If – and I hope to goodness it never does – a disaster befalls my home town I wonder if my friends and neighbours would be as kind to each other as the residents of Ofunato. Tonight I went to the center where most of the volunteers on Project Tohoku live, along with 70 local evacuees, and found a team of hairdressers who’d come along to cut hair for free. A good number of shops are still closed or were lost altogether and many of the evacuees also lost their jobs so a little luxury like this goes a long way. We were invited too – although maybe that was just to tidy some of us up a bit!
Yesterday a friend of one of our local volunteers stopped by our base. She did not have time to volunteer with us in the regular way but was a masseuse and spent her evening kneading the sore muscles of everyone who asked. Someone down the street has put their washing machine in front of their house with a message that anyone can use it as many people are still without running water. Volunteers have been invited to use it as well as local residents.
It has been suggested that a different kind of community develops in a post-disaster situation, one that we could learn from long after the recovery period and even in places that haven’t been impacted. These examples, of sharing and giving and thoughtfulness, seem to agree.