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This day started with a positive note, chatting with several positive and strong survivors who are determined to stand up and rebuild again.
It was a nice and sunny day out, and we went to several shelters to ask for their needs.
While walking, we noticed that the shops on the hill are open, but they have very long queues and everyone seem patient.
All the schools are turned into relief shelters, and the first school (Yamashita Elementary School) we went to had ample food, drinking water, electricity, and they needed Heating oil, running water and gasoline (for cars) Looking at the several Gyms and rooms housing over 400 survivors, this location seemed pretty ok, and there are portable toilets deployed. The survivors are mainly sleeping, chatting or watching TV. Then, my heart sank suddenly as we saw the following scene.
It was a large graveyard and yet every available location was dug up. It was rather hard to explain when you look at the area and simply find hundreds of new graves being dug. The mood became rather solemn in the area and the once calm and peaceful graveyard now reminds you of what has just happened... The hundreds or thousands that are killed here.
This is the first time I was reminded of the deaths that occurred here as we were much focusing on helping the survivors to focus on the deaths. We took a moment to compose ourselves and proceeded on foot to other shelters. The other shelters were also well stocked in supplies, however, with continual probing, we found that the first shelter with more than 1000 people needed pants and underwear. Japanese culture dignifies the people and they will never ask unless it is of absolute need. (Food and drinking water) Beside that, they will use what they have. But I would say, a family running away from the Tsunami, and having their homes totally destroyed will only have 1 set of change, and they will not ask, but if you bring them clothes, they will accept. There is still no running water in the shelters, and people cannot do laundry. The smell of pee among the old people is very obvious, and I would really like to help, but felt helpless. I chatted with an old man who lost his children, and he was rather anxious to find them, and he has still not given up hope. I guess after 10 days, everyone is more calm now, and have come to terms with their loss. These survivors are strong and brave people who have endured a lot. In the day, only the young and old remains at the shelter while the adults either volunteer to help in the cleaning efforts or are out there cleaning their houses and stores. As evening comes, the team decided to take a stroll outside.
The streets are completely dark and deserted, there was still no street. It is going to be a cold night too -- below freezing.
Well at least we will be distributing free fuel to families, hopefully thing can return to normal start a normal life againl
-- Robin Low