I'm heading off Friday night for a quick stint to help in the cleanup effort in Ishinomaki in Tohoku. It is a city that was hard hit by the tsunami and the wave left a thick coating of sea mud, petroleum, sewage and other detritus festering under floorboards and over the town. Our school has made is so easy for parents and teachers to join, that I feel I must go, if only to wield a shovel for 3 days. YIS has connected us with Peace Boat, an NPO founded in the early 80s to foster travel and communication between citizens of different countries. After the March disaster, Peace Boat has focused on mobilizing and organizing volunteers in the Ishinomaki area, setting up food stations, donation storage warehouses and cleanup efforts. Foreigners are generally assigned the mud shovelling since it requires less skilled communication. The grunt work, so to speak.
I'm pretty much a wimp when it comes to manual labor, so I don't know how much good I will do, but I'll surely do better than if I didn't show up at all! We'll take an all night bus to start work on Saturday morning and then we'll take a shinkansen home late Monday night. I'm lucky to have the support of Papa Steve, friends, and a babysitter who will pick up the slack on the home front.
I've tried to talk myself out of it for so many reasons. Domestic duties, physical weakness, too much to do before leaving for the US on the 14th. It's been fascinating to watch my mind work!! But bottom line is that I want to witness what is happening up there for myself and contribute in some small way. I am hoping to do acupuncture and bodywork there at some point (and of course I'll travel with needles), but this is what I've been able to connect with so far.
(And don't worry friends and family, although it's a danger zone similar to a construction site, we'll be equipped with goggles, steel toe boots, and helmets, and we're over 80 miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant.)