Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project

by Hands On Tokyo
Vetted

  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which makes it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and, in doing so during the hot summer months, to continue reassuring the local residents who are still trying to rebuild their lives that they have not been forgotten.  None of this would be possible without your generous support.

  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves. They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples.

  In June, 8 Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, helped Saito-san and his wife by staking eggplant seedlings and by clearing potato and broccoli fields in further preparation for this year’s growing season.  In August, 23 Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including children who live in a children’s home in the Great Tokyo Area and their teachers, helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding a large negi field. Negi are a type of Japanese leek and are a very popular ingredient used in Japanese cooking.  Saito-san hopes to harvest these negi plants in December just in time for people to enjoy them in various hot pot dishes which are very popular during the winter months.  We hope Saito-san’s negi plants grow strong over the next few months so that he can have a good harvest in December.

  We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku. As they continue to work hard to further rebuild their lives and relaunch the businesses that they enjoyed operating before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

  In June, Hands On Tokyo volunteers held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled sausages and served hot drinks and sweets. The volunteers also set up a popular summer game for the young boys and girls who have lived all their lives so far in temporary housing with their families. The game involves scooping small bouncing balls out of a small pool of water using a plastic scoop with a very thin paper lining. It was wonderful hearing so much laughter and seeing the young at heart – a few of the older temporary housing residents – playing the game as well. Afterwards the children enjoyed the pool of water on a hot summer afternoon.

  After lunch, Hands On Tokyo volunteers and the temporary housing residents made tanabata matsuri/star crossing festival decorations. They wrote wishes on colorful sheets of paper, tied the decorations and wishes to bamboo branches. The tanabata matsuri celebrates the crossing of two stars (Vega and Altair) carrying separated lovers – making it possible for the two lovers to see each other once a year. It is considered to be a time of year when wishes can come true and many people write down their wishes and tie them to bamboo branches.  It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together making decorations and creating new memories. Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. Please join us in hoping that all the tanabata wishes of the temporary housing residents come true.

  We will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku so long as people are still living in temporary housing.

  In August, Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped weed a special flower and herb garden located at the entrance to Ogatsu-cho. The garden was started by Tokumizu-san who grew up and lived in Ogatsu-cho until the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She wants to give hope to the former residents while they are still waiting to rebuild their homes in Ogatsu-cho. The garden is a symbol of regrowth and promise. Former residents living in temporary housing also use dried flowers and leaves from the garden to make floral postcards which are sold in a small information booth at the garden.  

  After gardening, the volunteers were led through a simulation of how the nursery and elementary school children in Ogatsu-cho barely escaped the rapidly rising water from the tsunami.  We hope this experience will help the volunteers react quickly when and if they experience a natural disaster in the future. The volunteers all said that this was a very powerful experience.

  We will continue to organize volunteer trips to Ogatsu-cho and other communities devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  There is still so much to be done and there are still so many people in need of support and encouragement.

  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. We are looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses.

Tohoku Project
Tohoku Project

Dear Supporters,

  Every time we bring volunteers to Tohoku, the local residents always say “please come back” and “please don’t forget”.  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which makes it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and, in doing so, to continue reassuring the local residents who are still trying to rebuild their lives that they have not been forgotten.

 

  In March volunteers from BNP Paribas helped plant baby rose bushes at a children’s home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families. This project teaches the children the joy of gardening and encourages Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago. Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba after the Triple Disaster and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden. After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with Hands On Tokyo volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy. The volunteers, the children and Okada-san worked side-by-side to plant the baby rose bushes. It was very special seeing so many generations working together and inspiring one another. We hope that, by participating in this project, the children will want to participate in other volunteer activities throughout their lives.

 

   Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves. They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples. Prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Yamamoto-cho area was famous for its delicious strawberries. During our recent volunteer trips to Yamamoto-cho, it has been very encouraging to see a large number of new hot houses where local farmers are once again growing strawberries. Hands On Tokyo volunteers were very lucky to taste some of these very sweet strawberries.  We encourage you to buy strawberries from this region when you see them at your local supermarket.

 

  On March 18th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped the New Rice Center by gathering and bagging dried rice plant stalks which were scattered across a large rice paddy when a typhoon passed over the area,  making it impossible for local farmers to use that rice paddy. The New Rice Center will now be able to use that rice paddy to grow rice this season. On  April 12th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Great Tokyo Area, helped the New Rice Center by spreading the dried rice plant stalks over a large field to help fertilize the ground for this year’s vegetable crops. The volunteers also helped Saito-san and his wife by clearing other fields in preparation for this year’s growing season.  

