Shelley's trip to Minami Sanriku

Dear Everyone On behalf of Ohana International School, I would like to thank you all for your generous donations that I delivered to evauation centres in Ishinomaki and Minami Sanriku last weekend. To put what I saw has been really difficult and I will write it below in prose as I feel it says more and leaves something to the imagination.

For those of you on FB you can see a note that I posted with some photos and here I have chosen to rather attach only photos of the children who received our T-shirts and the micro-scooters which were donated by Michael Gertler from Micro-scooters; together with some photos of them on TV 4 yesterday with Sakana san who was visiting the Bayside Arena in Minami Sanriku at the same time as we were.

The water, toilet paper, food and gas cookers were given to OGA for Aid for distribution to evacuation centres and individuals in Minami Sanriku.

The clothes, toys, toiletries, cleaning ware, bedding etc were given to the evacuation centre in Ishinomaki where we had lunch.

Everything was deeply appreciated and it was so good to be able to give something from Ohana International school on behalf of those of you who donated ...thank youso so much!

On Saturday I spent 6 hours working with a team of 6 men from Deutsche Bank cleaning out a house. The gentleman who owned the house is 75 years old and he kept pace with us all day long; working with us as we took out masses of debris which included waterlogged tatami, cushions, futons; a carpet that was soaked in mud and took us one hour to remove as it was so heavy. We salvaged photos which was all that he wanted to keep. I spent an hour with him underneath a tilted dresser, pulling plates and bowls out of the mud - all undamaged other than dirty - he had soooo much crockery which amazed me. While I was working with him, I asked him how he felt as we worked together and cleaned and he said: Daijobu! Chikara ga arimasu! I am fine. I must be strong. A man of courage and there are so many of them.

In the end we threw out a fridge, all cupboards and side shelving as well as the sink in the kitchen. We cleared all the debris; while upstairs was untouched.

It was a mammoth job and our team worked so amazingly well together. We found a trolley and a wheelbarrow and carted the things from the house to the open space across the road which was a dumping area. We had words of encouragement for one another throughout the day and each time we had a really heavy load to move, we had words that we said together to give us more physical strength......which we needed.

At the end of the day, he said to us that he didnt know how to thank us and we all bowed and thanked him.

We spent the night in a hotel in Minami Sanriku that has become a home for electricity workers and no longer operates as a hotel. Evacuees in the area are allowed to come and use the ofuro which was a heaven sent treat for us at the end of a hard days work. We were not allowed to use the water or toilet in the room and had to use the portaloos outside - 5am in the morning! On our way to the hotel we passed a small port area of Minami Sanriku which is now just debris.......a tilted concrete structure stands as a monolith and there is literally nothing else.

The next morning we awoke to an amazing sunrise across the ocean that looked so calm and soothing and yet a month before had been filled with destruction and power; and destroyed lives ...respecting nothing as it travelled miles in land. We off loaded things to OGA for Aid and drove into Minami Sanriku not knowing what awaited us......

We looked with our eyes and we saw something

We looked with our eyes and we saw nothing

We looked with our hearts and we felt something

We looked with our hearts and our feelings were endless

We listened with our ears and heard something

We listened with our ears and didnt want to hear something

The clank clank of the metal and debris blowing in the wind

We looked and we heard and we felt

There is nothing and yet there is something

There is life and yet there is no life

The message that I can bring to you all and please spread the word is; they need people. They need people to help clean their towns that are overloaded with rubble and mess. They have many things but seeing people coming to their towns to show that they care and want to help is what means more than anything to them.

I have a wonderful contact in Minami Sanriku. We met a lovely Philippino lady who helped us with the Micro-scooter donation and I called her yesterday and their immediate needs are child car seats and canes for old people to walk with. I will go up again but am not sure when and welcome anyone who would like to make the trip. It is a 4 1/2 hour drive there and back and the highway has its own scars from the quake; with many bumps along the way.

There is nothing in life that is more satisfying than giving......of yourself!

Much love and deepest thanks for your support always

Love Shelley