Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC)
With the hope that residents in the affected regions can return to their ordinary lives as soon as possible, 15 Toyota Group companies* are supporting volunteerism by employees participating in Great East Japan Earthquake recovery and support activities. Groups of around 15 employees travel from Aichi Prefecture to Iwate Prefecture by buses driven by members of the Bus Driving Service Club, an internal volunteer group, to assist recovery in high-need areas for five days at a time.
In addition, Toyota Group Disaster Volunteer Net was established in 2003 and trains volunteers to assist the recovery efforts of disaster victims and aid areas stricken by natural disasters through training seminars and hands-on events.
Removing debris carried by the tsunami
Debris was carried far and wide, including inside houses
Clearing a gutter blocked by sediment
Washing and organizing photographs
|Period:||14 times in June - November, 2011|
|Region:||Kesen district of Iwate Prefecture (Ofunato City, Rikuzentakata City, Sumita Town)|
|Participants:||Approximately 15 people each time; a total of around 200 people (planned)|
|Activities:||Clearing rubble from rice paddies, farm roads, private homes, clearing debris, removing sediment from beneath homes and in gutters, and cleaning and organizing photographs (conducted in collaboration with Aichi Net, non-profit organization).|
As five months had passed since the earthquake, I thought that recovery work in the affected regions would have made significant progress, but in fact, the scenes that I saw in many places looked exactly the same as those on the news immediately following the earthquake, and I realized just how much assistance was still needed. Nonetheless, I felt that the enthusiasm of the local residents helped to strengthen their efforts toward recovery.
I was very happy when the local residents thanked us. The memories I gained from participating in this program will remain with me always, and I hope to continue supporting the recovery efforts in the future whenever possible.
There was a major aftershock while we were clearing debris from underneath an affected resident’s house. The homeowner, who had been cheerful until then, was overcome with worry about a tsunami warning, and their concerned expression continued until we heard on the radio that there was no risk of a tsunami. I could not help but feel the harsh reality behind their smiling faces. I was moved by the sincerity of volunteers from overseas who worked enthusiastically in the disaster areas and the local residents who provided the volunteers with tea and snacks.
This program also became an opportunity for me to reexamine my own behavior.
Given the immense scale of the disaster, all that we volunteers could do was to shovel away as much rubble as we could, but working together with the local residents and talking with them, we became confident that we could contribute (sometimes even better) in ways that heavy machinery could not, and I was struck by the importance of such relief activities.
By participating in the recovery operations, I hoped to convey our strong convictions concerning the recovery and our constant awareness of safety to the local residents. This was truly a valuable experience.
I experienced the strength of the local residents who are working slowly but steadily toward recovery despite extremely trying circumstances. I felt tears welling up when a small child came up to me and offered me snacks. When I heard about people’s experiences and observed the afflicted region, my commitment to continue supporting the recovery was strengthened. I was also impressed with the unity and determination within the Toyota Group to support the disaster victims.
･ Removing sludge from gutters and moving debris was hard work, but by working together, we were able to complete these tasks. I realized just how serious conditions are in the disaster areas and how important the ongoing work is. I have tried to generate interest in support for the recovery by talking about my experiences with others.
･ Three of us from the Bus Driving Service Club, an internal volunteer group, drove a bus approximately 900 km over 10 hours to transport the volunteers to Iwate Prefecture. We also assisted in the activities of a local supporters’ association. I hope to continue bringing the volunteers safely to their destinations in the future.