ASIA NOW ―アジアの現場から

Asians helping Tohoku 2012 #L1

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5 volunteers from Malaysia, China and Vietnam joined volunteer activities in Tohoku from August 7th to 13th. They helped local people working in fishery at Ishinomaki city in Miyagi prefecture.

We are posting pictures on our facebook page.



◆KEOH from Malaysia◆
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Q:What impression did you have on Tohoku after 1.5 year of disaster?
When we arrived in Sendai, we enjoy the fresh air and beautiful view in Sendai. It is hard to imagine that this area was affected by earthquake one and half year before. But when we had chance to visit the rural area in Tohoku, I really can't believe what I saw. It is really difficult to imagine the power to nature that can destroy everything, unless you see with your own eyes. We went to a village, in front of my eyes is a really beautiful view, mountain and lake; but from my back, the houses were destroyed by tsunami and the rebuilt processes are still going on. Even after 1.5 year of disaster, Tohoku is not yet fully recovered, Tohoku still needs our helps.

Q: Please describe your experiences and tell us your reflection of them.
I was in charging in making hole on the shell. Fishermen will assemble the shells and put them into sea. These shells act as the shelter for baby oysters. In this volunteer program, I had chance to go oyster farm in the middle of sea. Beside that, the villages are so friendly and kind, they prepared fresh sashimi for our lunch everyday. We always have a good time during this volunteer program with the villagers.
Another impressing story is about Yuki-chan. She is the only youngster working in the village. She told us, everyday she wakes up at 3am and helping his father. Nowadays, many youngsters will leave the village and work in the city. But she decided to stay in the village, so I was so impress by her decision.

Q: What did you learn from Tohoku and what would you like to suggest to your country people in case of natural disasters that might happen in your country?
I think we need to have a better education to educate people on the basic knowledge about natural disasters and how to respond during emergency. It is because prevention is better than cure.

Q:Your message to the people of the world.
Let's take some of our free time to help people who need our helps. You will feel meaningful when they reply you with their great smile. Tohoku needs us!

>>Message in Mother tongue (PDF)

◆XIN from China◆
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Q:What impression did you have on Tohoku after 1.5 year of disaster?
去年9月に訪れた被災地より、大分綺麗になりましたし、復興の雰囲気も感じられました。そして、ボランティア活動で接してきた被災者たちは元気で、前向きに生産活動に励んでいることは何よりです。しかし、あちこちに廃車や瓦礫の山が偶に目に入ってきますし、津波でぼろぼろになっている建物も被災した当時のままであちこちに点々としていますので、東北への支援はまだまだ力を入れていかなくてはならないと思いました。

Q: Please describe your experiences and tell us your reflection of them.
私たちはカキ養殖の支援という活動に参加し、カキ養殖のための最初の段階であるホタテの貝殻に穴あけの作業をしました。単純な作業と思いながら、処理しなければならない量が多くて、毎日の作業時間も限られていて、人手はまだまだ足りないと実感しました。 村の方々は非常に親切で、毎日の昼ごはんに、朝獲った新鮮な魚を刺身や焼き魚或いは魚ハンバーグにしてくださり、また作業の時も冷たい飲み物やお菓子を用意してくださいました。そして、一緒に食事をする時に、お互いに駄洒落を交えながら会話を交わしましたので、家族のような団らんのひと時ができました。 それから、被災地において、支援活動をしているNGOやNPOの方々、そして(ボランティア活動をされていた)リコーや武田薬品などの企業の人にも接するチャンスができ、このような方々からいっぱいお話を聞くことができ、良い勉強になりましたし、日本社会についての理解を深めることもできました。 被災地の活動を通じて、現地における若者の地元離れ、人口の過疎化、産業再生の難しさといった問題も実感してきましたので、これからの被災地支援活動で重視しなければならない問題だと思います。

