Although the cherry blossom season was over in Tokyo and the new green leaves had already appeared on the branches, there were bush warblers singing in Kesennuma, and the cherry trees were in full bloom. In contrast to this gentle scene were the piles of disaster refuse and burned ships and boats. It felt very strange. Yet I felt the toughness of nature when I saw green shoots of plants coming out of the ground. I felt the same toughness in the disaster victims. Most of the people I visited said, "This disaster by tsunami was unavoidable. We have no choice but to live looking towards the future." These conversations impressed me strongly. There was a man who had escaped and survived leaving his mother-in-law in the house as she was unable to move and a fire was coming towards them. He said to his mother, "Forgive me for leaving you here," and his mother replied, "I understand." He told me his story in a detached tone. I felt the deep grief he must feel knowing that he would have to live with this for the rest of his life. But he said, "I’ve got to keep on living".
In Kesennuma, the lifelines of utilities and services are gradually being put back into place. People have begun returning to their damaged houses, living on the relatively undamaged second floors. I also see many pieces of heavy machinery used for reconstruction. I felt recovery action as I saw the non-damaged hospitals and clinics open and nursing care services resumed. But the government still has its hands full. Some people claimed they had applied for Public Nursing Care Insurance, but without their health insurance cards, they could not receive services.
Our job was to visit individuals, collect their opinions, and send their messages to the applicable agencies. We hope that these activities will contribute to the reconstruction of their lives.
Izumi Tsukamoto : Volunteer Nurse