More than 1,900 aftershocks have been counted within last 3 months since the earthquake. In 2015, the total number of earthquakes in Japan as a whole was 1,842 times, and the Kumamoto earthquake alone has exceeded this nation-wide number.
Construction of temporary housing is in progress, but there are still 4,700 people in evacuation centers. In Mashiki town, temporary housing for 516 families, which is the largest complex in the prefecture, has been completed, and despite challenges of transportation and being far away from city-center, solutions of increasing bus service and inviting new supermarket to the area has led to acceptance of residents to move into this temporary housing complex. The recovery process for these residents are slowing starting with their new homes.
In one of the most affected schools, Tsumori Primary School, a Swimming lesson was held by YMCA staff. At this school, opening of the swimming pool was delayed for 3 weeks due to damages to water pipes, and teachers are trying hard to adjust curriculum schedule so that children can still receive all classes planned. However, gymnasium at this school is still closed due to destruction of the roofs and walls, and school lunch is substituted by bento boxes provided by a local company.
"Turn your arm in a big circle", Miho Tashiro is a 4th year student at Kumamoto Gakuen University and also a swimming teacher for children and adults at Minami YMCA sport center. She looks back that day of the earthquake as "it was really difficult to move due to big wave created in the swimming pool."
Miho dreams of pursuing a profession that relates with children, and with such passion, she volunteered to teach primary school students how to swim. "Just knowing how to float will prevent drowning, I believe there is more I can do for these children who can't swim", she shared when asked her motivation for her volunteerism.
67 years ago, a boat capsized during Tsumori Primary School's excursion trip, and 24 people, including students, teachers, and medical staff, died. From lessons of this accident, 'Life Skill' classes at this school began. YMCA staff are also sending messages,"Feel the preciousness of life, and learn how to protect it", to these children. The students learned how to float and swim, with breathing techniques this day. They enjoyed these easy-to-understand lessons, and for the first time, all the five Primary Schools in Mashiki-town will take in these lessons .
Kosuke Sato, principal at Tsumori Primary School, shared that approximately 30-40% of 89 students faced with either partial or complete destruction of their houses. "Some live with their neighbors or in relatives'houses, and some in partially destroyed houses or in yard houses," he explained. "Even if they recover their normal school life, what they face outside is still very challenging and some complain their difficulty to sleep." Swimming is one of the highlights for the children in the summer, and we sincerely hope more smiles can be generated, which can contribute to more recovery strengths of this community.