Tohoku Work Party......?

StuInTokyo

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Dec 3, 2010
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#1
I think it was discussed here somewhere that at some point it would be great to head north and try and help in some way for the many people up there that have had their lives shattered. In helping out the CMAT crew that was on the scene for a week or so doing what they could, I got a real sense that if we can help we should. The CMAT guys left me their generator, as they could not transport it back on the plane. I have a workshop full of tools and some know how in carpentry, electrical and plumbing, as well as welding and car/motorcycle mechanics. I would be very willing to head north with a van fully stocked with tools, some materials and some muscle to get stuff done.

I have no idea how this would come about, who to contact etc, but I have a desire to do this, so I'm hoping this thread could work as a place to toss around ideas etc, contacts too.

I've also heard the idea of getting any donated bicycles repaired and ready to go and taking them north, their gasoline shortage problem will be fairly long term I think, and I'm sure a lot of bicycles got destroyed in the tsunami. We could also head north with tubes tires and other parts and just fix existing bicycles.

The floor is open, suggestions and comments are welcome.

Cheers! :D
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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Yokohama
#2
Stu.... Im also very interested, Qualified electrician and handy when it comes to things. Im in contact with a group here in Yokohama that have already been up North several times and Im organising donations for them in my local area and work so we could jump on board with them if needed?
 

StuInTokyo

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Dec 3, 2010
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#3
Stu.... Im also very interested, Qualified electrician and handy when it comes to things. Im in contact with a group here in Yokohama that have already been up North several times and Im organising donations for them in my local area and work so we could jump on board with them if needed?
Yeah, whatever gets it done I guess!
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#4
I just got back from Kesennuma where my in-laws live, and I can confirm that going forward one of the pressing needs will definitely be manpower. Just cleaning up the mud is a massive task in itself.

Some of you already saw this attached pic on Facebook, but it shows the street in front of the building my parents-in-law owned. This spot is almost 2km from the harbor, but even so the ground floor was submerged up to 1m in seawater. Mud, wreckage, and smashed up cars are everywhere--and this was nothing compared to the devastation around the port where they had their shop.

I know one guy in a client company who just got back from a week volunteering in Sendai, shoveling mud out of homes--I'll write him and ask how he got hooked up with the work. This is stating the obvious probably, but it's important to be self-sufficient if going up there; no one is in danger of starvation or dehydration anymore, but there are acute shortages of everything, including places to sleep. Going as part of an organized group would ensure not becoming a burden on the infrastructure up there.

The gasoline problem, incidentally, appears to be getting fixed in the region, at least in Kesennuma. There were more gas stations open there, and shorter lines, than anywhere else I saw north of Fukushima (on the highway and in Ichinoseki). My guess is they are prioritizing deliveries to the harder hit areas, although I can't speak for anywhere else along the coast.

Bicycles are still definitely handy though, as lots and lots of people had their cars washed away. My father-in-law lost his plus his shop's moped, but has already bought a new (used) car and is waiting on delivery. In the meantime, he's getting around on a bike that belonged to a former tenant who was killed in the tsunami.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#5
By the way - <we> do have an NPO which could be used as a funnel. It's Bicycles For Humanity. This could give us credentials as a Japanese NPO to help in this area. If anyone here is interested please contact me! Especially we could utilize corporate contributions in a very direct and transparent manner to achieve results in this area. Some ideas:

1) Bike recovery - we gather old and mucked up bikes there and restore them. Then hand them to anyone that wants a workable bike.

2) Bike donation - we gather bikes here in Tokyo and send to fukushima.

3) Sponsored work party - under the B4H we are granted credentials to assist humanitarian efforts. Since we are Japanese NPO, its much easier to participate directly.

Ideas ideas???
 

andy_w

Warming-Up
Feb 4, 2009
143
4
0
Tokyo
tri-japan.blogspot.com
#7
Shovelling mud and donating bikes sounds like a very useful response. Like everyone else i want to help out the people affected by the tsunami and quake. So far I have donated blankets and some clothes, but only after the centers stopped collecting due to the massive response.
I came to he conclusion that I should not go north without being in an organized group who are self sufficient and have a specific task to carry out. so far I have not found any such group. And my lack of Japanese language would mean I would only add to the problems.

