The Great East Japan Earthquake Support Activities

Volunteer Activities Vol.9

During August 9 to 12, thirteen employees participated in the ninth volunteer action by ITOCHU Group employees to support the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the daytime, the volunteers cleared water channels for paddy fields and engaged in other physical work in Rikuzentakata. At night, they helped local people in Kesennuma -- the place of their accommodation -- with recovery from the disaster damage mainly through interactions with them. This time, ITOCHU volunteers worked jointly with people from other companies and university students. However, when water channels that had been buried in soil and sand due to the disaster were cleared and water started running again, all the volunteers shouted with pleasure and shared the sense of achievement with each other.


Seeing the Devastation and Meeting New Friends

The disaster that devastated the Tohoku region was a truly shocking event. I had been wondering whether there was something I could do to help with recovery efforts. Seeing the devastation with my own eyes, I again felt the difficulty and intractable nature of the recovery. Our work involved clearing clogged rice paddy ditches, and over the course of two and a half days, we cleared dozens of meters of ditches. By having meals and clearing ditches with 13 people of different ages and departments who I had never come across before in the ITOCHU Group, I was delighted to discover there were many wonderful workmates in ITOCHU that I never knew. I recommend that many more people pitch in and enjoy lending a hand.


Thoughts of a Recovery Volunteer

My group, that worked for around two and a half days was assigned the task of removing mud the tsunami had clogged ditches with. At first glance, the worksite seemed like an open field, overrun with weeds. We soon found that digging up weeds that had put their roots deep into the sediment deposits was work that required a lot of patience and perseverance indeed. We only cleared part of a section, but through our work we keenly felt that recovery work requires small, repeated and ongoing efforts like ours. It comprises never-ending support.
The words of the leader of the Rikuzentakata City Volunteer Center left a strong impression on me.
“We may struggle to live every day with thoughts of the deceased in our minds, but there's not much we can do for the ones we lost. But there's a mountain load of things we can do for the survivors of the disaster.” These words from the leader, who himself lost people dear to him, made me realize that what I can do, no matter how small, is just the type of work that must be continued.

A Meaningful Experience

This was the second time for me to take part in volunteer activities in Tohoku. I'd like to tell you about how meaningful this particular volunteer activity was.
We dug up a flat area that on the surface gave all appearances of containing nothing. We re-built irrigation canals, removed debris from rice paddies the tsunami had damaged and carried out other work. It was hard but meaningful work that finally produced results for the large group of adults that toiled away on the rice paddies, while getting covered in mud.
I enjoyed meeting the locals and fellow volunteers as a result of taking part in these activities. True to the words sometimes said that meeting people can change you, I feel that through these activities and encounters, I will gradually become a better and more generous person.

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