6 Months Of Project Tohoku
The sprawling coastal city of Ofunato, with an ageing population of 40,000 and a third of its homes damaged or destroyed, had a clear need for additional volunteer labor to work alongside the city’s cleanup and recovery efforts. Following approval from the Mayor of Ofunato, we opened our doors on April 12th to eager volunteers from around the world. Six months on, with over 1,000 volunteers from 33 countries, with over 65,000 hours of volunteer service contributed to the local community efforts, we can reflect on the contribution we’ve made to the colossal efforts by the city and people of Ofunato.
In April, homes and businesses were filled with debris.As the debris has been removed, and treasured possessions recovered, skilled volunteers removed damaged floors, walls and ceilings of more than 125 homes and businesses, removing the burden of initial steps of the repair process from overburdened carpenters. Our volunteers delivered over 82,000 specially requested food items, supplementing evacuation centres’ food supplies, by slotting in to established SDF delivery routes. Cash grants for building materials and professional labor have helped 36 families move back home. We’ve cleaned close to 100,000 salvaged photos and digitally retouched 300+ water-damaged photos returned precious memories to dozens of families. At the request of the city of Ofunato our volunteers cleared miles of clogged municipal drainage canals, avoiding flooding during winter. We are also rehabilitating one of the only publics parks that the city hasn’t repurposed for temporary housing, so local children can have a safe environment in which to play. The diversity of work speaks to the widespread need confronting communities up and down the North East coast of Japan.
In six months, the Japanese government has constructed nearly 50,000 temporary homes and cleared over 11 million tonnes of debris countrywide. According to the Mayor of Ofunato, every piece of debris in the city had been touched; either cleared, demolished, chopped up, or relocated for sorting. With local carpenters now finished constructing temporary housing, repairs and rebuilding have started in earnest, and more local businesses open each week.
Even with this impressive progress, full recovery is still years away. All Hands Volunteers is well positioned and committed to continued support of this region through this year and beyond. A smaller, more focused group of volunteers are present until 12th November, after which, we’ll roll out a longer term recovery strategy, designed to meet the needs of affected communities and industry. We’ll continue to rehabilitate public parks and sports fields, fund the restocking of school libraries, and support the rebuild of infrastructure.
A special thanks to the remarkable people of Ofunato, whose resilience, generosity, and kind words of encouragement provide ample motivation to work hard each day. Thank you also to all our supporters who have helped make our work possible. We continue to accept donations