One month has passed since the first earthquake in Kumamoto on April 14
Although one month has passed, it is still far from the recovery of people's daily life--because aftershocks have been continued.
Since the enormous power of earthquakes hit Kumamoto Prefecture on April 14 and 16, the aftershocks have been continuing to its regions in May, in some cases with 20 to 30 times of tremor in just one day. The number of the quakes has now amounted to over 1,400 times. While the number of evacuees was reduced to 10,400, that of the houses reportedly damaged was to 77,000 and over as of May 16. The Mashikimachi Sogo Undo Koen (Mashiki Town General Athletic Park) and the Mifunemachi Sports Center (both operated by Kumamoto YMCA as a designated manager according to Local Government Act),have been used as shelters since the first quake and Aso YMCA as a volunteer center, to which a number of staff and leaders of YMCA in Japan are coming and working for the citizens in Kumamoto.
At Youth Leaders' Training of West Japan held annually in May, the volunteer leaders joined throughout the country and conducted a work camp.
The YMCA and Y's Men's Clubs of Japan have tied and dedicated together to raising donations and assistance necessary for the disaster areas in Kumamoto.
Work at the site of destroyed houses in Aso regions
At the disaster volunteer center established on April 26 in Aso YMCA, 380 volunteers of YMCA and other cooperative bodies, throughout Japan and overseas, gathered (as of May 8). They cleaned rubbles from collapsed housing and rooms for aged and disabled citizens, and helped picking berries for the strawberry firms, improving green housing, and repairing water way for paddy fields (The volunteers gave the citizens in the disaster areas a great help in totally 40 needs).
Ten students from 4 universities came to be volunteers from Student YMCA in Kyushu regions (Kyushu--comprising 7 prefectures, including Kumamoto and Oita). One among them from Kumamato University YMCA Karyo-kai--who was involved in setting up the volunteer center from the beginning--mentioned that he felt very sad when meeting the people (in the work with "clean-up" of their houses) who lost their "sweet" home, and that he had a difficult time to stay close to the pain of their hearts. Considering the opinions from the students gained from the people's grief, Aso YMCA will continue to support and care for the minds of the citizens while accepting volunteers to meet the needs in the relevant regions.
Children Have Cheered Up the People in A Prolonged Life at Shelters
In Mashiki Town with serious damage suffered, more than 1,500 evacuees have used shelters at the Mashikimachi Sogo Undo Koen and its gymnastic hall. For the people to be able to spend the time at the shelters more pleasant, YMCA started group activities by asking children to help their neighbors in the places.
The group called "Waku-waku Work-Tai"(literal translation is Excited Work Team) is actively working for a clean-up of the places, a delivery of newsletters, and services at a volunteer cafe. Their activities are very much appreciated and favored by the grown-ups at the shelters--because the people could learn something, "power" or energy, from the smiles and self-actions of children working so hard and cheerfully.
May 5 was Children's Day. On this occasion, gifts of carp streamers were delivered to Mashiki Town from Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, wishing that children in Mashiki be courageous and enjoy celebrating the national holiday. Youth Leaders and the Waku-waku Work-Tai used this opportunity by making a plan, in which they collected messages from the people in the shelters, and wrote their messages, such as Gamadaze, or Let's Do Our Best, Hope for the Future, etc., on the streamers. The carp streamers with the messages were then paraded inside the shelters, and hoisted high on poles. As seen from the picture, the streamers presented from Ishinomaki flew up in the sky over the ground of the Undo Koen Park in Mashiki Town.
Stay Healthy with Rhythmic Daily Life at Mifunemachi Sports Center
Even now 130 people continue the evacuation life at the Mifuneachi Sports Center in which 250 people were taken from just after the earthquake disaster. Here every day starts with exercises in the morning. As their evacuation life is prolonged in an unfamiliar surrounding, especially for senior people, their stress is big and they are liable to lack exercises.So people in the shelter are making some time exercising, trying to rhythmize their daily life. The exercises are led by Kumamoto YMCA staff members twice in a day--once in the morning and the other in the afternoon, so that they would not get suffered from economic syndrome.
On the other hand, children are actively playing the important roles in the centers, in helping carry foods and supplies. As they decorated carp streamers on Children's day of May 5, they also worked for the events on Mother's Day--the second Sunday in May. In this way, children are trying to help make the people in the shelter brighter and relaxed.
Give Us Some More Time, So That We Can See You with Smile
Kumamoto YMCA, with its local 14 establishments, started to work for people, immediately after the initial quake. Since then, one month has passed. Although they too are the victims and many of their establishments are still damaged by the quakes, they are gathering their efforts to helping the people in the areas on alert. However, their general operation has been halted under constraint to do so by natural disasters.
On April 29, two weeks past the first quake, Kumamoto YMCA posted a message, "Give Us Some More Time, So That We Can See You with Smile" on the local paper, in which YMCA promised to reunite with children and their parents, students of their college including those from overseas, and their regular members. The readers reacted to this message--transmitted through the country by means of social networking systems--by saying we were "moved" or "impressed."
Fortunately, we could now have reopened all general programs and classes since May 10, thanks to genuine efforts offered by many parties concerned. Although the disasters damaged some football grounds and facilities, the entire staff members, including Y' leaders, would like, with wisdom, to go forward to another step for the things to get back to normal.
All-at-Once YMCA Fund-Raising Action with Japan, Asia, and the World---Thinking of Children and Youths Affected by Natural Disaster
On May 14 (Sat) and 15 (Sun) in one month past the initial earthquake, over 74 places in Japan, the fund-raising activities of Japan YMCA were conducted on the street with the message, "We Never Forget You." In these activities, 1,100 people from preschoolers to senior persons participated, and passersby sincerely offered their donations. This funding activity--first called upon by Japan YMCA--has now been spreading to other countries, as a campaign to think of close children and youths suffered by natural disasters. We must remember that there are children in a situation where a natural disaster leads them directly into poverty. Even under the adverse situation by the disaster, hopes for the future remain bright and each one of us should be taken good care of--that is what makes YMCAs in the world come together and act for.