Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project

by Hands On Tokyo
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Thank you very much for all your continued support so far this year.  You have helped us further assure many people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives more than six years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Summer is a very busy time for farmers as it is their primary growing season.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
In June, 19 Hands On Tokyo volunteers — mostly students from an international high school in Tokyo — helped Saito-san and his wife by working in their eggplant fields.  Although paprikas are their primary crop, Saito-san and his wife recently began growing eggplants as well as eggplants are quite hardy and can grow in soil that has been mixed with sand and saltwater.  
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of the day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the eggplant fields with deep gratitude.  They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in a day. 
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives. We already have several volunteer trips to Tohoku planned for August and September.
 
We also are still organizing volunteer projects for Tohoku residents that take place in Tokyo.  This helps build awareness of the continued need for support and enables people living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in volunteer projects when they are unable to travel to Tohoku. 
 
In June, a group of volunteers from Moody’s Japan gathered in Tokyo to decorate cookies and we delivered the beautifully and colorfully decorated cookies to a kindergarten in Yamamoto-cho.  The children and teachers were very happy to receive the cookies.  The cookies triggered many smiles and provided an opportunity for the children and teachers to create new happy memories together.
 
Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment.  In June, 19 Hands On Tokyo volunteers — mostly high school students from an international high school in Tokyo — helped weed, plant new plants and do other gardening at the O-Link House in Ogatsu. The O-Link House was the first permanent building to be rebuilt in Ogatsu after the earthquake and tsunami and as such is a beacon of hope for the former residents of Ogatsiu. It was built by Hands On Tokyo with the generous support of the Major League Baseball Players Association and other donors.  It serves as an important community center for those who used to live in Ogatsu before the earthquake and tsunami and who wish to meet with their friends and neighbors from Ogatsu and to continue their community activities.  It has gallery space where local artists can hold exhibitions and performances.  It also has a cafe run by young people from Ogatsu offering refreshment to the former residents of Ogatsu and other visitors. The people running, using and visiting the O-Link House greatly appreciate all the hard work of the Hands On Tokyo volunteers who help maintain the building and the surrounding grounds.
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Tokyo and Ogatsu to support and encourage the residents of Ogatsu who survived the tsunami. We are already planning to bring more volunteers to Ogatsu in the coming months.
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. Among other volunteer projects, we are now very busy planning a Disaster Relief Baseball Project called Be the Wind of the Future for nearly 50 young students on three local school baseball teams from Tohoku, Kumamoto and Tokyo.  Kumamoto is still rebuilding after and recovering from a devastating earthquake last year.  Tohoku and Kumamoto primary and secondary school children have had their sports training and school activities interrupted by these devastating natural disasters and we are working to bring three baseball teams together for sports, leadership and natural disaster response and recovery training in the hope that these young athletes will become future leaders in their local communities.  This project will be held in Tokyo this summer for several days.
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
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Thank you for all your continued support so far this year.  You have helped us assure Tohoku communities that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives six years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Sometimes it is hard to believe that six years have already passed and that there are still people living in temporary housing and working hard to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

 In the days, weeks and months following a tragic natural disaster, many people come together in response to the disaster. However, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop significantly.  There is a general sense among those living outside the Tohoku area that everything in Tohoku is back to normal and that there is nothing more to be done.  Recovery and rebuilding though take years.  

 Part of what we try to do is to maintain awareness in the Greater Tokyo Area of the current status of the recovery efforts in Tohoku and to make people aware that the road to full recovery is very much a work in progress with many people still living in temporary housing. In March on the sixth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, we held a charity concert in Tokyo at which local musicians and vocalists generously volunteered their time and talent to help raise funds for our Tohoku Disaster Recovery Volunteer Projects.  Another key purpose of the concert was to share with the Tokyo community the work that our volunteers have been doing in Tohoku this past year and even more importantly to convey how much still needs to be done.

 Winter is busy time for farmers as they need to clear fields so that the fields are ready for next year's growing season and to otherwise prepare for spring.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.

 With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce.

 In February, nine Hands On Tokyo volunteers from Australia, Brazil, China, Italy, Japan, Turkey and the United States spent two days helping Saito-san and his wife with winter chores by cutting, pulling and removing dead paprika plants and then removing tens of thousands of plastic clips that are used (and will be used again this year) during the growing season to support the plants and paprikas. Without the clips which are applied and removed manually, the branches would snap from the weight of the paprikas.

 The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the cleared greenhouses with deep gratitude and amazement. He never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in a day. 

 With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives.

 We also are still organizing volunteer projects for Tohoku residents that take place in Tokyo. This helps build awareness of the continued need for support and enables people living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in volunteer projects when they are unable to travel to Tohoku. 

