It’s been two months today since the Tohoku earthquake, and nearly a month since I first talked about going up to Tohoku to volunteer.
I’ve done a couple of volunteer things here with a local group, and in three days I go up as part of a caravan delivering supplies and Indian curry dinners to evacuees. But that ride has been planned for more than a month.
In the meantime, I’ve finally managed to sign up with ALL HANDS for a one week tour doing backbreaking clean-up labour. I know that opportunities have existed before this, but I had problems either being accepted (due to my poor Japanese skills and/or inability to drive) or joining for logistical reasons (some groups have their volunteers sleep in self-provided tents; I neither have the money to spend on a tent, nor the skills to rough it like that, being 90% city-boy). Actually, ALL HANDS initially rejected me as well, but apparently, someone has dropped out, leaving a place for me. Huzzah!
ALL HANDS has secured part of an office building, cramming 20 or so people into a small room. Apparently we will have cold running water and a roof over our heads, which is enough for me. So this week, I’m spending my time scrounging the following items;
- air mattress
- proper mask (ALL HANDS gives me the type, but can’t tell me if they’re sold under the same designation here in Japan as well: N95 or N100.)
- insurance (found a provider, but need to get my wife to read the terms; it’s all in 日本語.)
Anyway, I’m really excited to finally be doing something concrete, and a bit scared about what I’m going to see.
In any case, allow me to leave you with two photos. These are the ones that are in the MY JAPAN photo exhibition tonight:
And yes, you can tell by the (lack of) quality that these were selected by popular vote, not by a panel of qualified judges. But I guess it worked in my favour this time…