The collapsed roofing of the gymnasium in Mashiki-town has been fixed, and now the gymnasium offers a space with cardboard beds, mattress, Tatami (Japanese floor mat), with curtains to ensure privacy. The roof cover, which is meant to ease the fear from falling objects and to make air-con cooling circulation more efficient, was set up by 140 volunteers from Y's Men's Club, a supporting organization to YMCA's work.
'It's really refreshing', Ms. Fukuoka who just finished bathing told us. Her house was completely collapsed, and she shared that she went to see the collapsed house today for the first time. Until now, family members have discouraged her from going there as it is not safe for elderly to visit the site. Everything, including Buddhist Altar, is still in the rubble, and when she saw her house completely flattened to the ground, she shuddered in a shock. The 25th anniversary of her husband's death is coming up in August, but she is still not sure whether they can go ahead and hold this. Ms. Fukuoka's son, who she lives together, is looking for a housing that she can relocate, but still no luck as they have a pet with them. She shared that it is also very stressful to move to a new place from the place where she just got used to.
Ms. Matsumoto became certified care worker after going through the course at YMCA. Damage to her house was limited, but seeing other houses around her destroyed and seeing the misery of the people in the community, it was 'heart-breaking' and she felt 'desperate to help others'. When she was searching for her role amid the relief needs, YMCA approached and proposed her to offer her skills to assist others.
Mr. Watanabe also completed the course at YMCA, and decided to come as a volunteer to help the elderly evacuees to bathe. The motivation he says, is 'wanting to see these people smile once again.'For elderly care, according to another graduate from YMCA course on certified care worker, 'it is important to show the same faces instead of making them cope with high turnovers of short-term volunteers'. This also implies how much local volunteers play a key role for these elderly as they
will accompany throughout the recovery process.
Humanitarian assistance is not just to have professional systems in place, but 'humanity' within all those involved a lot. Expertise and humanity, the examples from Kumamoto indicating the best mix of these elements, is prerequisite for effective humanitarian assistance.