SPECIAL vol.6 Visiting the Disaster Affected Area(Part4) 
by Voices from the Field Admin - Friday, 20 January 2012, 06:15 PM

Tomoko Izumikawa, a member of the Collaborative Translation Team "Transpinoff"

I have been working on translating articles submitted to Voices from the Field by staff members of the volunteering groups working in the disaster affected area. For the first time after the disaster, I got a precious opportunity to visit the Tohoku area, see the situation with my eyes and listen to the sufferings of people with my ears. This is my report of visiting the Tohoku area for three days from October 17th to 19th, 2011.

4.What can we, the Voices from the Field (VfF), do for the people now?

Rescue Stock Yard (RSY) members came to the town of Shichigahama on March 25th soon after the disaster. Since then, the staff members have been providing continuous support paying careful attention to what the victims have to say and ensuring their needs are met.

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RSY’s base named Kizuna-kan in front of Shichigahama Volunteer Center

I realized something very important, when I spoke with Ms. Ai Urano, an RSY staff member, who has been staying in Shichigahama and providing supportive activities from the beginning.

We, VfF, have been translating articles written by volunteer staff in the disaster-affected areas and sharing them on our website. In response, registered monitors have sent a lot of encouraging comments from all over the world. When I told Ms. Urano about this, she said, “How inspiring those comments would be for the volunteers!” This made me realize that if we translate the monitors’ comments into Japanese and send them to the disaster-affected areas, we will be able to link the people there with the monitors abroad. Furthermore, the volunteers might respond to the monitors. When I imagined such communication spanning all over the world, I realized that this is what VfF should do. This was a real eye-opener for me.

In Shichigahama, young staff members of RSY always meet local people with a smile and make steady efforts to support them day by day. Some volunteers have taken a leave from their jobs and have come from far places by a volunteer-transport bus. I realized that we should deliver the worldwide monitors’ voices to these selfless people in the disaster-affected areas as it could provide great encouragement for them. That could be part of VfF’s mission. special6_3.jpg

As time goes by, we hear less and less about the disaster-affected areas. It is rather difficult for us to even imagine what the affected people are thinking and how they are doing at this moment, especially for those of us living far away and leading our “normal” lives. Visiting the disaster-affected areas taught me a lesson; it is a challenging task to convey the suffering people’s situation by means of words. However, I believe that we should try to understand how they feel and continue to deliver their voices from the field to the world.

(Edited by vff admin - original submission Friday, 6 January 2012, 08:12 PM)

Picture of Kim  Meyer-Cech
Re: SPECIAL vol.6 Visiting the Disaster Affected Area(Part4) 
by Kim Meyer-Cech - Thursday, 5 January 2012, 05:14 PM
What a good idea to forward words of encouragement to the affected people on site! It will be an organisational challenge though, to find the translators and then to decide how to deliver the messages to the people (do they even have internet access? or maybe a newsletter?).
Again and again I admire the selflessness of the volunteers who just give their time and effort without asking for a reward. And I admire the strength of the disaster stricken people who are "hanging in there" and trying to rebuild a community in which they and their children can live.
I believe another mission of Voices from the Field is for us to learn from both the volunteers and the people who live there how more humanity and goodwill can be brought back into our society (not just in times of need but in general).
Picture of Sharon Corologos
Re: SPECIAL vol.6 Visiting the Disaster Affected Area(Part4) 
by Sharon Corologos - Thursday, 12 January 2012, 06:34 AM
I am humbled to think that my few words of encouragement could mean so much for those volunteers on the ground, in the thick of it. The volunteers who are right there are giving so much of themselves..... not just the labor, or the skill, but the friendship, the compassion. From time to time, the USA newspapers & news shows give updates on the recovery progress of the Tohoku disaster. Recently I read that it was the most expensive disaster in world history. The effect on people's lives is inestimable. I am happy to do anything that may help in some small way.