journal, ofunato, photos, rikuzentaka, volunteer

photo rescue, day 2

I’ve only been here for 3 days, but already I’m experiencing the volunteer time warp, and it seems much longer. I think a big part of the reason for this is that it’s the only time I’m really able to shut out most of the rest of the word, and not be distracted by many things at the same time. it’s also hard to keep track and keep writing about each day, but I am going to try.
today was my 2nd day working on the photo rescue project. it was nice to already know the basics and be able to keep working where we left off on monday, a photo album with many pictures of a small boy, and his little sister. after thinking of them as little kids (the photos went until around the time he entered elementary school) I realized by looking at the date that actually he’s a little bit older than me, not a little boy at all! which means his young mother in the photos is the age of my mother. I wonder if the album was hers; I hope she is alright.
we also found a letter a girl had written to her parents when she entered jr. high school, thanking them for everything they had done.
the area is rikuzentakata, which was completely destroyed, and the tsunami came very quickly. I don’t know the details, but i think a lot of students were killed. another room of the photo project building holds mementos and other items found in the debris, including several piles of elementary school children’s backpacks. the bags, which are such an icon of Japanese children, are like a punch to the gut–a visceral reminder of that day, when everyone dropped everything and ran…if they had enough time.

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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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