I am about to go on my long time arranged tour of Kyushu which I feel guilty about now. How can I cycle around having fun when people in tohoku have lost so much?

If there is an organized volunteer group for non Japanese speakers heading out in the next few weeks please post here.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#8
I'm looking into this now - but currently all their efforts are focused on basic needs. Once that has more progress, then we shuold be ok to start organizing second and third round of activities. Remember - the whole region was devastated - it's not going to be 'fixed' anytime soon - perhaps not for years. This does give us time to prepare properly here - and I'd suspect no earlier than say June or July based on feedback I've gotten thus far. But - we could start some preliminary meetings and get a plan together. Then raise support funds or materials based on that, along with volunteers.
 

StuInTokyo

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Dec 3, 2010
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#9
Shovelling mud and donating bikes sounds like a very useful response. Like everyone else i want to help out the people affected by the tsunami and quake. So far I have donated blankets and some clothes, but only after the centers stopped collecting due to the massive response.
I came to he conclusion that I should not go north without being in an organized group who are self sufficient and have a specific task to carry out. so far I have not found any such group. And my lack of Japanese language would mean I would only add to the problems.
Andy I very much agree with what you are saying above and I feel the same way.

andy_w said:
I am about to go on my long time arranged tour of Kyushu which I feel guilty about now. How can I cycle around having fun when people in tohoku have lost so much?
Some may not agree with me, but I think you have to go on your tour and enjoy yourself and spend some money, I think that the areas not affected by the quake and tsunami need to return to normal as soon as possible and really work hard at revving up the economy, that is the only way, long term, that we can rebuild Tohoku.


andy_w said:
If there is an organized volunteer group for non Japanese speakers heading out in the next few weeks please post here.
Yep, that is one of the purposes of this thread :D
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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Yokohama
#11
What Stu said is spot on....don't stop living your life. Working, spending money puts cash in to the system that helps in the long run.
 

StuInTokyo

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Dec 3, 2010
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#12
Today, on my way home from picking up some paper work at the hospital, I stopped by the starting point for the Half-Fast crew's charity ride, I met Satohi san, who is raising the money to help her hometown of Ishinomaki, and got to talking about what can be done. I told her about the idea of giving bike, or fixing busted bikes. She said that while it is a great idea, bicycle are pretty much useless right now, the roads are covered with mud, what road are open and other debris, basically a bicycle is not the way to get around. Down the road it would be great, but right now, it does not seem like a good idea.

Mostly they need help cleaning out the houses that did survive and fixing them up so they are habitable.

Food for thought.
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#13
There was a piece on the news tonight about volunteering. Some towns in the afflicted areas are setting up volunteer centers that match applicants (requesting help) with volunteers; in places where those centers are set up, there are way more requests than help available.

As above, volunteers have to look after themselves; ie. bring their own tents/campers/cars to sleep in, as well as food and cooking arrangements. (Or stay in hotels inland of the areas, providing they have enough gas to travel back and forth).

List of volunteer centers:

http://www.shakyo.or.jp/saigai/pdf/20110330_02.pdf

The ones marked with the double circle ( ◎ ) are accepting volunteers from out of prefecture, although if the volunteers are 100% self-sufficient then I'm sure the others would be glad to have the help also.
 
Jan 13, 2010
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0
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Victoria, BC
#14
Another group worth looking into is Foreign Volunteers Japan:
http://www.foreignvolunteersjapan.org/

I'm starting to think I might bike down the whole east coast of Touhoku (except any exclusion zone) if I come to Japan this summer. I'd show the ongoing recovery with an emphasis on how that process would not be finished for years and how people living elsewhere on the Ring of Fire (like my hometown of Victoria) need to prepare for more than a few days without supplies and infrastructure.
 
Aug 20, 2010
76
25
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Minato-ku
#15
Golden Week Volunteering

I was considering heading-up this weekend/early next week for some days to shift sludge (or whatever else needs to be done). However, I've heard that there is a danger of there being too many volunteers.

I wanted to ask if anyone from the forum has been up and can offer any advice or if they know of a particular organisation that requires 2 bilingual volunteers.

Thanks,
NN