Work Report by Norie Minami, May 23, 2012
We worked today at a home in Iwaida district. We packed cow manure in bags (mixed in with peat moss like materials) and transferred them from a mound, where a track had dumped, to the owner`s vegetable garden.
Six volunteers worked a whole day to pack about 70bags, 40 lbs each, and carried them to the garden.
During the afternoon, the owner, 89 year old grandmother, and her daughter joined and worked together with us. They had more power and speed than the rest of us, who were much younger. The grandmother had recovered from her illness recently, and we worried about her, but, instead, the rest of the workers had to keep up with her pace. We were impressed by the stamina of local people who work on the farm and fishery.
The grandmother needed helpers but hesitant in asking volunteers and did not know where to ask for them. The manures were left by the road side for a while. As we walked by her house to help one of her neighbors, she noticed us and asked us for the help, hesitantly. There are probably many like her who could use help. We should seek these people and receptive to their needs and establish better relationship with these people who had survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami.
Word of encouragement
We are continuously helping to farm by a survivor of the tsunami
He did farming for a supplementary income prior to the disaster. The tsunami had damaged his home near the sea. At present he lives temporarily in a small apartment. Walls of the units are thin and he has to be careful not to make noise. It is a very stressful situation. He does not like to be in his apartment and often goes to his farm during the day.
He would like to restore his home soon, but it is too costly to restore. The amount is too large to accumulate for a person living on social security. He lost all his household effects. Even then, he lives looking forward to the future, and started to farm, but get tired in three hours. Previously, he did not get tired so easily. He sees as reality huge obstacle ahead of him and losing his will to persist.
It is not possible to say to such a person “gambare!”( try harder, persist!); it would be heartless to say. However, I would have like to give a word of encouragement, but was not able to say any word.
Sendai Support Center Staff
A note added by Robert Fujimura, the translator:
I am at Ishinomaki Support Center doing similar work with the volunteers. We prepare a part of the yard of several houses damaged by the tsunami. We cut out bushes and took out their roots, spread out fresh soils free of salt water, spread fertilizer in preparation for the vegetable and flower gardens. The owners of these houses are elderly and need help doing the work. The primary justification for doing such a work is to restore the community that existed prior to the disaster, so that these people could live among their friends and relatives.