Delivering Aid Directly To Japan's Tsunami Victims

by SHINE Humanity
Apr 22, 2011

Homes Have Sunk but Laughter Rises

Lines for heating oil
Lines for heating oil

April 20th - “Today, the SHINE Humanity-sponsored fuel relief truck visited Oshika Hanto, the  peninsula just Northeast of the city that juts out and curls into the Pacific. Before the tsunami, many small fishing villages called Hamas (literally meaning ‘beach’) had been along the coast road that we travelled.  This was the first time the truck visited this fishing village.  The truck delivered fuel to the few groups of Tsunami survivors who remain here, dispersed in small Hamas and shelters. Kenji Christopher Suzuki, a liaison with the project, brought the team into his home and told us his story of the afternoon of the earthquake and Tsunami. These are his words:

“I was sitting in my room next to the kerosene heater, watching television. I started to hear a rumble sound – all the earthquakes start with noise first – and it kept getting louder and louder; the house began to shake and it kept getting bigger and bigger; stuff started falling down everywhere in the house and the sound became a roar. I shut the heater off fast and jumped up and ran out the sliding door into the yard. It was snowing and I was just in my underwear. The quake just kept getting worse and it was all roaring everywhere. It sounded like the end of the world. I ran up into the garden where it was open and everything was moving. I could see the mountain moving and boulders were falling and it was like the whole land was alive. It wasn’t just shaking up and down but side to side and diagonally. It just kept going on and I began to believe it might be the end of the world. I threw my hands up into the air, towards the sky and yelled ‘Please stop…Please stop’ over and over and it began to slow down and it did stop.

I knew there would be a Tsunami and I was worried about my Dad, who I knew would be driving from Ishinomaki.  I ran into the house and got dressed, got all my important stuff together in my pack, shut the breakers off on the house and got in my car and drove up the hill, to the old school that was on higher ground. I left my car up there and ran back down to help get the older people up the hill. At that time my Dad returned and we did this together. I was glad to see him.  All the people in our part of the Hama were up high now and we watched the sea. I saw a big bulk of water, like a lump, pass in the sea going toward Ishinomaki. Part of it wrapped around the jetty in front of our Hama and came to our area. The sea pulled away and came back up with a roaring sound into the lower houses and you could hear crunching and breaking sounds – snapping and cracking like lumber breaking. The second wave came up and began pushing houses off foundations. Everyone was in bewilderment. Smaller Tsunamis continued – maybe 16 or 17 in all. After that there were more aftershocks and it started to get dark. I didn’t sleep that night or the next. On day three I walked into Ishinomaki. ”

April 18th - “Now, the fire for life in Japan was evoked by terrible circumstances. But here are still smiling and laughing children, an old man staunchly carrying twenty liters of fuel from our truck to his home a kilometer away, the mother with two little ones by her side expressing her thanks, the workers and Japanese volunteers cleaning and repairing meter by meter.

Today, in a neighborhood where the Tsunami waterline shows at about three meters high, a group of six young boys were taking turns practicing with a single skateboard. Our translator, Kenji Christopher Suzuki, who is an accomplished surfer, went over to them to give them some examples of good skateboard technique. He mounted the board and after a series of beautifully done moves, received resounding applause from the boys and the people waiting in line for fuel. We laughed and clapped together.  Happiness and joy is what he brought out in all of us. That’s all it took. We found that part of us, the part that knows life must go on and is happy for it, and we shared that wonder for a moment.” 

Filed by: Robert Picariello, Team Member

A restful moment for two young Japanese
A restful moment for two young Japanese
A devastated fishing village
A devastated fishing village
Carrying home heating fuel
Carrying home heating fuel

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Organization Information

SHINE Humanity

Location: Tustin, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Todd Shea
Executive Director
Irvine, California United States

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