Q: What did you learn from Tohoku and what would you like to suggest to your country people in case of natural disasters that might happen in your country?
自然災害はわれわれ人類が築いてきた文明や生活環境を瞬時に破壊する巨大な脅威を持っています。どこの国においても、自然災害に備える防災システムや街づくりに力を入れなければならないと思います。そして、国境を越えて、人と人の絆を大切にし、多くの人が人を思いやる心を実際の行動で実現させることは真の復興に向けて必要としていることだと実感しました。

Q:Your message to the people of the world.
綺麗な海、緑いっぱいの森、美味しい魚、そして、親切な人々、ここは日本の東北です。 ここは津波で大きな被害になっていましたが、今復興に向けて、現地で暮らしてきた人々と支援活動で現地に駆け付けた人々が力を合わせて頑張っています。しかし、また力が足りないと思います。ぜひ震災のことを忘れずに、被災地に多くの関心を寄せてください。

>>Message in Mother tongue (PDF)

◆SON from China◆
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Q:What impression did you have on Tohoku after 1.5 year of disaster?
The people are looking forward rather than looking back. And They are very friendly. The thing which really impressed me is that the damage is beyond my imagination. There still remains some ruins. Japanese people remained some ruins initiatively in order to commemorate those who died. This also impressed me.

Q: Please describe your experiences and tell us your reflection of them.
We have done our volunteer activities in a small village located in Ishinomaki city which is not far from Sendai city in Miyagi Prefecture. It's a quiet and beautiful place. Our work is making holes on shells. And the shells will be set into a rope. And when concentration of shells' eggs in the sea water reaches the standard. The shells with ropes will be set into the sea water. So the small shells will grow on the original ones. It's pretty cool, right? All the four days, the local people prepared delicious food for us, and we cooked the dumplings for them. I think no matter which place you stay, the kindest people are always the normal local villagers. I was moved by their kindness. They are a little shy and friendly. In this quiet village, everything is seems slower than Tokyo's. People love their lives and are moving on. We visited several places which is destroyed badly by tsunami, in the last day. I was impressed again when we were in a primary school which all the students lost their lives in the disaster. I saw a sunflower which is growing under a damaged speaker. The speaker looks the same with the one of the primary school I attended 10 years ago. It made me think of a lot.

Q: What did you learn from Tohoku and what would you like to suggest to your country people in case of natural disasters that might happen in your country?
I first got to know the life of fishermen and how the human "plants" shells. The damage of natural disaster is always beyond our imagination. Japan as a advanced country in dealing with disasters, was damaged so badly. I could not imagine if this happened in my country. One point that I think we should learn from Japan is the disaster awareness. Second point is to establish an efficient information network of forecasting or informing the disasters like the one Japanese did. To China, I think the disaster awareness of normal people should be strengthened. Chinese is always paying too much attention to rebuild the facilities quickly while ignoring the personal emotions. We seems to fix everything fast, but have we learned something from the disaster. Have we show enough respect to the lives.

Q:Your message to the people of the world.
It's amazing place. People of northeast Japan are friendly and kind. I hope everyone who gets the chance to visit to here as a traveler or volunteer. People here need us. The food here is also attractive. Face to the natural disasters, the mankind is weak. We hold together and help each other. I think making connections with the local people will make you feel happy.

>>Message in Mother tongue (PDF)

◆PHI from Vietnam◆
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Q:What impression did you have on Tohoku after 1.5 year of disaster?
When we arrived at Tohoku, life in Ishinomaki city seemed to be normal again. There were a lot of people at the train station and everything was clean and not much damage could be seen. But during the week I could see the effect of the tsunami in the city. Heaps of destroyed cars were piled up along the roads and at an area near the sea the landscape was totally barren except for a few destroyed buildings. Most impressive was the tour at the end of the week when we visited the tsunami stricken areas outside of the city. I saw deserted grounds, totally destroyed houses, hospitals and schools. Reconstruction work and cleaning up was still ongoing everywhere. I could feel the immense scale of the tsunami.

