Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Simple Smile

I love simple flowers like this. They remind me that the most simple things in life can be the best memories.

My first week in Miyagi was kind of like that. I felt like it reminded me how the simple things can be the most important.

I was there with an NGO group called ADRA Japan and helping at the soup kitchen for the town hall employees of the small town of Yamamoto-cho, who were also victims of the tsunami. (You can read about their various activities here.) I heard that the employees, many who had lost family and homes, had been cooking out themselves but because the town hall needed to operate, ADRA took over and started proving the meals so they could concentrate on the mountain load of work they have waiting for them every day. There were still employees sleeping in their cars in the parking lot or in the town hall and using the baths provided by the Self-Defence Force when I was there.

Most of us volunteers were there for a week and divided into 2 shifts making meals, washing, cleaning...anything that was needed at the time. Needless to say, I am not the greatest cook in the world, but it's amazing what you can put together from the random veggies, canned food, and other groceries that are provided. There was no menu or recipe. Each meal would be decided after checking what we had left in stock and we would all cook various dishes for each meal. After a while, everyone would start getting creative and make bread in the microwave (no oven) or make a dish more tasty by searching through recipes online.

I think the soup kitchen was more than just a place to eat. It was a place where the employees could come in to interact with each other, talk about something other than work, and just relax for a bit before heading back. One of the staff members talked about how when they first set up the soup kitchen, there was little conversation and the atmosphere was very grim. But when I was there, although there were many people who still did not talk about their own experience regarding the devastation or about their families, there were many who would kid around with us, ask us questions about where we were from, or give us advise about how to find the perfect guy (I now know the secret!).

Each smile given to us made our time there have so much meaning. With so many volunteers coming to this small town I know that they won't remember me...but the director of the volunteer center at the town hall always said that "even though we may not remember you, Yamamoto-cho will."

And that is more than enough.


  1. That absolutely made my day. What brave and lovely people you are.

  2. Lovely, pretty flowers indeed! We all need time to enjoy some of the simple things in life!
    Genki de ne!

  3. You have to be proud of being there. Sadly this tragedy almost disappeared from the news, it seems that the interest was kept alive only in expectation of an even worse tragedy, the one around the nuclear reactors.
    I really hope that most of these people are slowly coming back to a life as normal as it gets.
    Keep us posted and take care!

  4. every act you do, be it small or big, anything that would help your fellow countrymen.
    i think that's already a brave act.
    thanks for sharing us your experience there.
    to recuperate from a disaster like this is hard, but to know that at least some of them are being positive, that's good to hear.

    ps: so, what's the secret in finding this guy? ^0^

  5. In simplicity lies the complex... every time.

  6. Beautiful flower picture!

  7. Little things together make great things :)

  8. Beautiful flowers. I think the simple ones are often the most beautiful as well. :)

    PS: I am sending this comment from the comfort of my sofa on my very own internet connection!!!

  9. It was very brave and generous of you to volunteer to help out. And, yes, the simplicity of these flowers is something we need to emulate.

  10. I agree with VP. Not much in the news these days.

    Thank you for putting a smile on my face this morning!

  11. Your action is noble. It must be a great release from stress for them to find somebody who worry about them and are glad to take care of them. The soup kitchen sounds the oasis-like place. I was so moved by your blog.
    Your photos of simple flowers gave my heart warmness and smile. I love those flowers very much. Thanks for sharing.
    Kaori, have a great day!

  12. Simple and serene. By helping others you have gained a lot yourself. All good stuff Kaori. Thanks for sharing this.
    Now you must go and practise what you'd learned from the womenfolk. hehe. Cheers from Montreal.

  13. Lovely... all of it... words, flowers, sentiments. Paulo Coelho said: "It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary." And you, Kaori, are extraordinary.

  14. A very good deed. You know you have made a difference...

    That's a nice photo. I love daisies.


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