While supporting the immediate relief-supply needs of small communities affected by the triple disaster on 11 March, 2011, Team Sake is actively building up relationships and creating networks. In the process, as we see the vision of the future drawn from the villagers' hopes and ideas, we send it throughout the world on the internet, recruiting further assistance, to help bring these visions closer to realization. Providing such things as personnel (volunteer manpower), commodities, technical skills, and information, many people coming from across the nation, and indeed the globe, are able to use this website to assist survivors in whichever ways they themselves choose. This process in itself is considered to be the most encouraging and sustainable way of offering both short-term and long-term support for the villagers.

Aug 7, 2011

Team Sake Diary: Hongo Village

Villagers’ needs

We visited Hongo on April 20th. In Hongo, 50 out of the 169 houses were wiped out by tsunami waves. 22 of the evacuees have been staying at the Hongo Community Center. We met some of the villagers who were waiting for a bus to go to a public bath. They said that there was a relief supplies distribution office not to far away, trying to distribute necessary commodities whenever villagers asked for them, and they added that delivery services were also getting back to normal. There are three areas we were visiting; Hongou, Ofune and Sakuratouge. Hongo was especially devastated.

We visited Hongo again on May 4th. Some evacuees have moved into temporary housing or prefecture-run apartments, but 16 evacuees still continue to stay at the Hongo Community Center. As we went there during the Golden Week (National Holidays), many were out of the town, but we were able to see the leader of the town as well as two ladies. Two months on, and what villagers mainly need are daily commodities such as soap and toothbrushes; and at the evacuation center, seasoning for cooking would be especially appreciated. Some relief supplies have been delivered, yet it is still hard to get certain things. They were happy to receive sesame oil, and tubed mustard, garlic and ginger from us. It’s also tough for larger items to reach the village. While talking to them, it turned out that the things most in need are: irons, laptops, printers, bicycles, sneakers for women, sandals for men, and large-sized (4L) jersey pants. The leader told us that they especially need laptops and printers to do administrative jobs for the town. We went to Kamaishi city center to purchase those requested items but could not find any large-sized clothes. A shopkeeper told us we had to go to a special store for those specific sizes of clothes. Nonetheless, we were able to buy and deliver sandals and sneakers, irons were sent later by someone who saw the blog. The villagers realized that bicycles weren’t a total necessity, though they are still (as of July) patiently hoping that computers and printers will be donated.

We talked to one of the villagers, Mr. Koike, on the phone. As of June 7th, everyone had moved out of the Community Center into temporary housing or prefecture-run apartments. He said that he was finally able to think about the future. People have been discussing their ideas on how to reconstruct the town, and presenting them to Kamaishi city. Some ideas include: filling in lower elevated zones, living on hills, building 10m-high walls by the sea and putting up solar street lamps. Mr. Koike said that villagers were particularly appreciative of all the positive support they have been receiving, and specifically thanked one of the Team Sake supporters for having sent a digital camera. They have enough food and basic supplies now, but they are still in dire need of laptops and printers.

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