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.
|Period||14 times between June and November 2011|
|Region||Kesen District, Iwate Prefecture (Ofunato City, Rikuzentakata City, Sumita Town)|
|Activities||Clearing rubble from rice paddies, farm roads, and private homes, clearing debris, removing sediment from gutters or beneath houses, as well as cleaning and organizing photographs|
|Collaborators||Ofunato Shakyo Volunteer Center, Rikuzentakata Disaster Volunteer Center, Sumita Town, Non-profit Organizations NPO Aichi Net, and others|
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.
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.
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 than that) in ways that heavy machinery could not, and I was struck by the importance of such relief activities.
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.
When we removed sludge from gutters, the people who had asked us to do so thanked us and asked us to come again after the area had recovered. They also gave us snack called nabeyaki. I got a full sense of their appreciation for our help when I heard that nabeyaki is a local sweet which expresses gratitude.
A local resident who mistook me for another local told me that he was really grateful for the volunteers. I really felt the appreciation of local residents for the volunteers.