journal, ofunato, volunteer

day 6, gutting and cleaning at the K’s

when I was here in July, there were fewer Japanese speakers, so sometimes it was hard to find a translator for each volunteer work group every day–this meant that as a Japanese speaker, I joined more gutting jobs as a translator. now however, there’s – reduced number of volunteers, and no shortage of Japanese speakers. so today was my first day during this visit to join a gutting team, and there were other translators in our group.

the K’s are an elderly couple, with a big house that they built 8 years ago, using a traditional Japanese carpenter. their daughter is in her 60s, so they must be in their 80s at least. Mr. K has a bad back, and some pain, but Mrs K gets around pretty well. but cleaning up and repairing their house would be impossible for them on their own–she said that if her kids helped, it would still take 2 months.

we are cleaning all the many dishes, etc. that survived the tsunami, and then also gutting and mudding the house.

the K’s are very very sweet. they told us they think of us like a family. mr K was telling stories about when he was a boy, and they didn’t have any money for food, so they would eat the bread that the u.s. and australian soldiers threw away, so now he is grateful to have food to eat and a roof over his head. he also said that since he was very young, he had been taught that there are boundary lines between countries, but that from the experience of volunteers coming from all over to work together, he now feels we don’t those boundaries.


About liz

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


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