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.
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