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Activity Reports

Planters and Benches: New Project Launched!

January 21, 2012

Last year Peace Boat began an experimental project to support the Temporary Housing complexes, which is now officially launched! This project will see our volunteers installing planters at the temporary housing areas in the city. The report below concerns the rebuilding of community through such projects.

January 7

Today, Peace Boat volunteers headed to the temporary houses in Ishinomaki. There are approximately 130 homes, which house nearly 400 people. There are about 7,000 temporary houses in total in Ishinomaki at the moment and there are also many people living in renting houses or “Minashi houses”.

Certain areas such as Ogatsu and the Oshika Peninsula were so completely destroyed by the tsunami that nothing remained, and the former residents of these areas have moved together to new temporary housing complexes. In Ishinomaki the damage was more varied, and certain areas and buildings were destroyed, where others were left in a salvageable condition. Therefore the residents of Ishinomaki’s temporary homes come from different areas. This has contributed to the great disruption the communities have faced, and many people have lost what social ties still remain. The housing complexes really needed a place where people could interact with their neighbours and begin to rebuild their friendships anew.

In Peace Boat we have been publishing and delivering a small newspaper called Kasetsu Kizuna. The newspaper is filled with information and tips for everyday life, as well as events that are going to take place in the area. This project is being run in addition to the installation of the planters and communal benches. The volunteers undertaking these projects have enjoyed the conversations and the friendship of the residents of the temporary houses.

The space in the temporary homes is unfortunately limited, but flowers grown in planters placed in the complex will hopefully brighten the area. The flowers planted by the residents and benches built by them will hopefully help them to feel an affinity with their new homes. Hopefully, the communal spaces and beautiful flowers will also encourage conversation and friendship between residents.

When the houses lacked the basic daily necessities, we delivered them. When the houses were contaminated with mud and debris from the tsunami, we cleaned them. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, our projects were quite simple, as the needs were immediately obvious. As the situation has progressed the needs are no longer so evident, and it takes the building of a relationship to find out what needs to be done. The ability to communicate and build relationships with everyone involved in the recovery of Ishinomaki is becoming more and more important as time goes on.

Peace Boat hopes that by providing the means for people to connect and making small changes in people’s daily lives, that we can contribute to building a community, little by little.

Photos: Suzuki Shoichi