journal, volunteer

day 9, last day volunteering with all hands

today was my last day volunteering with all hands in ofunato. I’m sad to be leaving, and it was sad to say goodbye at tonight’s meeting. it does feel like the project is winding down, but I wish I could have been here longer.
my job this morning was cleaning the base (there’s a housekeeping rotation). since cleaning is only a half day job, I signed up for the photo rescue project in the afternoon. one of the things that I’m happy about this trip is that I had a chance to join the photo project, which was just getting started when I was here last. and I wanted to spend my last day cleaning photos.
I think one of the nice things about the all hands project tohoku is the broad range of activities, from distribution to temporary housing to photo retouching, and of course gutting and cleaning ditches.
there is a bento lunch provided to each volunteer at the worksite everyday, and since I was joining in the afternoon, I rode with the bento delivery, which was actually a great thing to do on my last day. since photos is furthest away, actually in rikuzentakata, not ofunato, we stopped by each of the other projects first, and even drive by the first gutting project I worked on.
this morning, as we were on the bus that takes us from the residential facility that is hosting us down to the office/base in town, our bus had to stop at the railroad crossing, because the bar was down. since the rails were completely destroyed by the tsunami and rains aren’t running here, this was a first for almost everyone on our bus. actually they are doing test runs, and as we sat there waiting this morning, with sun streaming in the windows, a single blue locomotive chugged by. at this sign of recovery, we all spontaneously started clapping, and seconds later burst into laughter because we were adults clapping at a train engine. it was a nice moment to start off the day.

About liz

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

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