SHINE Humanity's partners are delivering 4,000 liters of fuel daily, providing heat and warmth to hundreds of families left homeless by the tsunami. Yesterday, on April 13th, the fuel relief trucks served two communities that are on the edge of the Southern and Western limit of their range ability. Here is a report from team leader Robert Picarielllo:
"The trucks are in a district called Higashimatsushima and have been isolated from the main relief effort taking place in central areas. The Japanese Army is there now, determining priority of needs, searching for bodies and establishing aid centers. The location is on a peninsula about 25km from Ishinomaki City. The area was ravaged by the Tsunami. We saw train cars that had been lifted off their tracks and swept 20 meters into the side of a community building.
They have not seen a Fuel Relief truck since the Tsunami, so it was a new experience for all of us. As we distributed heating fuel, people expressed, in the dignified and heartfelt manner we have experienced everywhere, genuine appreciation and happiness for the warmth represented by the kerosene. As the line formed for fuel, an older woman, an elder who must have experienced many events and feelings in her life, small of build and bent in frame, gestured to me and began speaking rapidly in Japanese. She knew that I was not able to understand but her need to express herself must have been so urgent and necessary for her that she had to speak. I asked Kenji, our translator, to come over and translate for me. Her story was of what the Tsunami took away: friends, relatives, children, grandchildren, homes… more than can be named. Her eyes held tears but she was not looking for pity or sympathy. She just wanted to tell it…with dignity. She ended her story and thanked us for what we were doing and I was so moved by it all: her, her story, the loss, her dignity, that I had to gather myself to hold some composure. It seemed too much to cry with her then and there. I thanked her and expressed myself in words. I just hope that was enough.
As we drove away I realized that much more was happening here than the over 53,000 liters of fuel we’ve distributed; maybe even as much as the physical warmth which 50,000 families have gained. The kerosene is real and the heat given from it is so meaningful. But in another sense, the kerosene is a metaphor for the emotional comfort for helping with the motivation and moral needed to carry on, for the bond of being just a human being. It represents all of us not able to control what happens to us."
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