RSY vol.5 - At the Temporary Housing
by Voices from the Field Admin - Sunday, 11 September 2011, 12:05 PM

Temporary housing units in Shichigahama opened for the survivors on May 8th.
A total of 151 families, after winning the first or the second housing lottery, have moved into the First

Sports Field Temporary Housing constructed within five minutes’ walk from Kizunakan Volunteer Center.

About a week after they moved in, the residents shared their impressions.

Some people mentioned that their stress levels have reduced:

 “It’s much better than the evacuation shelter. ‘Cause I don’t have to worry about the feelings of others. I’d say it’s comfortable.”
 “It’s good to have a private space. I’ve come to feel like wearing make-up again.”

However, most of them had already faced new difficulties in their daily lives:

 “I have trouble with my legs. At the entrance and the bathroom doorway, the differences in floor level are too big to step up. The edge of the bathtub is also too high. I can take a shower, but I am not able to take a relaxing bath.”


 “Though the roads are paved for cars, I have to take a gravel path to get to my front door. It’s scary to walk on gravel using a cane because it’s easy to trip and fall.”

 “A family from another neighborhood lives next door. My concern is that my small children will bother the neighbor by running around, tapping on the walls, shouting, crying and so on. I feel nervous about my neighbor’s feelings.

 “I spent the first night alone after leaving the shelter…..I felt lonely,”

 “Many ants come into my kitchen. They’re annoying.”

 “It’s humid inside. Must be like a sauna in summer.”

 “The problem is our unit has little storage space. Moreover, as we have elders receiving nursing care, their two beds occupy most of the room.”

 “Those who don’t own a car like me can’t go shopping by themselves. We do have Gururinko (public bus service), but as they don’t offer a service at a time convenient for me, I have no choice but to ask my family to buy things for me when they shop.”

Among these problems, I think the ones related to the elderly and young children are especially significant challenges to be tackled promptly since even trivial things could cause severe stress or serious accidents when the elderly or young children are involved.

On a different day, I had an opportunity to talk to some mothers with small children. Their facial expressions and attitudes revealed the fact that they were worn out by the anxiety and stress that had been undermining their mind since the disaster.

One of the mothers said,

 “The other day I shopped at a hardware store. Seeing an item, I thought it might be useful if I attached it on the side of the fridge. Then, I remembered that my house didn’t exist anymore. Did that happen because I had lost everything in a flash? I thought I’d gone out of my mind.”

She behaved cheerfully at the beginning, but as she spoke, her eyes started to be filled with tears.
Hearing that, another mother said,

 “That has happened to me, too. Everyone feels the same way. In my case, my children have lost all their toys, too. So, we are now retrieving them. I mean we’ve started to buy the same toys as they had, one by one.”

In order to give material and spiritual support to the residents, we have set out on some efforts to improve their lives while living in the temporary housing.

○ Making good use of the common room in the temporary housing


Residents enjoy chatting at the tea room

We have set up a place to relax over a cup of tea at the common room of the temporary housing, working with Shichigahama Disaster Volunteering Center. We furnished the room, which the Town Authority had used as a storeroom, with tables and chairs to give it the same function as that of the café opened daily at Kizunakan Volunteer Center.

This tea room is run by the members of a local volunteering group, Tomo-no-kai, and the people who come by RSY Volunteer Bus. About 20 customers visit this tea room every day, and recently children also drop by on their way back from school. As it is large enough to hold casual events, we are planning to have concerts, photo exhibitions, flea markets, etc. there.

 “If I stick at home all day, I’ll lose my marbles. When I feel depressed, I come here to see people. As I enjoy chatting with others, time goes quickly.”

Such voices make us happy to know that this tea room has become their place for relaxing.

On the other hand, some people come to the café at Kizunakan, as before. They say,

 “I don’t feel at ease with joining the groups from other neighborhoods.”
 “I prefer leisurely coffee break in a small cozy place.”

These voices remind us of the importance of offering choices in support activities.

○Post Script
We planted a lawn on the clear space in front of Kizunakan, on May 11th, with permission of the Town. Now it has become a favorite place of the children, who had to give up their playground for the construction of temporary housing.


Children are playing with joy on the lawn

Reported by Ai Urano, Rescue Stock Yard (RSY, based in Nagoya) from Shichigahama, Miyagi, Northeastern Japan

Picture of Sharon Corologos
Re: RSY vol.5 - At the Temporary Housing
by Sharon Corologos - Saturday, 24 September 2011, 12:30 PM
On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene (then downgraded to a tropical storm) ravaged the eastern part of my small State of Vermont (on the right of New York State). Houses tumbled downstream in the rivers. Bridges were washed out. Whole towns were flooded out. Some people lost everything and now, almost a month later, we have some displaced people still living in temporary housing.

I am proud to say that the people of my small state have pitched in to clean up and to help the unfortunate in this disaster. We've volunteered time and raised money. Vermonters have a strong sense of community; we care about each other, even if we've never met before.

And as I read the news of our flood damage and participated in volunteer efforts, I continually thought of the volunteers in Japan, of the volunteers who are part of Voices from the Field, serving the countless number of earthquake/tsunami victims and keeping the rest of the world aware of the human side of this tragedy. It strikes me that the Japanese people have a very strong sense of community and duty to each other. The Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster of 2011 is many times bigger than our hurricane. The repercussions for the Japanese victims are many times greater and longer lasting. The Japanese volunteers will be giving more time and support than is imaginable. Recovery is a long time in the future.

Knowing that my Japanese friends will perservere, knowing they won't rest until all the victims again have a quality of life..... that idea is a role model for me. The world is watching and learning from you, the Japanese volunteers. You inspire the rest of us to become our better selves. Thank you.
Picture of Yue Yu
Re: RSY vol.5 - At the Temporary Housing
by Yue Yu - Tuesday, 4 October 2011, 10:12 AM
The temporary house seems much better than the shelter.
At least Japanese people have their private space to do what they like. The smile on their face clearly clarifies the point.

Hope the reconstruction of houses will be finished sooner, so that Japanese people can lead a normal life again!!