Emi and I started Renew Yamada so that we could provide an avenue to contribute directly to the people of Toshiaki’s town, as well as to bring a closer view of what is happening with Japan’s relief efforts. So many family members and friends were concerned and wanted to help out. To date we have collected over 1300 dollars from the many generous donations that people gave us before departing for Japan. In addition, we have set up a paypal account for anyone that wishes to donate and Emi will also be organizing some charity events in the next coming months as well as something around March 11th of next year. Any ideas or contributions will be greatly appreciated. Now that we have had some time here, we have been discussing what direction we should take in trying to help the people of Yamada.
Our initial visit made us aware of the devastation as I have presented in previous blogs, however I’d like to mention the relief efforts. We visited the staging ground for the receiving of the materials that have been supplied by the Japanese self-defense forces, and donated by the Red Cross as well as NPO’s, churches, organizations, businesses and individuals. The generosity visible of immediate necessities for the victims in Yamada and towns like Yamada is heart-warming. It will however be a long haul back to some kind of normal life for these communities and continued support will be needed.
The set-up seems to be that people who lost their homes have been given food and shelter in gymnasium-type locations. They have sectioned-off card board dividers to give them privacy in a roof-less room. The next phase becoming available is the building of the temporary housing, kasetsu (仮設). Through a lottery system individuals and families will have use of a new clean one-room temporary apartment with a frig, sink, toilet in some cases, stove, washer and microwave. They will be able to use this space for two years time however, those who move in must be able to provide their own food. Since the people in the refugee shelters receive 3 meals a day, some people have chosen to stay. Many of the refugees are senior citizens living off of their small pensions, as well as many working age citizens whose place of work or means to make a living was washed away along with their homes.These groups of temporary housing have been built on school grounds and public grounds. Many hotels and business have also offered land for these new communities.
The general feeling is that the initial basic needs of the victims have been met. This is of course good news. Until more long term decisions are made among the various institutions as to where to re-build and how to compensate people for their land in order for them to rebuild on higher ground, people will remain in this temporary conditions. We hope to make our first donation on behalf of you all in August when Toshiaki and I return to Yamada for their annual festival. By that time we will have figured out all the details of money transfer for this kind of activity, as well as have a better idea of who and where to give the money. Until then we hope you will share this website with your friends and I will continue to post news from Japan.