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Country of Kind Hearts part 2

Here is the second round of updates from Yoko.  If you did not see our first post please click here.

“People who lost all their belongings in the earthquakes and the Tsunami are now living in shelters. Their initial emotional reaction was the feeling of relief. Relieved that they are alive, and have food and a place to stay, for now. Do you think they are living happily ever after? NO WAY. Even the most self-disciplined Japanese people find it difficult to live the life sharing the sleeping space of 3ft by 6ft with two others. They would get annoyed by little things. All day long, they have nothing to do, but feeling devastated. They would cry and tuck their emotions away deep inside of themselves.

Under such condition, one of the shelters started a new effort, which is being learned by others. It is titled as “One Person One Task”. It is simple. Everyone has some responsibility in maintaining their life at the shelter as a group.
Their day starts with a morning assembly. They gather in the morning, and a leader says some direction or caution for the day, or pep talk, and they greet one another. People living in the shelter come from various backgrounds. There is a man who ran a pub that served food prepared impromptu. His task is a cook. Shelters receive emergency food supply of rice balls. But a day old rice ball is not like a day old bread. It becomes hardened and difficult to eat, especially for elders. The pub owner comes up with an idea. He coats a day old rice balls with soybean base paste, and grill them. It requires frequent flip over, but he is good at it. Rice balls become crunchy outside with salty flavor, and soft hot inside. Now, everyone wants to eat them.

A barber offers haircuts. A lot of people still don’t have facilities to shampoo. Having a hair cut gives them refreshing feelings. It also lightens others hearts. People would comment “Oh, you got a haircut. Cool”. Who can say this after the earthquake?
What can a man, who only knows how to go out to the ocean to fish, do? Well, he is a safety coordinator. He keeps debris around the shelter away from the people.  He checks propane tanks and gasoline containers. His knowledge in handling those inflammable for operating fishing boats is exactly the skills needed here. He keeps eye on personal items, a little left for some people,while people are busy doing their work. At the end of the day, he makes sure everything is secured and all fires are put out.

Not only are they trying to survive one day to another but they are also setting up some goals for more ways to make their lives more livable. They worked out an agreement with the surviving houses around the shelter, to let them use Japanese bath. In return, they offer gasoline allocated for the use at the shelter, which would never be enough to make their own bath for everyone anyway. “Bartering” What a smart way to help each other!  They work with local businesses. They set up booths and help to sell items in a morning market style. They are trying every new way, not only to live, but to live with the purpose. To live with pride. And these are the people who lost everything. Some even lost their loved ones. People at the shelter say “no one person is different. We all are on the same boat. We will do our best together.'”

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