Q: Please describe your experiences and tell us your reflection of them.
The volunteering at the fishing village consisted of physical work for about 4 hours per day. But local people made sure that we had enough breaks so it was not tiring at all. It was actually quite fun to work together and chat with each other. It was also wonderful to see the old ladies at the fishing village. They were still full of energy and they prepared delicious sashimi for lunch every day. The volunteer program was an excellent opportunity to make new friends and practice speaking Japanese. Working, eating, sleeping and travelling with the other volunteers and the supervisors for one week really allowed us to know each other. We had a great time going to the onsen, drinking and laughing together. Overall it was one of the best experiences I have had in Japan or any other country!

Q: What did you learn from Tohoku and what would you like to suggest to your country people in case of natural disasters that might happen in your country?
The sad story of the school where all the children and teachers died because the teachers could not decide what to do, taught me that in case of disasters it is important to make fast decision but also that people need to be educated to do so.

Q:Your message to the people of the world.
Volunteering in Tohoku is an experience that I will never forget. I would definitely recommend anyone to visit a disaster area if they have the opportunity. I think we can support the local people by meeting them and showing that we care. I hope we can make them smile a bit more every day!

◆CHANG from Malaysia◆
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Q:What impression did you have on Tohoku after 1.5 year of disaster?
Just after a week I left Japan back to Malaysia for Spring holiday, the tsunami struck Tohoku affecting 3 prefectures. For the whole evening I was sitting in front of the TV watching NHK live news, watching the places being destroyed by the tsunami and people gathering at roof top waiting for help. That was just a dot of the whole picture until I had the chance to visit Tohoku as a volunteer, after 1.5 year of the disaster. Until today, rubbles are still being cleared, roads are still beyond repaired. While we are travelling around with car, we passed by a school which is facing the sea totally destroyed by the tsunami. I can't believe what I saw, it sends chill down spine, and I asked Mr. Torizuka, a staff from JEN: "Is everyone in the school saved?" Glad that everyone is saved, but there are still a lot more souls taken by the tsunami.
I'm living in Kanto area, Yamanashi Prefecture to be precise. Despite just 1.5 year after the Tohoku disaster, people here tend to forget things easily, busy with their daily lives, is like it happened 10 years ago. The people in the affected areas still need help, financially and emotionally. I'm glad that I have the opportunity to volunteer myself to help the people in Tohoku, knowing their situation and hearing voices from them. Value life, value family and friends, value everything we have around us now, this is what I've learnt from the people of Tohoku.

Q: Please describe your experiences and tell us your reflection of them.
Despite the tragic event, I'm glad and relieved to see that people I've engaged having smile on their faces. To the locals, it seems like communicating with them is more important rather than the volunteer work. Words to touch one's soul, caring and sharing emotion together. We are human beings, it is important to share our feelings and thoughts. Through this opportunity, I feel relieved knowing that everyone is fine, and for the locals too, having volunteers from around the world, supporting them spiritually, I'm sure they are happy to have people to hear from them. One of stories I heard from the local, on the tragic day, he and other fishermen tried to save their fishing boats when the tsunami struck, heading towards the direction of the tsunami, leaving their family member back behind. Now, he told us that he will never ever do that again, think back of it, he would rather stay with his family members. From that, I've learnt that value your family members and friends, the one that loves you. Losses of properties, is just a matter of time to gain it back, losses of the precious ones, we will never gain it back.

Q: What did you learn from Tohoku and what would you like to suggest to your country people in case of natural disasters that might happen in your country?
Value and cherish things around us. Family members and friends are the most important thing throughout our life. From the people Tohoku, I've also learnt that, never give up no matter what stays on your way. I read a message from the volunteer journal written by local Japanese. In her words, she mentioned that this tragic event gave them new hope, a chance to know more people from around the world which they never had the chance before, is a new hope for them. After gloom comes brightness, never give up and stay strong.

Q:Your message to the people of the world.
The people of Tohoku need you. The human voice is the organ of the soul. Send your voice to the people of Tohoku, it will be the most precious gift and support to them!