Sunday, April 3, 2011

Iranian journalists donated carpets to the disaster victims

避難所にいる子どもたちにペルシャじゅうたんを配るアフシン・バリネジャドさん(中央)ら日本在住7カ国の人たち=岩手県陸前高田市で2011年4月2日午後3時26分、岩下幸一郎撮影Iranian journalists and other foreigners from seven countries visited Rikuzentakada, Iwate Prefecture, to donate Persian carpets to the evacuee children at the shelter, hoping the carpets help the evacuees weather out in the cold. The Persian carpet is thick piled and heavy. The kids exclaimed, "It is so fluffy!"
The Iranian journalist (cannot find the proper spelling of his name in English) first came to those disaster-affected area including Rikuzentakada as an interpreter for the foreign press and he was shocked to see the severity of the damage. He wanted to make kids at the shelter happy and asked his friends for help. He could amass as much as 500 sheets of Persian carpet, usable as a cushion, as well as stuffed animals. 
Summary of the article by Mainichi Shimbun, April 2, 2011

Man who lost mother to tsunami continues chasing education dream they held together (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Devoted volunteer firefighters fight through tragedy (by Asahi Shimbun)

The will of a city councilman saved schoolchildren from the tsunami attack

There was a city councilman who kept asking the city to build a bridge as an emergency path for an elementary school on the coastline of Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture.  It was completed last December.The councilman died of illness nine days before the Tohoku Pacific Offshore


Evacuation path at Okirai Elementary School (center) which was covered with debris swept over by the tsunami. Children seen in the right side of the photo were able to escape through the path to reach up the hill. (at Okirai, Sanriku-Town, Ofunato-City, Iwate-Prefecture, March 28, 2011)
Photo by Makoto Semba

Earthquake, but the students evacuated safe going through this path. Okirai Elementary School is located about 200 meters away from the sea. The three story school building was hit by the tsunami and is now exposing the aftermath of the merciless disaster.

There is a five meter high cliff across the school.  The old evacuation route was to go to the first floor to exit the building and go to the road and to climb up the slope to get to the top of the cliff and proceed to Sanriku Railway Station. 


Mr. Takeshi Hirata, courtesy of his relative

Mr. Takeshi Hirata, a city councilman made a suggestion to build a bridge as an evacuation route for Okirai Elementary School at the meeting of March, 2008.  He wanted the successor to carry this idea until the realization as his will. He thought that if students would have to go downstairs to the first floor, they would not make it; they can evacuate faster if they could go directly to the road from the second floor.

A huge amount of wave-driven debris cover the emergency evacuation path (photo center)
(at Okirai, Sanriku-Town, Ofunato-City, Iwate Prefecture)
Photo by Fumiaki Sonoyama

Per Mr. Hirata’s ardent request, an emergency path was constructed to connect the road on the slope and the second floor of the school building in December, 2010.  When the budged of four million yen for this project was approved, Mr. Hirata was very excited and urged the city to expedite the construction.
On March 11, immediately after the massive earthquake, the total 71 students were able to go up to the road through this emergency path and climb up the hill.  It was instantly after the earthquake when the tsunami came. After that the emergency path with about 10 meter long and 1.5 meter wide was destroyed by the tsunami followed by the earthquake and covered with debris. The enormous tsunami like this was not predicted before and Mr. Hirata’s idea really saved the students’ lives. 

Posted on the, March 29, 2011
Summarized and translated by Makiko Asano

"Please hold their hand." Notes of a women whose boyfriend had lost his life in the New Zealand earthquake

How should we talk to those who are in the depth of sorrow following the death of their loved ones in Great Eastern Japan Earthquake?
"Please don't say 'Gambatte' (a Japanese word which means 'Work hard,' 'Do your best,' or 'Good Luck') to those affected. All I ask you to do is to hold their hand."  A 25-year-old nurse of Kanazawa City (Ishikawa Pref.) whose 27-year-old boyfriend, Haruki Hyakuman (Tsubata-machi, Ishikawa Pref.), had died in the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand in February 2011, wrote notes reflecting on her emotions while she has been coping with her loss.
Do not say "Gambatte."
I was in Japan and could not eat right after the New Zealand earthquake. I just could not eat when I thought my boyfriend remained trapped under rubble.  And it is very painful to think that there are many people are now experiencing what I had gone through.
Although my boyfriend is gone, I have my family, friends, and other people who support me.  They supported me in their desperate endeavor to protect me.  Some cried together with me, some hugged me, some listened to me without saying anything, and others said something funny to make me laugh while carrying their cross.
I believe there are people who had lost their family, friends, shelter from the rain, and everything they had.  Some people might have lost their will to live.  I have been there.  At such times, the words like "Gambatte" ("Work hard") and "Gambaro" ("Let's work hard") sound so demanding that they could put a strain on those suffering from their loss.  Everyone is working so hard to live their life to the fullest.
So do not say "Gambatte."  They must move on and live their life even when their loved ones are missing or die. By living without their loved ones, they are already working so hard.
But they should be able to breathe a little easier when somebody only touches their hand.  That would make them realize that they are not alone.  Please hold their hand or put your hand on their back if they are crying and quietly wait for them to speak.  They always will air out their feeling somehow, which would make them feel better.
I think they naturally should be able to 'work hard' to live when they understand there is a number of people who want to help them. When I lost my boyfriend, I came to think I was not alone.  And nobody said to me "Gambatte."
The fact that many people were supporting me made me feel I would try to work hard to live my life.
My fellow and senior nurses and doctors from the hospital where I work had headed for the affected areas to support disaster victims.  Everyone is willing to help those affected.  We want to save as many lives as possible.  We do not want anyone to feel pain and sorrow like me.  That is how we are feeling now.  

translation of the article by Sankei Shimbun, March 21, 2011