Volunteers painting Community Center
Thank you very much for all your tremendous continued support which means so much to the people of Tohoku and our dedicated volunteers.
Since our last report, we made five relief trips to Tohoku and held activities and events with nearly 130 volunteers, benefitting over 600 people.
We are very pleased to report that the construction of the Ogatsu Community Center has been going very well. They are now using locally produced slate recovered after the tsunami on the roof. Through generous donations from all over the world, we were able to send two groups of volunteers to assist with painting the exterior on February 9/10 and 16/17 as shown in the photograph below. We also supported the local economy by having the volunteers stay overnight in a small local minshuku (Japanese inn) in the hills just outside Ogatsu. We hope that – with your generous support – Hands on Tokyo volunteers will be able to continue to assist with painting and
landscaping activities during the final stages of construction and then with ongoing community events once the new Community Center opens around April 2013. As the tsunami washed away or severely damaged all but one of the
buildings and as so far this is the only new, non-temporary construction in Ogatsu since the tsunami, this is a tremendous source of encouragement for the people of Ogatsu and highlights the critical importance of ongoing volunteer initiatives in the region. Once completed, it will house a library, a café run by local residents, offices for the Machizukuri Council and the Recovery Project Committee, space for the preservation of local industry and traditional culture (such as fishing and ink stone crafts) and study and recreational areas.
After taking an overnight bus to Arahama Beach (outside Ogatsu), Hands on Tokyo volunteers worked on December 1st with members of the local community to make rice cakes for an “Ogatsu Canvas of Hope – Be Heard Our Vow to Recover” event where people wrote messages of hope for recovery on a 4x40 meter board facing the ocean and
to those who lost their lives in the tsunami. Our volunteers also held a café – serving warm drinks and food to all those who participated in the event. Then, after taking an overnight bus to Ogatsu, Hands on Tokyo volunteers held a special Christmas café on December 15th – serving yakisoba, pancakes, hot dogs, cakes baked by volunteers in Tokyo and hot drinks and distributing handmade New Year’s decorations and blankets to members of the local community of all ages.
As so many people are still living in temporary housing in locations quite far from their former neighbors and support networks, Hands on Tokyo remains very committed to further supporting and encouraging the people of Ogatsu through cafes and other activities. We also hope that – with your generous support – we can continue helping local residents to rebuild their lives and restart their businesses. For example, in March we are arranging a volunteer weekend to help Saito-san and his wife, local farmers in Yamamoto-cho, prepare for the spring growing season.
Thank you in advance for making all this possible through your generous donations. We cannot do what we do without your support.
Dinner at local minshuku (Japanese inn)
Ogatsu Community Center
In front of Ogatsu Canvas of Hope
Famous HOT cafe
Handing out year-end/new year gift