato Support Network Center (OSN-C), a volunteer group organized by local volunteers. Their main activities are to obtain relief supplies, distribute them, arrange volunteers, and organize regular events to rejuvenate Ofunato city. Their "Yappeshi" festival on May 29 attracted more than 2,000 people.

Face painting at "Yappeshi" festival

Poster of "Yappeshi" festival held on July 10

2HJ's COO Otake (fifth from left) and OSN-C staff members

Another volunteer group is "Sansan no kai."

The group, led by a local Italian restaurant owner, makes 2,000 meals every day and distributes them to evacuation centers and temporary houses. As the owner's unique characters attract more and more volunteers, the group's activities are expanding. Predicting that more and more evacuees will move to temporary houses from evacuation centers, the restaurant owner spoke sincerely about his determination to protect elderly people who live alone from dying a solitary death by visiting them regularly to bring his group's meal.

"We won't be overcome by tsunami", a slogan put on the window of RIAS Hall, which accommodates the base of Sansan no kai

Cooking in the kitchen

HJ's COO Otake (second from left) and Sansan no kai members

The last group 2HJ has been collaborating with is All Hands. All Hands is a US-based non-profit organization specializing in providing support for survivors of natural disasters around the world. To assist survivors of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a lot of volunteers from all over the world have been cleaning up debris in Ofunato city and Rikuzentakata city. Local people say that they are encouraged very much by those volunteers who come all the way to Japan and work consistently and diligently. 2HJ distributes food to Rikuzentakata city in cooperation with All Hands.

At an evacuation center

At the base of All Hands

2HJ will strengthen the collaboration with the three groups and aim at the introduction and building of a food bank in the community. 2HJ's support for Ofunato city should not be temporary, and from a long-term standpoint, establishing a locally initiated, sustainable framework is important. To accomplish this, 2HJ will continue to collaborate with more local volunteers and organizations.

2HJ has so far received considerable emergency aid from a number of people, and your donation money will be used for distributing relief supplies to the affected areas and building the food banking system.

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