Yesterday the third and final team came back from the satellite project in Yamada. The shaman’s house is gutted and awaiting rehabilitation and the shrine site is cleared and cleaned. Camp was broken and all trace of volunteers packed up and brought back to Ofunato, leaving just the work that had been done.
This third round also took on a new task too and helped out at the local volunteer centre. Yamada is short on volunteers and in one of the most heavily impacted cities along the Iwate coast there’s still lots to be done – sorting relief supplies and heaps of just the kinds of gutting work some team leaders have become experts at here in Sakari. The centre has also set aside a well serviced campsite for out-of-town volunteers to stay at so even though we no longer have a (mini) base there, there is definitely the option of sending small groups to the area again. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
Following on from yesterday’s post, I think it’s important to underline once again that the work I’m doing here is necessary and useful, not created by the organisation in order to give volunteers something to do. People here have lives they need to pick up and carry one with, jobs to go back to, school has started again and so on. Those who come to volunteer with All Hands are lucky enough to have found a way to be able to live for a while without wages and have chosen to spend that time helping others.
There’s also a psychological impact for those who lived through the disaster which is often overlooked. Many of our local and national volunteers say how overwhelmed they are that people come from around the world to a country they may never have been to, to help people they have probably never met. It means a lot to see such a visible reminder that people care. This alone would be a compelling justification for enabling volunteers to work in post-disaster locations, and if you also have the necessary logistics for meaningful work, provided without straining already burdened local systems, you have something special.