It’s day 2, and aside from a rough sleep (we were 5 men sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder on a wooden floor. If you turned to your side you were literally face to face with the person sleeping next to you!) we were ready to make some picnic tables! Mrs. Konno and Iku-chan brought us breakfast that morning, and just like dinner it was an unexpected luxury. How about Hotate sahimi, natto, specially prepared eggs, and miso soup to start the day?
After breakfast it was time to start building the picnic tables. Mr. Yamada had brought some wood and power tools to the community in previous trips (he regularly makes trips to this community since last year), it was now up to us to make a place for residents to sit on. A couple of the older men in the community saw us working on the tables and wanted to help. They went to their houses, picked up some hand sanders and paint brushes, and we all went to work. Although we couldn’t understand each other, we worked as a team and finished the 3 tables in record time!
While we worked on the tables, a group of doctors from Tokyo visited the community to check on the residents. They were surprised and grateful for our efforts to help make life a little more comfortable for everyone. We met Ms. Sato, a clinical psychologist that specializes in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), who asked us to help a group of doctors she works with. We were able to visit their area in the afternoon. They are setting up a facility led by professionals (doctors, dentists, psychologists, and therapists) that have decided to open up their businesses to help people affected by the tsunami (they still service their regular clientele).Mr. Yamada will be following up on specifics.
Compared to last year, this year’s trip was more intimate and personal. We helped a great deal of groups last year, but this year we concentrated our efforts on one community. I am still in awe of the resilience everyone displays day after day. Despite the trauma they’ve experienced and the hardships they live through, the community remained upbeat. They were truly grateful for what small contributions we made and were sad when we had to leave. Although the time spent was short and there is a lot of uncertainty for these communities, it was rewarding to see that the food we served and the tables we made brought smiles to their faces. This trip has meant so much for me and it feels really good that what we did was meaningful for the community. I can see how this type of grass roots support helps these people.