evacuation shelter, iwate, journal

4/10/2011 notes

I saw a lot in 1.5 days. I’ll put the photos up separately. but here are some random snippets of things that stuck out in my mind.

we stayed in a farmhouse with a local family. before, they were involved with some eco tourism/ farm stay activity I think. so they have a little guest accommodation spaces, and a room for meetings/parties. I got the feeling that its the kind of place that people just stop by when they are done with their day–and kind of social hub. based on the fact that’s what happened today!

mr N (our host) is a farmer, he raises blueberries and apples and makes delicious juice. his son and daughter in law both work for the local city office, so they had been really busy since the tsunami. they barely have time to come home to sleep, and didn’t for a number of days right after the quake. they have two small kids, so mrs. N (their grandma) is taking care of them more. they whole family seems exhausted. but very sweet.

the 2nd night, we all had dinner together, including a few other folks, a Spanish/japanese translator, a nice guy from the city office, a nurse, and R chan, a volunteer coordinator. he told about someone he knows, who is an elementary school teacher, M chan. the earthquake happened in the early afternoon, one kids were in school, and some were picked up by family. one of M chan’s students left school with their grandma—both of them died in the tsunami. the rest of her class evacuated safely.

R chan is working in an evacuation center. you could tell he really cares for the people there, and would do anything for them. he asked K sensei about privacy, what can they do so that people can have a little bit of privacy. the answer was that they could use cars. I showed him the project by shigeru ban, building partitions in the evacuation shelters. maybe they could get that at his shelter. he also told about someone who is teaching kids English in the shelter, another volunteer. of course the kids cant go to school, so they have used benches and made a little study area within the shelter, where the kids can work on their homework. they have some worksheets, but that person didn’t know the answer to a problem, and asked all around but couldn’t find anyone who could answer it. so she apologized very deeply to the students, and felt really bad that she could tell them the answer. the students on the other had, felt uncomfortable and that it wasn’t right for an adult to be apologizing to them, so they just tried to study harder. I felt so sad hearing that story, even though its just a story about an english worksheet. I offered to help, and gave my email address.

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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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