East Japan Earthquake    March 11, 2011

On-site report
Mobile Kids' Fest & Kick Back Cafe

May 3, 2011

The support team that went to Rikuzen-Takata this time around had more than 30 members. 2 cars, 1 micro-bus, and Mobile Kick Back Cafe left th evening of May 2nd.

Kids' Fest is a party for kids conducted every May and December at Kick Back, and it has been highly acclaimed by many people from Sengawa, where KBC is located.
The mission for this particular support team was to export the Kids' Fest from Sengawa to Rikuzen-Takata; this being the first time to do it away from KBC.
A diverse group of actors, musicians, magicians, and the Mobile KBC staff united together and headed eastward.

Early in the morning, the team arrived at Hirotamentary School, which is currently serving as the evacuation center for the Hirota region, and soon after their arrival they started preparing.
Many peopl may have seen the preparation process on NKH's TV show "Ohayo (Good morning) Japan".

For each Kids' Fest there is a theme and activities that coincide with it.
The theme for the Kids' Fest at Rikuzen-Tatkata was the forever popular "Ninja". Many ninjas gathered at Hirota Elementary School.
The sequence of events was that the children would go through a training session to become a real ninja. The training would consist of fun activities for the children.

The MCs for the show, "Osachi" and "Norizo", began with the "Ninja Stretch".
Then came the ninja magician. The ninja magician is a professional magician in real life. He had recently become part of the Kick Back family, and with his strong desire to help, was add to the team at the last minute.
The children, obviously, were excited to see real magic.

The morning was cold, but it turned out to be a very good day for such a show.
To our surprise, there were 4 groups of volunteers there.
Food stands, people in costumes, games and performances made the day one bi carnival.

Through the trainings/games, the children would gather points and with a certain amount of points they could get a "treasure".
There were presents prepared for the children, which was enabled by donations from many different parties, including the Shibasaki-syoten.

Little tin badges were made for this particular event by the company called Good Staff, which offered to donate the badges for the kids in the affected city.

Mobile Kick Back Cafe provided the evacuees with baked sweets, coffee, and organic strawberries provided by the company Tsuchinomegumi. The fresh seasonal fruit was welcomed by everyone.

The coffee beans were provided by the company Key Coffee. They made a non-sale blend just for the victims called "Ganbaro Tohoku Blend" (Don't Give Up Tohoku Blend).
It was so good that the owner exclaimed that he wanted to add it to the menu.

Those in the Hirota region who have become very close to us in the past few visits.
Susumu, whose story was shared in the last post, has become part of the team. He supported the team and worked very hard. He offered coffee and passed out fresh strawberries.

I t was a moment of fun and joy. With th nice weather, and the sound of children having fun, it seemed as if people had forgotten, for the time being, that they were victims of a natural disaster.
Looking up into the blue sky, there was a rainbow... One of the staff explained that what they were witnessing was something called iridescent clouds. Little known for his expertise in aerography, he surprised many with his knowledge. Many wer able to envision the restoration of the area during such a pleasurable time.

With children seeing off the suppor team, the team headed to a different region.

The next place the team went to was Takata Icchu, a local middle school.

Pastor Marre and his wife Kumiko went to the headquarters of the evacuation countermeasure center and met with the mayor , Mr. Toriha. Mayor Toriha is originally from Machida, Tokyo where Marre had lived a while back. This combined with them being the same age opened the door to a great conversation.

The mayor mentioned, "While the current attention that the victims are getting through volunteer work is great, this flow of people and attention could end at any time."
Marre said emphatically that he was determined to support the area as long as he could.

The book written by Marre, "The Sun Will Rise Again" ("Akenai-Yoru-ha-nai")", which the publisher Discover 21 had authorized free copies to be sent to the areas that suffered from this catastrophe were given to the mayor and other city office staff.

It has now become one of the most read books in Rikuzen-Takata.

The next place that the team used was the music room. Many children who are staying there gathered for the fun event.

Mobile Kick Back Cafe was located in front of the main entrance of the middle school and served coffee, baked sweets and organic strawberries, and a good number of people came.

The initial crowd was not very big, but by the time the day ended, the place was flooded with children.

Mr. Sasaki, who is a member of Save Takata, kindly helped coordinate this event.

The local evacuation center staff were astonished by the number of children that had gathered for this event.
When the event ended the children asked KBC members when their next visit was going to be. It is not the voice of Marre, the overseer of this effort, but it is our deepest desire to support and provide servic as many times as possible.


Some thoughts from Marre to end this report.

"Through the support of the city and its efforts to promote the event, those that had already left the evacuation center came back for the event. I was so glad to hear this.

Our team traveled to 2 places. At Takata First Middle School, the gymnasium serves as the evacuation center, enabling anyone to come in at any given moment. There have been some attempts to create privacy using cardboard as partitions, but privacy, nevertheless, is ver scarce.
I believe, that after a mere 2 month stay, living in this kind of environment would be very hard.

Even though Mobile Kick Back was providing services to the evacuees, there were some people who had lost so much strength that they couldn't even get up to get some food. Being aware of this, we went in and served those who were not able to come to Mobile Kick Back. In the evacuation center Mobile KBC member saw middle school students studying for their high school entrance exams, ladies who were lying in their area sick, and a few girls playing cards. Sometimes some of the volunteers star playing musical instruments.

There are many needs in this enclosed space, and no matter how great a motivation one may have, one little presumption can lead to one's effort becoming something obnoxious.

I sympathize with and respect those that are organizing events and handling multiple groups of volunteers.
Temporary housing is being built, but the planned housing will not suffice for everyone. My prayer is that the the living conditions they are currently in would improve as soon as possible.

On-site Report ----------------------

Kana's Hometown
A building stands in the rubble in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the area, March 13, 2011.

Rikuzen-Takata:5,000 Homes Under Water and 15,000 People Missing

On March 12th, the Self Defense Force of Japan started its rescue efforts of most all of the households of the city of Rikuzen-Takata that has been demolished by the recent earthquakes which is estimated at 5,000. From the rescue efforts in Takata area, the most damaged area, 52 bodies were recovered on the 12th, and on the 13th, 114 more bodies, totaling 166 in the 2 days. The rescue effort, however, has been slowed because of the debris blocking all traffic to the city whose population is 23,000. According to the task force of the city, roughly 8,000 people are staying in emergency evacuated areas. The city is doing what they can to locate the the rest of the population. The City Hall, a 4-story building, was engulfed by the tsunami and out of 300 workers there, the whereabouts of 100 employees hav not been determined. Also, the city resident registry has been lost causing difficulty in identifying who the victims are.
There has been some positive news as the Self Defense Force of Japan has been successful rescuing 37 people isolated from roofs of buildings. Rescue efforts will continue. (March 13, 7:48PM(JST), NHK)



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