“ Listeners of today are the speaker of tomorrow” – Emi Mizuguchi tells her story of volunteering in Ishinomaki

This is the second in a series of reports by Peace Boat interns about their experiences volunteering in Ishinomaki.
The Japanese language version is also available online here.

Hello, my name is Emi Mizuguchi, working at Peace Boat office as an intern since March, 2011. I had a chance to volunteer in Ishinomaki city and visit Onagawa town as a short-term volunteer for the first time.  Both areas were deeply affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Before going to the Tohoku region, I was wondering what I can do to contribute to the local people. After spending time in the devastated areas and communicating with people, I realized the importance of our visit.

These days news and television programs do not report as much as they used to on the disaster, however it is still a long road to recovery. Visiting the area changed how I live my daily life and I started to think more about the people living in the devastated area. I was also touched to hear that volunteers are providing emotional support to local people by just being there.

Walking around the town wearing the bib provided by  Peace Boat, local people thanked me and approached me with kind words.  Even though I had not provided them with anything, they still had a warm relationship with the Peace Boat Volunteers. I could see how Peace Boat had built a relationship with the locals and gained their trust.

Through the experience of visiting Ishinomaki and Onagawa, I realized the importance of standing together with the local people in the road to recovery and that the most important thing is to stand together with them till the end.    I am in a part of  a project called the “Orizuru Project,” which takes Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb) throughout the world to give testimonies of their story of survival.  Through this experience, I reconfirmed the importance of spreading the testimonies.  I was also reminded of a Hibakusha’s speech, “Listeners of today are the speaker of tomorrow.”

It was only few days working within these devastated areas, but they were very meaningful.  Holding conversation with the local people and facing the situation on ground made me think about many things in life. From now on, I will be the “speaker” and would like to connect this experience to future activities.

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