The following are excerpts from my Facebook album, which I updated daily while working in Ishinomaki.

May 17th

Each day that I spend here, I learn and experience something, but before I have the time to absorb, comprehend and understand what that something is, I have another experience fall upon me, and I feel like I'm running in that endless treadmill gig...

Today was the last day for Harada-san, who is the leader of the SDF team stationed right next to our cookout tent. He is a caring gentleman who would always stop by our tent in the morning just to say hi. He would then come back later and give us whatever extra supplies they had for the day. One time he came over to ask what we were preparing for the day, and when we replied: "Tonjiru (pork soup) without the pork..." He quietly came back later with a bag of pork which I think was not extra, but taken out from the portion they had set aside for themselves. Him and the men and women under him, are the ones who completely changed my image of the SDF.

Also today, Masako, one of the survivors who used to live in the evacuation center, invited us to her house. The Tsunami came up to about 4.5ft. above the floor in her place, but luckily, she was able to run to a safe building before the Tsuami arrived. She lived in the evacuation center for a while after the earthquake, but has since moved back to her house and now lives in the second floor. She shared with us her experiences from the day of the earthquake, and talked about her current situation. We then discussed what exactly it is that the survivors want now, and what kind of support is being requested, from their perspective.

Her entire neighborhood was evaluated by the city as "unfit for residence," so she has given up on staying in Ishinomaki and is planning on moving to Tochigi, where she has family. She has lost almost everything she owned, and must now leave the place where she has spent most of her life. Despite these circumstances, she said to us with a smile: "But, thanks to the Earthquake, I was able to meet all of you, and that is a wonderful gift. I am happy and proud to know that there are many young people like you still in this Country."

Well, another day, and I still can't catch up with comprehending my experiences...







copyright ©2011 arito photography