RSY vol 17. Bonds of families
by Voices from the Field Admin - Thursday, 16 May 2013, 08:03 AM


This is a story of an elderly couple who live in emergency temporary housing.


Before the disaster, they had a happy life as a family of five with their daughter and two grandchildren. The husband was living a slow-paced life after retirement, and enjoying taking care of his two lovely grandchildren.


After the earthquake they all lived together in an evacuation shelter, but then the daughter and grandchildren moved to an apartment leased by the town, and the couple moved into temporary housing. So the family was separated. Since then the husband’s health began to deteriorate and he continued to lose weight over a period of more than one year. Then, one day, he was taken to the hospital by ambulance due to sudden illness and was hospitalized immediately. He barely escaped death and began recovering steadily. However, while in the hospital, he murmured to his wife, “I’d rather not go back.” 


His wife said, “He meant that he didn’t want to go back to the joyless days in such a small and cramped temporary housing unit.”


After that, he was released from the hospital and started receiving home treatment in the temporary housing. It was when the wife learned that her husband would soon leave the hospital that she related this story to me showing the relief on her face. How anxious and lonely she must have felt while she waited all alone for her husband to get back!


We often hear that it is the hardest thing for families to have to live separately after a disaster.


An elderly man has said that he doesn’t mind building a new house if he can live with his son’s family, even if he himself might not have much longer to live.


In another case, a woman has mustered her courage to give life another chance because her son said, “I want a place to call home.”


We will continue to listen to the voices of the people in this town.


Reported by Reiko Iida, Rescue Stock Yard.

Originally reported in Japanese on 16 October, 2012.