Thursday, June 30, 2011
Light the Way
Hello everyone. I'm finally back in Shinjuku and my suitcase is once again waiting to be unpacked...again.
The sky was this glorious pinkish color a couple of days before I left last week. The roof you see is part Saisho Temple (最勝寺).
Well, some of you may know that I was in Miyagi prefecture last week. I was volunteering in a small town called Yamamoto-cho.
This small town, which had a population of about 16,600 in February of this year, lost over 650 people in the tsunami following the earthquake. That's about 4.0% of the population. That number is so unreal. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose that many people in my city.
The tsunami also swept over 40% of Yamamoto-cho, which covers about 60% of the livable land in this town and over 2,000 houses were completely destroyed. There were also over 1,000 houses that were mostly or partly destroyed.
But hearing about all the numbers and actually seeing the destruction was a whole different matter. Seeing the areas that the tsunami swept over was hard to take in. (You can see pictures of the town a few days after the earthquake on Yamamoto-cho's website here.) The area I saw, there was really nothing left. It was just dirt and grass all along the coast with an occasional building that had hung on. Much of the large rubble that the tsunami left behind or swept back in had already been removed.
There was a feeling of horror and sadness as I looked across the open land. But for me, it's part of the devastation that I saw on TV after the earthquake. And I know for sure that doesn't even come close to what the people of Yamamoto-cho, who grew up along the shores, who walked through the streets, and enjoyed life with family in their homes, would feel when seeing the bare area where their houses used to stand. There really were no words.
And yet this small town is already trying to move forward. The town hall employees have been working non-stop, a volunteer center has been set up at the town hall, where many people come from all over Japan, and even overseas, are able to register to help, and the town has been busy building temporary housing for the people who have had to live in various evacuation shelters around town.
This was my first time volunteering for disaster relief so it was all a new experience. I'm hoping to share a bit of the experience with you in the next couple of posts. (Alerting you of looong posts in advance!) But I'm actually heading back to Yamamoto-cho again this weekend to help out in a different project so my posts may be sporadic, especially since I actually forgot my camera there (silly me!).
I'm trying to figure out if I may have subconsciously just left it there so I'd have a reason to go back. Haha. Well, I'm hoping to get back to regular posts by next week.
So how are you all? Can you believe June is almost over? I hope you're all having a fabulous day!
Enjoy looking at more beautiful skies all around the world here.