 

  It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to prepare for this year’s growing season without the support of volunteers. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.   

  In March, Hands On Tokyo volunteers also repainted the stairs and outside deck of the O-Link House in Ogatsu-cho (which is part of Ishinomaki City). The O-Link House is the community house which was built in Ogatsu-cho with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations. The O-Link House now plays an important role in keeping the local community connected while those from the Ogatsu area are still waiting to rebuild their homes in Ogatsu-cho. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to Ogatsu-cho to help further maintain this community house.

 

  In April volunteers from Moody’s Japan participated in a “Baking for Tohoku” Project that Hands on Tokyo organized and they baked lots of heart-shaped sugar cookies for Hands on Tokyo to bring to a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho so that Hands on Tokyo volunteers could decorate the cookies with the temporary housing residents. They also did a beautiful job decorating some of the cookies and making goodie bags for Hands on Tokyo volunteers to distribute to the temporary housing residents. Later in April, Hands on Tokyo volunteers held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled sausages and served hot drinks and sweets. After lunch, Hands on Tokyo volunteers decorated the sugar cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles with the temporary housing residents. One of the residents impressed the volunteers by skillfully painting Mt. Fuji on one of his sugar cookies. It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the cookies and creating new memories. Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  

 

None of this would be possible without your generous support. 

 

  In April, Hands on Tokyo also held a spring concert in Tokyo which raised JPY 600,000 for our Tohoku Projects. Over 200 people attended the concert and enjoyed dynamic performances by the Miyabi Arashi Taiko Group, Sawaka Katalyna and her piano accompanist, Maki Furugaki, and the award winning St. Mary’s International School Varsity Ensemble. The Master of Ceremonies was StuartO who regularly appears on a variety of Japanese TV programs and is a bilingual voice over artist. Members of the Hands on Tokyo Teen Advisory Board also held a bake sale at the concert, all of the proceeds of which were contributed to help fund future Tohoku Projects. It was wonderful seeing so many people from the local Tokyo community coming together in support of Tohoku and recognizing that there is still so much to be done in Tohoku.

 

  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. We are actively looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses.

Tohoku Project 2
Tohoku Project 2

  Please join us on March 11th as we pause to reflect on the fourth anniversary of the Tohoku Triple Disaster, to pay our respects to all those who sadly perished and to think of all those who are still living in temporary housing and trying with great resilience to further rebuild their lives.  So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  And we will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house which was built with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations.  We also are looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for HOT volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku businesses and families during this continued post-disaster recovery period.

  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which enabled us to bring the spirit of Christmas and Valentine’s Day to temporary housing residents in the Yamamoto-cho area of Miyagi Prefecture. In December, HOT volunteers collaborated with a Tokyo-based boy scout troop from The American School in Japan in bringing Christmas presents to children living at a temporary housing site and holding a Christmas-themed café at another temporary housing site. 

  The presents were festively decorated by students from a Tokyo-based girls’ primary and secondary school, Seisen International School.  This is a great example of how students in the Tokyo area can participate in Tohoku projects when they are unable to travel to Tohoku. Primary and secondary school students from the boy scouts troop helped the children living at the temporary housing site select Christmas presents.  There was much laughter and many smiles while the presents were being opened and while the boy scouts, their scout leaders, the HOT volunteers, the children and their families enjoyed spending time together.  Many of the children living at the temporary housing site are under six years old and have spent much, if not all, of their lives living in temporary housing.      

   We then held a Christmas-themed café at another temporary housing site where the boy scouts and HOT volunteers, all wearing Santa’s helper and reindeer hats, made yakisoba and French toast, grilled sausages and prepared goody bags filled with holiday-themed cookies and sweets. 

   In February, 18 HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, held a Valentine’s Day themed café at another temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho for the first time.  We are looking to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku that we have not visited before.  HOT volunteers made yakisoba and French toast, grilled sausages (some cut into fun shapes such as like an octopus thanks to the special talents of our HOT volunteers) and served hot drinks and Valentine’s themed cakes and other sweets.  Yakisoba is a nostalgic comfort food in Japan.  One of the temporary housing residents said that the ingredients have gotten more expensive recently so she has not been able to prepare it for her family and she was very happy to have been able to enjoy a yakisoba lunch with her family at the café.

