My Time in Ishinomaki-shi – Introduction and the trip down…

When I decided to volunteer in Japan the most often asked question was WHY?!!

‘You’re so far away?’

I know..

‘Japan is the third largest economy, they can afford it’

Really?

‘Then why?!!?’

Why do we do anything? I could not put my reasons into words, however many times I was asked. I can even now only describe it as a ‘pull of humanity’

I felt the need to help, so I did.

I saved for 6 months to be able to join the volunteer effort, I thank those who donated to my cause but 90% of the funds came from my own pocket. I knew this would be the case so I planned a rough date in November to fly over.

My friend Sheila was key in my effort, without her I would have been stuck as there are no guides to HOW you volunteer.  She is very active in the relief effort, housing volunteers and volunteering herself with various Christian and smaller volunteer groups.

I came to find that the small groups in Ishinomaki are making a big difference to lives.They don’t get the praise, donations and media hype they deserve. They are the hidden diamonds.

I travelled down with a Christian group called Kurume Bible Fellowship (KBF), a Christian group who have gone to Ishinomaki almost every weekend since the disaster. On this trip they were distributing heaters for the coming winter, and working with Samaritans Purse on construction projects.

We left from Hibarigaoka at 10pm the Friday night and arrived in Ishinomaki for about 7am.

As you approach Ishinomaki you see the gradual increase in devastation, like driving into a apocalypse fantasy game on the PS3.

The whole bus was quiet, a few gasps as we passed piles of rusty cars and steel building supports bent over sideways by the force of the water. We stopped at a shrine to pay respects for a short time and to take in the landscape from outside the bus.

This was my reason.

We then had breakfast and delivered some heaters 🙂

(image owned by KBF Tohoku Relief Team)

The winters in Japan are harsh and Japanese houses do not have central heating. Heaters are essential for living in the region, and with little money and struggling industry local people are faced with choices. Food or buy a heater?

After this I was dropped off at my destination…the It’s Not Just Mud  madhouse.

Part 2 coming soon!

*If you want to volunteer from the UK and need advice just comment below and I will give it gladly.

Thoughts are with you (Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan)

My thoughts are with you, most of the people I know in the region and pacific areas are in Tokyo or substantially inland and have been accounted for. I still fear Tsunami and aftershocks but my friends are ready for evacuation and the buildings and infrastructure has held up in Japan. A testament to the engineering talents in Japan.

If you do pray, pray for those near the epicentre who we don’t know about yet.

Please keep updated here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698 and find friends or family : http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/

I will post any help we can offer the Japanese people in the aftermath of this disaster. Lives and livelihoods will need to be rebuilt.

From the foreign office:

The Foreign Office has given the following guidance:

British nationals should make contact with the British Embassy in Tokyo on +(81) 3 5211 1100 or the Consulate-General in Osaka +(81) 6 6120 5600 and monitor local TV and radio for evacuation information
Friends and relatives of those in Japan can contact the Foreign Office in the UK on 020 7008 1500
Radio stations in the Tokyo area that have emergency information in English include the US Armed Forces station at 810AM and InterFM (76.1FM)
British Nationals at evacuation sites should co-operate with the Japanese authorities and clearly identify themselves as British
Those connected with larger organisations such as companies, schools or church groups should also try to let these organisations know of their situation if possible