In April and May, representatives of all companies talked with people in the Kesen District of Iwate Prefecture and, after asking about their needs, agreed to provide joint support through volunteer activities by employees of the Toyota Group companies. Activities began in June. In the affected areas, activities focused on clearing rubble and debris, cleaning houses covered in sediment by the tsunami, and other activities aimed at bringing everyday life closer to normal.
In the second year after the disaster, with the local situation gradually settling down, activities slowly shifted toward revitalizing the local industry and enhancing day-to-day life through efforts such as maintenance around temporary housing, assisting with fishing operations, preparing farmland, and making flower beds.
To encourage local residents in their long and steady journey toward recovery, activities in our third year expanded beyond supporting everyday life to also include helping out at festivals, as well as activities to support tourism. We also held crafts classes for children, who have almost nowhere to play. Activities have shifted to a greater focus on interaction.
Yuko Sato, Kesen Office
Non-profit Organizations NPO Aichi Net
My house stands on an elevation overlooking Ofunato Bay. On this fine day, the sea is shining and very peaceful. It is hard to see it as the dark force that took away the town we knew and loved, as well as so many precious lives, in the blink of an eye when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck.
It has been three years since the earthquake.
In that time, various natural disasters have struck other parts of Japan. I have nothing but words of gratitude for all members of the Toyota Group who, even now, continue to reach out to the Tohoku region among the many regions in need of a helping hand. Thank you very much.
Over the last three years, 540 volunteers from the Toyota Group have come to the Kesen District (Ofunato City, Rikuzentakata City, and Sumita Town) that I call home.
For many of them, volunteering also led to coming to the Kesen District with family or friends. As just one example, the members of Coeur, who helped mend the oyster rafts in 2011, rented a bus and came from Aichi Prefecture in autumn 2013 to eat oysters from the first commercial catch since the earthquake. Also, seeing people connected on Facebook writing about their experiences in Kesen is extremely uplifting and encouraging.
People here have started saying things like “Volunteers from Toyota have come again! We're so grateful!”
The tsunami took away so much that was precious in the blink of an eye. However, I feel that it has also brought many bonds.
As time goes by, there is less and less media coverage of the earthquake, but restoring our towns will still take a long time.
While remaining grateful to the members of the Toyota group who, even now, continue to warmly reach out to us, I myself intend to value these irreplaceable bonds and to contribute to forging new ties.
Please get in touch if you consider visiting Iwate.
I look forward to our continued relationship. Thank you again and kind regards.