 In February, a group of volunteers gathered in Tokyo to individually wrap beautiful scarves that were generously donated to Hand On Tokyo and we were able to deliver 90 colorfully wrapped scarves to families still living in temporary housing in Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture.  Ogatsu was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment. 

 With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Tokyo and Ogatsu to support and encourage the residents of Ogatsu who survived the tsunami.  

 There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. Among other volunteer projects, we are now planning a Disaster Relief Baseball Project called Be the Wind of the Future for young boys on three local baseball teams from Tohoku, Kumamoto and Tokyo.  Kumamoto is still rebuilding after and recovering from a devastating earthquake last year.  Tohoku and Kumamoto primary and secondary school children have had their sports training and school activities interrupted by these devastating natural disasters and we are working to bring three baseball teams together for sports, leadership and natural disaster response and recovery training in the hope that these young athletes will become future leaders in their local communities. 

 Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.

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Happy New Year!

Thank you for all your tremendous support last year.  You helped us convey to Tohoku communities that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome challenges in rebuilding their lives after the devastating earthquake and tsunami nearly six years ago.

In the days, weeks, and months following a tragic natural disaster, many people come together in response. However, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku have now dropped significantly.  There is a general sense among those living outside of the Tohoku area that everything in Tohoku is back to normal and that there is nothing more to be done.  Recovery and rebuilding though take years and it is natural for those trying to rebuild their lives to feel forgotten.  We greatly appreciate your continued general support as we work hard not to forget Tohoku.

Winter is busy time for farmers as they need to clear fields so that they are ready for next year's growing season.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Growing rice, vegetables and fruit is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.

With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce.

In November, 10 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped Saito-san and his wife with winter chores by pulling and removing dead eggplant bushes from a large field.  In December, 15 Hands On Tokyo volunteers (including members and leaders of a Boy Scout Troop from the American  School in Japan) pulled and removed eggplant bushes from another large field.

Eggplants can grow well in compromised soil, specificially soil that has been mixed with sand and salt water from the tsunami.  

The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of the day, Saito-san looked at the cleared fields with deep gratitude and amazement. He never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in such a short time period. 

With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives.

The November and December trips to Yamamoto-cho were also a time of celebration.  In November, we celebrated the near completion of the Saito Family's new home where three generations will live together after spending nearly six years in a very tiny temporary housing unit. In December, we witnessed the first day of service of a local train line since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The train runs next to the eggplant field, so we waved at each passing train and the conductor tooted the horn. It was heartwarming to witness the improvement and sense of community in Yamamoto-cho.

Aside from the farming activity, we were also able to bring the holiday spirit to Tohoku. Our volunteers created Christmas stockings from scratch that were hand delivered to a senior citizen`s home where former Ogatsu residents are living. The residents loved receiving individual designs of the socks and the personalized message attached to the gifts. It was a rewarding feeling to remind people that here, in Tokyo, we are still always thinking of them.

Slowly but surely the road to recovery is being paved. It is still a work in progress so we hope to continue to assist in recovery efforts. Thank you in advance for your continued support and helping sustain a powerful impact in the Tohoku area.

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Cleaning the local family`s home
Cleaning the local family`s home

In September, we took 26 volunteers to a district in Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture, where former residents were finally allowed to return to their homes for the first time in July after having to suddenly evacuate more than five years ago. Their homes are still in disarray and their properties are severely overgrown from the earthquake that preceded the tsunami. 

We helped a local family discard unnecessary material from their home. This involved physically moving the materials from outside of their homes, dismantling furniture, and sorting the trash according to local garbage recycling rules. Afterward we cleaned the interior of the home. 

The father of the local family we helped was very grateful for the assitance we were able to provide, saying he could not have managed such a physically and emotionally difficult task without our assitance. He and his family can now focus on moving forward and rebuilding. 

Our volunteers were deeply touched by this experience, as they could witness firsthand how the 2011 Fukushima disaster impacted residents. The volunteers said they could not imagine the enormity of the tasks involved in actually moving back into one`s former home after more than five years away.

We also helped an elderly woman by clearing out, weeding, pruning her yard and garden. Her husband has unfortunately passed away, and it was physically impossible for her to tend to these tasks herself. Most of the former residents who are returning to Minami Soma are senior citizens and it is very hard for them to do labor intensive work. We were delighted to this work for her.

It was astounding to wtiness what our volunteers could accomplish in only two days. Our volunteers were also suprised by how much work still needs to be done in Minami Soma and other communities in Tohoku. The media has reported that people are moving out of their temporary housing and returning to their homes. Therefore the public has the impression that things have returned to normal in Tohoku, but this is not the case. 

