The Great East Japan Earthquake Support Activities

Volunteer Activities Vol.6

ITOCHU Group employees engaged in the sixth round of volunteer work for supporting areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami this month. Employees who took part in this round of post-disaster support activities totaled 14. On the first and third days of volunteer work, the employees cleared land for cultivation together with local residents affected by the earthquake and tsunami. The locals touched the hearts of the participated employees with their forward-looking attitude. On the second day, the volunteers removed rubble from gutters next to an elementary school scheduled to have a field day soon. They worked together as a team for the sake of children at the school.


The lone pine tree that miraculously escaped destruction

The first day's volunteer work was to clear the debris from the land next to the wreckage of the gymnasium of a high school that had been destroyed by the tsunami. I worked away with a shovel and dug up many objects like onigawara traditional roof-tiles and home electric appliances one after the other. The person who had asked us to do this clearance told us that he wanted to speak about the earthquake and that this was the first time he had been able to do so in the year and some months that have passed since it happened. He then said,

“The tsunami was frightening, being much worse than I could have imagined. I decided there wasn't time to get to the road and drive so I clambered up a slope to get up high. Afterwards there was nothing but vacant land where the tsunami had struck, but recently the flowering nanohana field mustard reminded me that I must do something. We are now doing something but every day I ask myself if it's really OK that I've requested volunteers' help when there are other people still suffering. I suppose I couldn't believe that the volunteers would really come.”
I myself will never forget his face when he understood that we volunteers really had arrived. And after hearing his talk, I certainly threw myself as hard as possible into the clearance work.


Doing our very best to recover

I couldn't find any words to express my feeling when I looked at the landscape from the bus taking me from my lodgings in Kesennuma City to the Rikuzentakata City Volunteer Center. The land all around me was almost completely deserted. Only the nanohana field mustard flowering on the mountains of rubble told us that time had passed since the earthquake.

At the Volunteer Center, the staff kept telling us how grateful they were for our help. Similarly, the local people working in convenience stores or various workplaces constantly told us they were so grateful. But I want to say that in fact it is us volunteers who should be grateful to them. This is because the locals have made us feel keenly that we are being of help to someone.
But of course there is a still a mountain of things left to be done. There are many local people waiting for our support who are “doing their very best to recover.” The most important thing is that we continue to remember this fact.


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