   HOT volunteers in Tokyo also made heart-shaped sugar cookies which we brought to the café and decorated with icing and heart-shaped sprinkles with the temporary housing residents.  It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the Valentine’s cookies and creating new memories.  After lunch one of the HOT volunteers played beautiful songs on his keyboard and then another HOT volunteer demonstrated hula dancing and taught the residents and other HOT volunteers how to hula dance.  We did several hula dances together and learned the meaning of many of the hula dance moves.  Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. 

   There are still labor shortages in certain parts of Tohoku which makes it very hard for local farmers to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They and their families cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.  With your generous contributions, HOT volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho.  The New Rice Center gives local rice farmers a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, get together and share information. It also contains new rice thrashing equipment that local farmers can use when harvesting rice and packaging the harvested rice for the market.

   In December, HOT volunteers and boy scouts helped the New Rice Center by attacking a mountain of rice chaff, the protective casings separated from rice grains during the thrashing process.  The rice chaff has to be manually bagged so that it can be taken away and used as fertilizer.  Then, in February, HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding the inside of several hot houses to help Saito-san and his wife prepare for the next growing season and by striping the bark from logs and then treating the wood so that the logs can be used to build wind barriers.   It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to bag and remove all of the rice chaff and for Saito-san and his wife to prepare for the next growing season without the support of volunteers.   

  We will continue to organize more volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.  We also will continue the job shadowing program with Saito-san and other local Tohoku farmers for youths who must leave the children’s home when they turn 18.  This will connect local Tohoku farmers who are looking for young people to work with in rebuilding the local agricultural economy and youths who lack family and other support in finding jobs.

  In January, we commenced a new Tohoku volunteer project with BNP Paribas.  Volunteers are helping plant a rose garden at a home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families.  This project will teach the children the joy of gardening and will help Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago.  Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden.  After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with HOT volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy.  

 None of this would be possible without your generous support. Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku, particularly at the time of the fourth anniversary.  

Helping out at the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho
Helping out at the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho

Thank you very much for your continued generous support.

 

In October HOT volunteers participated in a Day of Service in Tokyo by exhibiting photographs of HOT volunteer projects in Tohoku and the many wonderful people in Tohoku HOT volunteers have been able to support with your generous donations.  Through this exhibition, we were able to share the stories of the people of Tohoku and the positive impact volunteers can have on those still trying to rebuild their lives after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.  It also encouraged new volunteers to join our Tohoku projects.

 

There continue to be labor shortages in certain parts of Tohoku that are making it very hard for local farmers to rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses as the limited number of available workers are deployed on large scale infrastructure and other construction projects. They and their families simply cannot do all the hard labor-intensive work themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, HOT volunteers have been able to continue to support a local farmer, Saito-san, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho.  The New Rice Center gives rice farmers in the Yamamoto-cho area a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, get together and share information. It also contains new rice thrashing equipment that local farmers can use when harvesting rice and packaging the harvested rice for the market.

 

In October, 15 HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Tokyo area, helped Saito-san clear fields after harvesting vegetables.  They also enjoyed providing Saito-san and his wife with a chance to relax for a little bit by preparing a BBQ using his locally-grown vegetables. In November, 15 HOT volunteers, including teenagers from the children’s home, helped the New Rice Center by attacking a mountain of rice chaff, the protective casings separated from rice grains during the thrashing process.  The rice chaff has to be manually bagged so that it can be taken away and used as fertilizer.  It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to bag and remove all of the rice chaff without the support of volunteers.   

 

Going forward, we will continue to organize more volunteer trips to further support the New Rice Center and Saito-san, his wife and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.  We also are coordinating a job shadowing program with Saito-san and other local Tohoku farmers for youths who must leave the children’s home when they turn 18.  This will connect local Tohoku farmers who are looking for young people to work with in rebuilding the local agricultural economy and youths who lack family and other support and who are looking for jobs.

 

In November, 15 HOT volunteers helped with the hotate matsuri (scallop festival) in Ogatsu by running the scallop booth which gave festival attendees the chance to enjoy grilled fresh oysters.  Prior to the earthquake and tsunami, the hotate matsuri was a very popular annual event.  While so much of Ogatsu has yet to be reconstructed and while so many former residents are still waiting to return to their beloved hometown, it was so encouraging to see so many smiling faces in Ogatsu for the day to enjoy local fresh scallops.  Thank you for making this possible.

