daily life, journal, non-profits, photos, rikuzentaka, temporary housing, volunteer

day 5, distributing winter packs to temporary houses

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today I got pretty drenched doing deliveries to temporary housing. we went to this area, in rikuzentaka, which is also the location of the photo rescue project.

today there was a large memorial event in Rikuzantaka for people who had lost their lives in the tsunami, so many people were not home in the morning.

most of the houses in this site are detached single units (around 170 total), and the families tend to live in the few connected row house areas of temporary housing. we saw a few kids today (it’s Saturday, so they don’t have school. there were 1 little boy and 1 little girl who were very cute and followed us around chatting constantly. when I said I was a student in Kobe, the little boy who is 7 said “I’ve been to Kobe”, when I asked why, he said because Kobe suffered a disaster, and his town had also suffered a disaster. and that it took 3 days to get there.

but there weren’t very many kids around, and many of the houses have only 1 person living in them, including some very elderly folks (we went door to door dropping off hot water bottles, etc.). one women who lives very close to the photo project came to the door with a exceptional energetic attitude and was very friendly and chatty. she told us that her husband had died in the tsunami, and that today she went to the memorial event. but she was so positive, and said that she had many friends around, and that many people died in the tsunami, so there were many others around her who shared her feelings.

but mostly people seemed very quiet and withdrawn. I had always thought that detached temporary housing is the best option (more privacy, more space, more control over your own living environment), but today I realized that it’s not enough–if the people living there don’t have a way and/or reason to come outside and interact with others, the form of the housing, whereas it looks nicer, may not serve them any better than the big barracks type temporary housing after the Kobe earthquake, or the high rise recovery public housing built later.

About liz

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

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