On March 11, 2011 people in Japan and around the world watched horrifying scenes of giant waves engulfing towns along the coast of the Kanto and Tohoku regions of Japan just minutes after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country. In many cases, only vast empty swathes of mud or giant, senseless jumbles of debris were left where ordinary people once lived and farmed. To date, more than 420,000 people in Japan today remain displaced, and approximately 27,000 are dead or missing.
The force of the disasters was tremendous, but the response to them from the international community and of people from other regions of Japan has also been extraordinary. When Peace Boat, a peacebuilding NGO headquartered in Tokyo that has engaged in disaster relief projects in Japan and around the world since 1995, launched the Great East Japan Emergency Relief Project and called for volunteers, offers for help began pouring in from inside and outside the country. Since March 16, Peace Boat has been teams to the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture, including groups of volunteers who on a weekly rotational basis to help deliver and distribute aid, improve the environment of the 170 impromptu evacuation centres in the devastated city, and to provide hundreds of hot, nutritious meals per day to people both in these centres and those living in semi-destroyed homes or cars.
This blog, “Voices From the Ground,” was established to provide firsthand accounts from those volunteering in Ishinomaki with Peace Boat’s emergency relief effort. We hope it will serve as an invaluable window not only into the project, but also into the experiences of volunteers as they help to provide emergency support and to rebuild the lives and community of the people of Ishinomaki.
For more information about Peace Boat’s Great East Japan Emergency Relief Project, including regularly updated information about the local situation, and how to volunteer or support the relief efforts, visit the Peace Boat website: http://peaceboat.org/relief
Please note that entries by volunteers on this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion of Peace Boat.
If you have volunteered in Ishinomaki with Peace Boat and are interested in contributing something to this blog, please contact us any time at pbglobal[a]peaceboat.gr.jp
Voices from the Ground by Peace Boat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
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