I visited Mr Hayakawa of Sendai city’s volunteer office.
He explained there have been more than 50,000 volunteers in total worked for restoration works Sendai only.
Volunteers are not only from the other areas of Japan, but also from abroad. Even people from the Tsunami affected area are helping the restoration work.
There are still 100 volunteers dispatched everyday. The volunteers centre started a few weeks after the devastating event. This is because the area was open only for the searching of missing people. There was also a danger of another Tsunami triggered by after quake.
Volunteer centre first had to secure evacuation routes for volunteers in case of emergency, then started dispatching registered volunteers.
On 8th of August, I registered myself as a volunteer and I was dispatched to the coastal area of Sendai city, called Wakabayashi area. Around 40 people were transferred by bus to the destination. At early stage, volunteers sometimes have to walk to the destination since the roads were destroyed and vehicles could not run.
Our mission was to remove small debris from farm land. Small debris, pieces of plastic bags, pieces of glass, sometimes pieces of broken ceramic dishes were found in the soil. These are too small to remove by machines.
There was nowhere to hide from the sun without houses and sheds near the area. I assume many of them were destroyed by the Tsunami. We had to take a rest every hour to prevent dehydration, this made the work very slow. There used to be trees along the coastal line which protected the land from the strong wind from the see, buy they were gone, and ironically the sea breeze helped us keep working under the strong sun shine.
I met a man who had to evacuate from his house in Minami-soma, Fukushima and now lives in Sendai with his son. His wife and daughter stayed in other area of Fukushima. His family had to evacuate from their house, 15km away from the nuclear power plant.
“My family has to live in different places now. How precious it is that family members can live together and see each other, share things happened everyday… I miss my family.”
He now devotes himself to volunteer works.
“There is nothing we can do, but move forward.” He said to me, and perhaps also to himself.
Many young people especially who have little children decided to move out from the area. Their decision was quick, he said.
Even the evacuation order is lifted, the community would not be the same.
After around 4 hours of work, the amount of debris I removed was only a little. Feeling the sea breeze, I looked around the land covered by weeds where work are still needed.