Golden Week Volunteering 2012: Part 1 - Sanriku Ditches

I went back to Ofunato this golden week. This time however I was in a rather large company of ALTs who wanted to join me. There were two who had been before but all the rest were first timers.

P1290629Even more surprising is that most of them were first year ALTS.
They did not experience the earth moving violently under their feet. They did not sit dumbstruck watching the waves live on TV. They didn’t deal with the panic chaos in the weeks after that day in March. But they came along, and they sweated and worked and did some wonderful work.

Day one had us tired and wired from a long night drive up the Touhoku expressway and at our request, they gave us the heavy lifting job.

Yep. I was back in the ditches and the ditches in Sanriku town were the most challenging I have encountered yet. filled to the brim with mud and gunk.

We got a system going however and before long we had managed to take care of a good 20 meters. There were a group of volunteers who came in for half a day who took care of the other side of the road, but  I was surprised at how much more ground we managed to cover with our small group. It goes to show that efficiency is king.

In the end though it is not about who digs more. It’s about the digging. There is so much to be done and it can only be done by hand. I commend everyone who made the effort.
That said though. This being my 4th trip up there and it being just over a year after the big day. The mood was much lighter than it was last year. Despite the seriousness of what we were doing and the seriousness of what caused all the damage, It did feel like a holiday. which for me anyway, was a refreshing change. I also knew the area, system and how to do most of the tasks we had to do that day.
The warm weather, and seafront location definitely didn’t take away from the upbeat start to our trip. Despite the very visible reminders of just what that beautiful ocean can do when it rises up in force.
The ocean was not the only natural beauty that awaited us in Iwate however. Being further north than Gunma, their seasons turn a little later than ours and as a result we were treated to a second dose cherry blossoms. Epic win all around then… to be continued…

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