August 1, 2011

On July 15, a ceremony was held to hand over the final donations from Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) for the reopening of the Ofunato fish market. PWJ has been working in partnership with an American aid organization, Mercy Corps, on this initiative to provide equipment such as forklifts, scales, tanks, and generators to the market to get this key industry in the region back on its feet. A Mercy Corps staff also posted a report on her visit to the market that day, where she saw first-hand the joy of the local fishermen and residents to have fresh seafood in their market once again.

JEN is continuing to recruit and dispatch volunteers to the Tohoku region throughout the summer months to help with the ongoing efforts to clear mud and debris from homes and fields, deliver relief supplies to homes and temporary housing, and assist in meeting other needs as they arise. They report that to date more than 1,700 volunteers have participated in JEN’s volunteer work.

AAR staff joined in the fun at a preschool festival, helping kids forget the recent events for a while.

The Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan reported on their participation in a children’s festival held at a preschool in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture. The first floor of the school had been destroyed in the tsunami and had to be rebuilt, so the children could not go back to school until mid-May. Even now, the school is surrounded by reminders of the disaster—the remains of houses that were swept away by the tsunami and fields littered with rubble can still be seen from the school grounds—and school officials noted that the children are still dealing with the fear they experienced on March 11. To help bring some joy and laughter to the children, the school’s PTA had prepared activities and traditional Japanese festival treats like yakisoba (fried noodles) and kakigori (a Japanese version of a snow-cone), and AAR brought sets of toys that were handed out to the children in hand-made bags donated by people throughout Japan.