100 days

June 18: 100th day memorial

We approached the 100th day since the tsunami working alongside local neighbors, partner organizations, and multiple groups who have been working  in the field since March.

A 17-member team from Nagoya arrived with GCR on Wednesday. They brought children’s activities and supplies for an English and crafts program.  Led by Amy Newsome, they cleaned homes for the first two days in a neighborhood block close to the Koganehama Community Center.

bare bones

Ishida home

Group shot

Group shot above, with owners of the homes, taken after the first day of cleaning. Comprised of members from six countries, seven regions in Japan, and four organizations/groups.

Samaritan’s Purse generously provided tools, equipment, and oversight – followed by dinner and showers at their home base in Tome, an hour north of Ishinomaki.  The group returned the next day to finish the house cleaning on the block.  This neighborhood didn’t lose anyone to the tsunami, but since their homes were flooded up to the top of the first flight of stairs, evacuated to temporary shelters, homes of relatives, or apartments subsidized by the government. Many return each day to be home and among neighbors. One owner, a fisherman, works out of his back yard each day – with only a cell phone and note pad. He returns each night to a temporary apartment, and is looking forward to working out of his home again soon.

Owners return to ensure that the construction is going as planned. Others want to ensure the government has not written off their property.  And businessmen return to be present regularly to co-workers, business partners, and the community in general.  This particular Koganehama block residents were mostly older folks whose children had already moved elsewhere.  For them, this is home, where they intend to retire and rest their bodies.

All around the neighborhood, there are hundreds of homes waiting to be stripped and rebuilt.  There are not enough hands to do the work, and the carpenters, construction workers, architects are all overworked.  Volunteers help kick-start the work, finishing three days’ worth of labor within a fraction of that time.

On Saturday, the 100th day since the quake, we had an open market and takidashi at the Koganehama Kaikan (Community Center).  The small, one story building was cleaned out by neighbors and volunteer groups earlier this month, and serves multiple purposes: community gathering spot, community cafe (every Monday afternoon), takidashi and volunteer activities; storage for supplies to clean out homes; rest stop for workers.

kaikan open market

yakisoba

The day ended with one of our interns playing the violin at the Buddhist temple after the funeral and 100th day memorial of lost family members.  He also played for the local community members while they waited for us to set up earlier in the day (below).

chad

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