We arrived early just before sign-ups began at 9am, wrote our names, addresses (volunteering is now limited to Hiroshima residents only), and cell phone numbers. We were then given volunteer insurance and told to wait for instructions. We were interviewed by a few reporters (in Japanese) while we waited about where we were from and why we volunteered. The first question I was asked by a few reporters was quite a surprise: “Since today’s volunteer activity is limited to Hiroshima only, so why are you volunteering today?” My answer was of course because I do live in Hiroshima, this is my community and I want to help my fellow community members if I can. It’s great to show, in our actions, that members of the international community care. I did mention that it was difficult to get information and am very grateful to the volunteering expertise of Kaz Meiki who told us where to meet and how best to prepare.
Mark Exton, principal of the Hiroshima international school had initially passed on the invitation and Dr.Yas Ikegami joined up as well. I never would have known about this day of volunteering if not for these great people. It’s not hardcore ‘clean-up’ right at the frontline, so it never ever felt dangerous…and we hardly saw a hard hat all day. We helped clear a street corner so cars can turn and then spent the rest of the day helping a family clear out the drainage gullies around their house: there is a huge amount of mud everywhere! We were just making the tiniest contribution towards getting people’s lives back to some semblance of normality. If this 53-year old desk jockey can do it, so can most of you! Mark Exton, Hiroshima International School
no images were found
no images were foundOnce the official day of volunteering started, we were separated into groups of 10 by where we were sitting in order of registration and asked to decide a leader, and sign another form with our names and cell phones. Our leader was told to blow a whistle if there were a warning of landslide, earthquake or bad weather. The self-defense force veteran who volunteered to act as the leader of our group was fantastic. He was great in talking with locals to find specific needed areas to work on, organized our breaks and made sure we were taking turns at the shovels and not killing ourselves.
Amongst us was an elementary school teacher, a junior high school teacher and three of her students, Mazda
There didn’t seem to be sharp or dangerous things in what we cleared, but the more severely damaged areas would have different debris. Dust was also not an issue on the day I volunteered, but after a few dry days, goggles and a mask will likely be necessary. You can buy all of this gear at “Yoshimura Joy” DIY shop near the registration (if the volunteer center doesn’t have any for you to borrow). If you can get there by public transportation it would be best- there is a train to Bairin station on Kabe line which is nearest, but may be closed still (Midorii would be closest in that case) you can walk from there. There are also buses to Yagi that pass right in front of the Volunteer center. There were many being dropped off by friends and family (probably best).
If you have some Japanese and it looks cloudy or is raining lightly, call ahead to the volunteer center below to ask if they will be going ahead that day. However, since registration starts at 9am and they close registration once they reach the daily quota of volunteers, if the weather looks clear I’d recommend getting to the registration by 8:30 to make sure you are allowed to volunteer. There is still so much to be done.
- water bottle (some water is provided, but it’s not enough for the whole day)
- change of clothes (especially if you are going home by public transport) and slippers or change of footwear (plastic bags for your dirty clothes and shoes good idea too)
- hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, head/neck towel
Good to have:
- long (waterproof) trousers, long sleeves
- rubber (waterproof) gloves
- sturdy work boots
- goggles and a mask (it can get dusty on dry days)
- your own tools- shovel
Asa-minami-ku Volunteer Center Assembly Location: Hiroshima city, Asa-minami-ku, Nakasu 1 chome, “Sōgō Fukushi Sentā”
Address in Japanese: 広島市安佐南区中須一丁目1―38―13 安佐南区総合福祉センター(JP) 09:00-17:00 Tel: 080-2931-3142 and 080-2931-3242 Fax: 082-831-5031 Google MAP
Asa-kita-ku Volunteer Center Assembly Location Asa-kita-ku Social Welfare Center 3-19-22 Kabe, Asa-kita-ku Contact (JP) 09:00-17:00 Tel: 080-2931-4242 Fax: 082-814-1895
See more photos of the #hiroshimalandslide on the GetHiroshima Flickr album #creativecommons
- Read about Daniel James’ volunteer experience in the Yagi area. #dirtybootschallenge
- Volunteer Recruitment Information in Japanese on Shakyo-Hiroshima website
- Volunteer information in Japanese on the Hiroshima City Government Website
- Mainichi News Story – 1st Day Volunteering at the Hiroshima Landslide
- NikkanSports article about our day of volunteering in Yagi, Asa-minami-ku