Saturday I got up a few minutes after 4 a.m. again to get ready for volunteering near Ishinomaki. I don’t like getting up this early, but with more than two hours to go by car it is necessary to get work done before it’s time to go back. I was very curious how things had changed since my previous visit, so I started looking around as we drove through Ishinomaki. A lot of debris had been removed, but even more is still there. We had a ship in front of us on the road from Ishinomaki towards Kyuubunhama.
Our first stop was the Oginohama Middle School (荻浜中学校, here), where we met the rest of the team. This time I wasn’t the only foreigner: There were Koreans (who brought some boxes with relief goods sent by a church in Korea) and people from the Philippines and Malaysia. Two of the girls are also studying in Japan.
Around one hundred evacuees are still living in the school. The normal water supply is not yet restored, but they have a water tank next to the kitchen. I’m not sure how the school can hold classes under these conditions, but the baseball team was practicing on the sports ground when we arrived. In the school yard, two mobile phone providers had set up emergency equipment to provide coverage, apparently using satellite up-links (one pictured below, the second provider had a truck with antennas on the roof).
For me, the stay at the school was short: While most of us stayed at the school to prepare food, I went with a group that would help rebuilding an oyster farm. We parked at the same place as two weeks before, and I was happy to see that the house we cleaned up then had been patched up. Members of the self-defense forces were removing debris using heavy machinery nearby.
Our work for the oyster farm was done far away from the sea a bit further up the hill. The task was simple: putting shells on wire, with short pieces of plastic pipe between each two shells to keep them apart. 30 round shells, eight flat shells, then ask one of the ladies to add a rope for handling, again eight flat shells and 30 round ones and that’s it. The result looks like this:
Now you might wonder what purpose lining up shells has for oyster farming. The answer is that the shells will be used as substrate to grow the oysters on. To grow a significant number of oysters a large amount of shells is needed, and because these aquacultures were placed in the sea near the coast, you can imagine that they were badly hit by the tsunami. As far as I know, they have to be completely rebuilt. Another group of volunteers (I’m not sure from where), all wearing yellow jackets, were already there when we arrived, and together we made many of those sets.
Around lunch time some people from our cooking joined us to distribute what they had made, and feed us, too. People from the neighboring houses came over to pick up lunch. If I understood the break time conversation correctly, the village’s normal electricity and water supply will be restored early next month. Right now, they have a well filled water tank next to the tents that serve as emergency headquarters and I also saw a solar power supply. Short after lunch it was already time to pack up and get back to the school and then towards home. It was late afternoon when I arrived, and our friends from Tokyo and Saitama had a much longer way to go…