Japan earthquake and tsunami appeal update

Volunteers in helmets and masks carrying tools

Photo: Peace Boat, Japan

It is almost five months since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We are now reporting back on how the money donated has been spent.

Peace Boat would like to express our appreciation for the donation of ¥938,000 received from Friends of the Earth International for its Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Efforts in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

The donation has been used to buy mud-cleaning equipment for our volunteer Tsunami Mud and Small Debris Clearance team. Since 16 March 2011, this project has resulted in the clearance of mud from over 500 homes and other buildings. These include schools, retirement homes and shops, and miles of streets and drains.

The activity has helped over 2,500 people (those whose home and businesses were cleared) and thousands more in the wider community who have benefited from the improved environment and the re-opening of local shops and public buildings.

A Tsunami volunteer wrote: "One of the main activities we engaged in was to scrape sludge out of the houses affected by tsunami. We left for one shopping arcade in Ishinomaki. They said that the black muddy stream had swallowed up to the height of the 1st floor ceiling in the area only within 20 minutes after the strong earthquake."

"My group helped a coffee shop and a dental office over the weekend. We devoted ourselves to our work, having blessed them to start their work again as a master of the cafe and a dentist as early as possible. After removing the sludge into many sandbags, carrying out the muddy furniture, electrical appliances, and child toys etc., and wiping mud away, we could finally saw the surface of the floor after two days."

Speaking about the work of Peace Boat, local resident Sakuma Ikuko said: "I have nightmares about the tsunami every night. I get swallowed up by the waves and the moment that I think I’m going to die, I wake up. When I do wake up, all I see out of the window are the endless mountains of debris. A darkness was beginning to consume me and I didn’t think I could make it through. But then, I saw the young Peace Boat volunteers, with their boundless energy, removing sludge and debris. They gave me courage and the strength not to give up. That is what Peace Boat gave me."