No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted

By Khaliunaa, volunteer from Mongolia

Even one simple person can make a difference, no matter how big or small as long as we have a common goal in mind. I strongly believe that together we can make the difference we all want to see.

Hi everyone. I am a graduate student majoring in International Peace and Study Program and working at Peace Boat office as summer intern. I had the opportunity to volunteer in Ishinomaki city as a Peace Boat intern.

My experience in Ishinomaki is unforgettable and one that will always stay present in my heart. If I could describe my experience in Ishinomaki in two ways it would be life-giving, and heart breaking. When I first arrived in Ishinomaki I was shocked and heart broken to see the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami, and stacks of hundreds of crumpled cars and miles of rubble that used to be people’s homes.

Two days short program with the relief operation project was very life-giving.  We were able to help a local elderly lady for the first day, clearing mud and cleaning outside house, and on the second day we observed the different places which have been affected by the earthquake and the tsunami with the Peace Boat staff members.  The second day was a rare experience, and the Peace Boat staff members in Ishinomaki kindly arranged a tour for us. I also learned how cooperation between communities and Peace Boat enhances opportunities for longer-term development. People there in Ishinomaki know what Peace Boat is. Almost everybody knows what Peace Boat does. The local communities were happy with Peace Boat assistance; I felt that Peace Boat has not only built their houses but also their hopes and dreams.

When facing the massive disasters which occurred in Tohoku, everyone must have felt the vulnerability of human beings to natural threats. Yet I believe the biggest power of recovery comes from human beings. What one volunteer can do is small, but what all of us can do is huge for recovery, it creates a stronger power. Little by little the volunteer’s contribution creates a sign of recovery and brings out hope and encouragement to the Ishinomaki people. It is important to get more people involved and to continue the support. After the initial media boom people gradually forgot about the disaster, but the real challenge for survivors has just begun. Their need may have changed but there is still need for help. The true recovery can come only after a long-term effort of everybody.

Spending time in Ishinomaki and with the Ishinomaki people brightened my day. I really admire the strength and courage of Japanese people. Even if they lost a lot in the tsunami, this did not stop them from thinking about the needs of others. Power of empathy is stronger than sympathy.

I recommend volunteering for emergency relief operation to anyone and am certain that all those in our team would say the same. It’s a life-changing experience. If you don’t want to work hard though, it’s not for you. Knowing that your time and effort will make such a difference to people’s lives is incentive enough to want to leave feeling that you couldn’t possibly have done more. It will take years for the country to recover, but by working together will make a difference in the lives of millions of people.


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