Dear Global Givers
This is Hiroaki, Ashoka Japan’s Tohoku Youth Venture Programmatic Leader.
We have selected 41 teams of Youth Ventures for 2years. I would like to introduce you to two unique youths.
I am from Wakayama Prefecture. Although large earthquakes are predicted to take place in the region, it is a big problem that people in the region are not very interested in the issue.
After I went to volunteer at areas affected by the earthquake, I tried to discuss with people in my region about the current situation in the devastated areas and showed them photographs. But their responses were that such issues are not very related to them. I felt a strong sense of crisis.
In those time, I met with Ikumi Nakazawa who live in Kesennuma and experienced the earthquake. She thought that in order not to render the lives of people who died from the earthquake meaningless, she needed to alert people in other regions of her experience to prevent the same tragedy from being repeated.
So I decided to convey the horror of tsunami and earthquake with her and created a plan to heighten the awareness toward prevention of disaster and conducted lectures and workshops in schools in Wakayama Prefecture. By listening form her directly, I thought that students in Wakayama Prefecture will feel more closely related to the issue.
What I learned from the experience was that it is very difficult to change people’s mind. No matter how much time you give them, it is meaningless unless every person gets prepared for the prevention of earthquake. Because I do not want my loved ones to die any more, I will continue to work to increase the awareness toward disaster prevention to as many people as possible.
This is Hiroaki, Ashoka Japan’s Tohoku Youth Venture Programmatic Leader. Here in Japan, it is starting to get colder and colder. This is especially so for the Tohoku area (Northeastern Japan) which suffered from the earthquake and tsunami. The cold is taking a toll on victims who live in temporary housing projects.
However, I have some good news. We have recently had some of our teams finish our one-year Tohoku Youth Venture program. As we continue to cheer them on, we have also welcomed into our program a new Venturer. I am thankful for all of our wonderful supporters and donators who have made this possible.
Today, I would like to introduce to you a Youth Venturer who started her activity earlier this year. She is also a victim of the tsunami disaster; her own house was washed away by it. Her name is Yuuri Tabata, a 17-year-old high school student. Please take the time to watch a video of a TV program in which her activity was covered, and to learn further about her “Kataribe” activity below.
The video: Fighting forgetting
My name is Yuuri. I live in Minamisanriku, Miyagi. Today I will present to you an actual speech that I gave in English.
Below is my speech:
The disaster on March 11, 2011 left signs of damage in my hometown, Minamisanriku, Miyagi. Because my house was ruined by the tsunami, I was forced to live in a temporary housing project. I have not seen the reconstruction that has been repeatedly promised over the last two years. I started questioning what the adults, who had been promising reconstruction, had actually accomplished. I believed that the adults in charge of addressing the situation would actually get something done, but it soon proved to be just an illusion. However, I noticed one more important thing: like those adults, I had also not taken action yet. That is why I started up "Kataribe" a group of students who tell our experiences concerning the disaster to the young generation.
Now, I have activities with "Kataribe" after school and weekends. For example, I talked to students who came to Minamisanriku for a school trip. Some of them cried after hearing my story. I hope they will be the next "Kataribe", telling my story to friends, family, and other people. Sometimes I have a chance to tell my experience to foreigners. Most of them are very surprised because earthquakes and tsunamis are not common to them. Maybe my English is not good, but I believe my story have reached their hearts. Through my activities, the disaster would continue to be told to younger generations.
Through these experiences, I have realized one important thing. Anybody can think, but what is important is to take action. You can say "Thank you" anytime. However you can lose your friends, family, and lover at any moment. You should think and then take action so that you will not regret later. The young will create the future and make this country better. You should think and then take action. These steps will change you, people around you, and even the world.
Action is a message.
This is Hiroaki Yabe, Ashoka Japan’s Tohoku Youth Venture Programmatic Leader.
I am very thankful for the support we have received in the past. It has been a year since we started this project and we are delightful to inform you that now we have 36 Tohoku Youth Venture teams and individuals who are working for the revival of the Tohoku area.
I recently went to the town of Tomioka of Fukushima prefecture where it became an evacuation zone two and a half years ago when the nuclear power plant exploded. Despite the months passed, there still is debris left and the town has not changed since the tragedy.
I would like to introduce Ayaka Kanagawa, one of our Tohoku Youth Venturers who joined our community in June 2013. Her project is for people who are evacuating to Hokkaido from Fukushima. She has made a warm and open community for new coming families who still experience fear and memories of the tragedy.
Hello everyone. I am Ayaka Kanagawa and I am a junior at Tenshi University in Hokkaido, studying dietetics.
I visited the affected area for the first time in March of 2012.
I visited Kamaishi of Iwate prefecture and witnessed the terrifying scars of the disaster. At the destructed town, I saw debris everywhere and temporary houses that look all the same.
But there was more to this town. Warm-hearted people and the beautiful nature of Kamaishi fascinated me more than anything. Since then I have visited Kamaishi five times.
I became tightly connected with the people there and realized that Kamaishi is not just an “affected area” but there are many remarkable things about Kamaishi such as its resilient nature, people, and local dishes.
I visited the area that was hit hard by the disaster and realized that the recovery is extremely slow unlike what we hear from the mass media. The experience motivated me to do something about it. I decided to offer help to the people from the area.
When I went back to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, I was informed that there are 3000 people who are evacuating from Fukushima, where the nuclear power plant exploded. That was when I realized that the effect of the disaster is not only present in the affected area but also in remote areas such as Hokkaido.
“I can support Tohoku even from Hokkaido.”
I want those people, who chose Hokkaido to start a new living, to feel comfortable in their new home of Hokkaido. I wish that they can root in Hokkaido as their second home where they can feel relieved and safe.
This is how I started to do activities such as teaching at cooking events, inviting participants from Fukushima and Hokkaido.
I also organize events where people can experience farming. I invite evacuees, who are very sensitive toward food, to the farm where they get to experience farming and produce food for themselves. Both adults and children get to do farming on the field and cook lunch after the work is done.
Through this program, they get to experience the feeling of eating safely with their five senses and with their heart.
This year we also have participants of families from Hokkaido as well as student volunteers from my school, unlike last year when we only had participants who were evacuees.
I will continue to run this program hoping they will have more and more happy days in Hokkaido as their new home.
Hope you enjoyed the report from Ayaka. Ashoka Japan will continue to support youth like her around Japan who has an empathetic motivation to revitalize the Tohoku area. Your kind support and donations enable them to keep moving forward for the future of the Tohoku, and thus Japan. Thank you for reading our report and please look forward to hear more about our Youth Venturers’ activities.