The reality is that these families face enormous challenges in trying to return to their former homes after more than five years away. Hands On Tokyo volunters can make a real difference in helping families make a smooth transition into living in their old homes. We hope to bring more volunteers to Minami Soma and other communities in Tohoku for as long as individuals are in need of our help.Specifically, we hope to bring volunteers to help local farmers in the area reestablish their livelihoods in the near future. 

There is still so much to be done in Tohoku, and there is still so many people in need of our encouragement and assistance. Thank you for your support, and we hope we can count on your continued support in the future. Projects like these would not be possible without our donors. You have touched the hearts and souls of many people in Tohoku, and the residents of Minami Soma and Hands On Tokyo are so grateful for your help.

Pruning trees at senior resident`s home
Pruning trees at senior resident`s home
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Summer is the peak growing season and a very busy time for farmers. Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Growing rice, vegetables and fruit is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
On June, 14 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped Saito-san and his wife tend to this year's growing season by pulling weeds from hothouses and by preparing nets so that this year's paprika plants can grow strong and produce many paprikas. 
 
In August, we took 15 students from a children's home in Tokyo and 9 other volunteers to Yamamoto-cho. The students and other volunteers helped a local strawberry farmer and his wife and son prune strawberry plants.  
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families days to complete.  Our volunteers also appreciate how hard farmers work throughout the year whenever they see fruits and vegetables for sale at their local supermarkets. 
 
With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives.
This summer we also made two trips to Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture.  Ogatsu was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment. 
In June, 14 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped weed, fertilize, plant seeds and clear away leaves and dead flowers at the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory.  And in August, 15 students from a children's home in Tokyo and 9 other volunteers helped weed the lavender plants at the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory.  A local resident founded the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory after the tsunami so that former residents and visitors could once again see beauty when they first enter the Ogatsu area.  She harvests the lavender and sells lavender potpourri in order to help defray the costs of maintaining the garden. 
Our volunteers who traveled to Ogatsu in June and August also learned about Ogatsu's rich history of slate craftsmanship and the devastating impact of the tsunami. These presentations create lasting bonds between Tohoku residents who have experienced more than one can imagine and our volunteers who want to continue helping Tohoku as much as they can.  
With your generous support, we hope to be able to continue bringing volunteers to Ogatsu.
Since our last report, we also had two new Tohoku projects.  
In July and with the support of generous sponsors and individual donors, we helped bring a group of 19 junior high school baseball players from Kesennuma and Minami Sanriku in Tohoku to Tokyo for a 3-day baseball training camp with 21 junior high school baseball players from Minato-ku (in Tokyo) and their coaches.  
These school kids from Tohoku have grown up in the aftermath of the tsunami, many living in temporary housing with their surviving family members.  It has been very hard for school sports teams to practice as school sports fields in Tohoku have been used for temporary housing sites for the past 5.5 years.  We wanted to create a Tohoku Project for some of these children to help them get extra sports training, to help them create new, happy memories and to have them bring their lessons learned and new athletic skills back to Tohoku. 
The project involved boot camp training, coaching by two Japanese baseball players who played on Major League Baseball teams in the United States, two baseball games (which were won by the Tohoku team) and a day at Tokyo Dome to see the Tokyo Giants practice and then play against the Yakult Swallows. The Tohoku baseball players also engaged in volunteering by helping pick up debris in the Roppongi area before going to Tokyo Dome.  It was a very moving and impactful experiences for all the participants and the volunteers who supported the event. 
In August, we took 15 students from a Tokyo children's home and 9 other volunteers to a district in Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture where the former residents were allowed to return to their homes for the first time in July after having to suddenly evacuate more than 5 years ago.  Their homes are still in disarray from the effects of the earthquake that preceded the tsunami and their yards are overgrown.  We helped a local music teacher by clearing out, weeding and pruning her yard and garden. 
She was overjoyed and practically in tears when she drove home after we got there and saw how much had been done.  Most of the former residents who are returning are in their late 60s and older and it is very hard for them to do this kind of labor intensive work. 
She told the volunteers about her experiences on the day of and immediately after the triple disaster, how hard it is to get repairs done on homes given labor shortages and the high cost of supplies and how in many respects it feels like Fukushima has been forgotten.  
We will take another group of volunteers to Minami Soma in September and hope to bring more groups of volunteers there as long as people need help getting resettled in their homes.  
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still so many people in need of support and encouragement. Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. 
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Organization Information

Hands On Tokyo

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Hands_On_Tokyo
Project Leader:
Naho Hozumi
Tokyo, Japan

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