About HARU

We provide assistance toward the reconstruction of Tohoku district, devastated by the quake and the following Tsunami on March 11, 2011.Many volunteer students of Tohoku University have joined us in this noble cause. Also, HARU have received official recognition from Tohoku University so that we are able to promote volunteer activities to meet community needs. In the future, we are switching our work to the long-term reconstruction with broad range of cooperation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Activity Report at an Evacuation Center

Hello, I’m a member of the HARU’s head office and participating in volunteer activities at Yamamoto-chou.

On this occasion I’d like to introduce volunteer activities in an evacuation center which I had been participated in.

We had helped management of the evacuation center (sorting supplies, moving temporary toilets etc…), counseling services to affected people, recreation for children, and helping of an elementary school used as an evacuation center (cleaning, moving of desks, study supports etc…).

First of all, I’d like to introduce how we spent the days in the evacuation center. We started the day with a morning exercise. After the exercise, the staff of the evacuation center explained events and meals of the day. After the explanation, everyone set out for work or cleaning of each house. Some people stayed at the evacuation center for shared works such as collecting water for toilets, and preparing for dinners.

In this evacuation center, a lot of events have been held for affected people. Last week, a small concert by musicians was held for them.  On another occasion, a professional baseball player, a previous pupil of this elementary school visited here.  Or some group of people like ramen shops often came to provide hot meals.  
We heard a lot from affected people, such as, how they ran away from the Tsunami, how they felt when they met a missing friend again, painful memories, joyful scenes, and so on. By hearing directly how they are really thinking which we could not know through mass media, we were given opportunities to think over things deeply. We also heard a voice that people wanted to eat fresh vegetables. After that, we could provide vegetables through vegetables support group.

Children in the evacuation center looked to be full of vigor. But some of them told us that they dreamed the tsunami disaster again and again. They didn’t show their pain, but they were suffered.

I’d like to introduce the speech of a leader of a line troop:
“It is my desire that the children, bearers of the future of this town, love this town. For the time when they remember this earthquake disaster someday, I would like to make not only painful memories but also happy memories for them.”

What we can do for them now is to make them happy. For this purpose, we have done a lot of things: playing, studying, and cleaning the school together. I’d like to introduce some games which we did with children.
In this activity, I used a Nintendo-DS for the first time. I tried “Taiko-no-Tatsujin” (Dram Master), but I got completely beaten by children. I want to practice more, and try again. We played outdoors a lot, too, playing “Kei-Doro” (police and robber) and dodge ball. It was so exhausting that I lost 3 kg. However, we were happy and got powers when they smiled, which made me run away again from [police]. Some affected people also said that they felt relaxed when they saw children smile.

They have had incomparably difficult experiences with ordinary children. They will become good adults who can see, think, and feel things from different aspects from other people. I believe such children will thrive and recover this town by themselves.

Yamamoto-Chou has rarely been focused by the media. But the situation is very hard: A lot of people in the town had died, and many people are still missing. Local strawberry farms were catastrophically damaged by Tsunami. Fields were also damaged with salty water, so it will take a long time and a lot of work before they can use them again.
              One of the affected persons with whom I talked several times in this evacuation center said that “I cannot think if I want to continue living in this town.” and left the town. Because of great deal of damage and lack of labor, despite we struggle to recover from the earthquake, Yamamoto-chou has not yet stand even at the start line to recover.
Under these circumstances, elementary schools in this town started a new school year yesterday. Today is the day of entrance ceremonies.  In this elementary school where the evacuation center has been set up, the new start of children is a hopeful sign for people in the center, even if they cannot see the future.

I hope that a day when the town is filled with children’s smiling faces and revive will come.

Hi, Everyone(children),
Congratulations on your entrance and grade promotion!!

Report of a Natori city map-making

       This is S.H. in External Negotiations Section of HARU. I’d like to report about Natori city map-making underway. This is a part of our support for affected people’s move to provisional housings.

        Provisional housings are completed one by one and people have moved in there since late April. The residents aren't necessarily familiar with the surroundings there, so they need maps. However, general maps contain unnecessary information like the arable land and they lack necessary one like shop hours. So we pick up desiderata and commodities and make maps for residents’ comfortable lives at short notice. The experience when we moved to Sendai from other prefectures is useful here.

        Also, we entrusted facility survey to a cycling club and drawing maps to an art club. That will make easy-to-read maps at short times.

         We have finished the first area and are working on other three areas. Please take a look at the pictures below:


 Special thanks to members of a cycling club and an art club for the cooperation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Report of Vegetable Supply to Evacuation Centers

    Hello, I’m a member of HARU. This is my first posting in our blog.

    Few days after starting HARU, towns in Sendai city had been almost reconstructed as they were before hit by the earthquake.  I felt that I was going to forget the disaster. At that time, I happened to see a tweet on Twitter, from an evacuation center, which made me strongly shocked.  It said:
“There is little food in xxx evacuation center. We share one rice ball within one family for a day. Please help us.”
I thought I had to send foods immediately. But, I noticed that I didn’t have enough money to buy foods for all the members in this evacuation center, and even if I could afford it, I would have no way to convey them. I felt helpless. But I couldn’t just let it go without doing anything, so I sent an e-mail to a vegetable store in Sendai, “Please give me vegetables to send to people in an evacuation center.” The vegetable store readily agreed with me, and gave us vegetables and fruits.
    The manager of the store said “I also wanted to send vegetables to people in an affected area. But the traffic was limited but for emergency vehicles, and I had to tearfully return. As a vegetable store, what I can do is to give vegetables.  So, I’d like to ask you to bring vegetables to disaster area.”I asked a teacher to bring these vegetables to affected area. In a small evacuation centers at coast side, there were rice or preservative foods, but lacked of vegetables and fruits. Hearing that they were very happy with presented vegetables and fruits, I also felt very happy.
     There are not many things I can do by myself, but there are many people who want to do something for others.  I think it was such a good experience that we could share smiles with people in the affected area by reaching hands together. On the other hand, I feel that collecting information of needs in affected areas is very difficult, because situations there change day by day. For example, in some cases, they would not be happy if we brought vegetables where people had a lot of vegetables. In other cases, it might end up with being thrown away if we brought little supply to where many people escaped, for inconvenience of inequality.
    I want to continue working on vegetable supply activity.  I think I should continue searching where and what the demands are, and I will do my best to make affected people vigorous. Actually, I want to start fund-raising for vegetables supply for evacuation centers.

