震災から半年過ぎました。被災支援開始から5ケ月です。お抹茶、手工芸、ハンドマッサージ、ネイルケア、そして全国の人々愛の詰め合わせを避難所に届けました。

9月に、ようやく仮設住宅でサロンを開催しました。避難所で会った方に再会しました。しかし、先週は、女川ではまだ避難所生活。避難所には、100名も残っておいででした。10月末に仮設住宅の完成予定です。


南三陸町で、夏草に覆われた消防自動車

これまで全国の方と一緒に、宮城各地を訪ねました。被災を見て伝えて欲しいのです。さすがに日を追って被災地風景は、表情が穏やかになっています。夏草が消え去った住居後を被っているのです。緑多い長閑な過疎地に見えてしまいます。

「違う!違う!ここは住居が並んでいたのよ。沢山の人々の生活があったのよ」と必死に説明しました。

また複数の方より「被災地の販売作品はありませんか」と声掛け頂きました。でもまだようやくお針箱や、ミシンをお渡した段階で、販売できる作品まで至っていません。再開した海苔屋さん以外に販売できるものはありません。

被災地と遠い県の方々を結んで思うことがあります ― 現地が切望しているテンポで支援の道具が集まる訳ではないこと。遠くの方が思うほど、販売品を作れる環境ではないことを ―。

「だからこそ伝えなくては」と思います。「そうか被災者のアドボカシーなんだ、DVの支援と同じだな」と思います。ささやかな励ましですが「楽しかったよ、仮設になっても来てね」と言われます。もちろん行きたいと思います。

Six Months Since the Disaster

Six months have passed since the disaster. During the past five months since we launched our post-disaster support action, we have delivered to the evacuation shelters tea, handicrafts, hand massage and manicure services, along with various other gifts full of care from people across the country.

In September, we finally opened the long-anticipated salon at the temporary housing, where we had a happy reunion with familiar faces from evacuation centers. On the other hand, as of mid-September, about 100 people were still living in evacuation centers in Onagawa. Temporary houses were to be completed for them to move in at the end of October.

Over the last several months, we’ve visited places across Miyagi Prefecture along with people from all around Japan. I want them to tell stories of what they saw, once back at home. In Miyagi, time seems to have healed the damages inflicted by the disaster. Overgrown summer grass now obscures the traces of houses destroyed by tsunami, casting a calm image of under-populated countryside. At such moments of illusion, I’d desperately explain to the visitors, “No, no! There were houses lining up here. A lot of people used to live here and called this place their home.”

Meanwhile, we’ve also had several inquiries from outside Miyagi, asking for goods made by the survivors. Buying local products is an effective way to support the economy of the devastated region. Unfortunately, however, we just managed to deliver sewing kits and sewing machines to the women in Miyagi, and still have a way ahead before we’d be able to sell goods. The only local products that can be sold are lavers.

As we try to connect people of Miyagi and those from other areas of Japan, I realized about a few things. For one, material supplies necessary for reconstruction do not always reach those intended hands as quickly as people in need hope. Likewise, it takes more time for the towns hit by the disaster to recover enough to manufacture goods than the people outside would imagine.

We need to continue speaking out to let them know what we go through every day. We advocate for the needs of the people who are struggling to rebuild their lives, and that is just the same as advocating for domestic violence victims, which is what we do.

We often receive encouraging words from women of Miyagi we support. “It was fun to be with you. We’ll move into temporary shelters, but come see us sometime, okay?”

Of course, I’m delighted to visit them in their new homes.

Etsuko Yahata, Miyagi Jo-Net

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