Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tohoku summer trip 2013

For August of summer vacation, we decided to head north to Tohoku to volunteer and do a bike tour. Joan had made a friend, Kimura-san, at the Nippori farmers market in Tokyo who invited us up to Aizuwakamatsu to visit and help out.

We also wanted to volunteer again to help with earthquake and tsunami recovery, and Joan knew of a nonprofit called OGA for Aid that was operating in Minamisanriku, one of the hardest hit areas by the tsunami. They have a farm project that Joan was interested in learning more about. 

So we headed north to Sendai by Shinkansen bullet train and then bus to Minamisanriku because the train lines are still not working. The tsunami damage there was so total and horrific that I really don't want to write about it, but you can probably imagine how bad it was. 

Two plus years later, they are still struggling to recover and rebuild. However, where to build, who pays to rebuild, rebuild for what and who are all questions that are slowing things down. 

OGA has a farm project to help rebuild the economic community and provide jobs to locals. We helped harvest, process and package cucumbers, while getting to know OGA staff, local people and other volunteers. The days were long, but it was a good experience.