 

Going forward and so long as people are still living in temporary housing, we also will continue to hold cafes and events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  And we will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house (which was built with the help of your generous donations), to clean local beaches so that people from the greater Sendai area will continue to visit the area and thereby support the local economy and to participate in special events like the hotate matsuri to encourage those who are still waiting to resume their lives in Ogatsu and the surrounding communities.

 

None of this would be possible without your generous support. Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  

Helping at the Scallop Festival in Ogatsu
Helping at the Scallop Festival in Ogatsu
Helping at the Scallop Festival in Ogatsu
Helping at the Scallop Festival in Ogatsu
With Saito-san at New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho
With Saito-san at New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho
With Saito-san at New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho
With Saito-san at New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho
Bagging rice husk at the New Rice Center
Bagging rice husk at the New Rice Center
Volunteer helping in the NRC
Volunteer helping in the NRC

With your generous contributions, HOT volunteers have been able to continue to support a local farmer – Saito-san – and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho.  The New Rice Center gives rice farmers in the Yamamoto-cho area a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, gather and share information.  In July, HOT volunteers helped Saito-san secure netting and then attach growing paprika plants to the netting in five greenhouses.  By attaching the growing plants to the netting, the branches will not break and die when the baby paprika begin to grow larger.  At the end of the day, the HOT volunteers remarked how hard it must be for Saito-san, his wife and other local farmers to do all that work by themselves.  It is very hard for Saito-san, his wife and other local farmers to run their farms and grow their businesses without the support of HOT volunteers given the continued labor shortages in certain parts of Tohoku. 

 

Going forward, we will organize more volunteer trips to further support the New Rice, the Ogatsu Island Farm Project (a new business in Ogatsu growing local produce) and Saito-san, his wife and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.

 

HOT has also been able to continue organizing cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku as a way of supporting the residents who lost their homes in the tsunami while they are waiting to move into new homes. These events encourage people to spend a bit of time outside of their small temporary living quarters and to socialize with others in their temporary community.  These events also play an important role in letting these residents know that, with the passage of time, they have not been forgotten by those living outside of Tohoku.

 

In June, we held a café at which HOT volunteers made and served yakisoba, sausages with tomatoes, Japanese omelets, French toast, hot and cold drinks, fruit pies and other sweets.  After lunch, a HOT volunteer played several beautiful songs on his keyboard.  It was wonderful seeing how the power of music can bring members of the temporary community and HOT volunteers together and to see so many smiling faces.  Thank you for making this possible with your generous donations. 

 

HOT is also finding ways for volunteers in Tokyo to support Tohoku without having to travel to Tohoku.  In June, HOT volunteers held interactive cooking classes with children from two children’s homes who seldom have opportunities to meet with adults other than those working at the children’s homes and their teachers.  Chefs taught the children easy to make recipes with the assistance of HOT volunteers and then everyone enjoyed eating lunch together.  This taught the children important cooking skills that they can use when they leave the children’s home and we sourced the ingredients from Tohoku.  We obtained vegetables from Saito-san’s farm and seafood from Ogatsu, a community that HOT has been supporting for more than three years with your generous donations.  Several teenagers residing at the children’s home who have participated in our volunteer trips to Tohoku also gave a presentation on their experiences volunteering with HOT in Tohoku.

 

In June, two groups of HOT volunteers in Tokyo baked and decorated cookies and then made goody bags with the handmade cookies for temporary housing residents near Yamamoto-cho.  The residents were very happy when they received the goody bags. 

 

Going forward and so long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will hold more cafes and events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  We also will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house (which was built with the help of your generous donations), to clean local beaches so that people from the greater Sendai area will continue to visit the area and thereby support the local economy and to hold special events to encourage those who are still waiting to resume their lives in Ogatsu and the surrounding communities.

 

We could not do what we do without your generous support.  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for bringing smiles to the faces of so many people in Tohoku.  

Volunteers helping in the NRC
Volunteers helping in the NRC
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
 

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Organization Information

Hands On Tokyo

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Website: http:/​/​www.handsontokyo.org/​en/​home
Project Leader:
Naho Hozumi
Tokyo, Japan
$84,211 raised of $99,000 goal
 
379 donations
$14,789 to go
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