Let’s make Japan vigorous together!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Recovery of Library

Hi, this is HARU Publication Section, we would like to bring in a report about recovery of Tohoku University Library from S.K..


  I would like to report activity about fixing books at Tohoku University Library in Kawauchi campus.

  Numberless books fell off the shelves and books were all over. I have been participating in this activity since 13th, and the picture was like this:
    There were no place to stand in, and I had no idea where to put my hand to. My job was to put these in alphabetical order. Firstly I put the same series books together to get a foothold, and then put them into shelves like this:

    We all individually did this job without uttering a word. Most of books in the library are either big or heavy, so this job is quite exhausting. But thanks to the kind workers, we were given snacks and drinks that really perked us up.
    During the activity we pay attention to the earthquake early warning from radio. Though afterquake hit is much less lately, we still have to be very cautious not to be between shelves at the moment big afterquake hits.
    Let's review the first picture. It was that all messy and hard to imagine the original view, but at the end of the next day, it turned out to be:

    When I first came here, I even felt dizzy. But this activity is worthwhile that you can actually see it gets better and better. At the end of the Friday, it came this far:

    I can feel the end of this work. Right now I am working on the 3rd floor of building 2, but I have heard that there is 4th floor to do. So I would like to work hard to restart the library as soon as possible.

April 16th, 2011


Thank you very much!
Let's do this work together and make the library back to normal!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Report of supplies delivery to Oshika Peninsula

        The other day, Professor Nizuma of Graduate school of environmental study delivered supplies that were donated by you to Oshika Peninsula.
This is the report of supplies delivery written by Professor Nizuma.

Dear All,
        Yesterday, I went to Oshika Peninsula to deliver supplies and gather information with Tominaga-san, the member of my laboratory. I would like to report about it.
        We delivered supplies which were presorted by the team of Saishu-san and four boxes of fruits and vegetables that were provided by Sendai-Asaichi Shopping District Promotive Association with the help of Okuyama-san to Oshika Peninsula.
        Receivers were not major evacuation centers, but minor evacuation centers and private houses as small shelters, for the following reasons: Firstly we cannot deliver enough supplies to evacuation centers of hundreds of people; Secondly, people who stays at shelter in private houses does not get enough support; Finally, I wanted to touch evacuees’ hearts by delivering supplies directly, hearing from them, and looking them in their eyes.
        We didn’t have any specific receivers, but we went southward from Onagawa and could deliver supplies to six places directly.
        They casted cautious eyes on us at first, but received our supplies with pleasure to hear that we were from Tohoku University and visited there to deliver fruits.
        Most of the places had no power supplies, plumbing, nor gas supplies just like Sendai right after the earthquake. Food supplies they could get were still rice-balls and emergency foods. They wanted fruits and fibrous foods as we experienced in Sendai, so they received thankfully. It’s been day-long work to go shopping, because big towns in Sanriku: Onagawa, Ishinomaki, Shidugawa, and Kesennuma, where people buy groceries were all destroyed by tsunami.
        Also, I strangely understood that people need to ask moms, not dads, about daily commodity as we do.
        In addition, they received supplies like under wares and clothes with pleasure, which were thought to be supplied already. I found that even if they receive enough supplies in the face of statistics, individuals have overage or shortage and clothes supplies lack of size variety.
        I learned it difficult to deliver a large amount of supplies which were donated from all over the country to individuals.
        When I saw the compassionate supplies in the boxes, I had mixed feelings about the fact that we couldn’t deliver donors’ feelings to sufferers directly. However, I felt happy to deliver supplies directly and donors’ feelings to them in a different way. I appreciate all the people who were involved in this project and giving me such a great chance.
        I got valuable information that Kinkazan was connected to Oshika Peninsula by land just before the tsunami and the elevation of sea didn’t move for a while.
        I learned the importance of knowing that the circumstances are changing day by day and place by place, and we need to seek the direction of our support.
Nizuma Hiroaki

        This is E, a member of HARU. Yesterday, I heard Professor Nizuma about supplies delivery. He told me very interesting story about supplies delivery to affected areas which I’d like to introduce about. I hope you would think about supplies delivery.
        At first, he said needed supplies are different by places even in one town and you can’t know what people really need without visiting there. Also, it’s not always true that people need the same thing as before. It’s very hard to recognize their need at different times from a distance. However, it doesn’t mean that we only have to deliver supplies which seem to be needed. We have to give sufferers opportunities to choose what they need, not just giving them the same things in the same quantities. For example, he suggested setting up shopping buses or delivery services to give them chances to choose what they need.
        It’s important to revive power for provincial reconstruction and their power won’t revive by just sending supplies. We need to set up support which helps people do something by themselves.
        He also said that most of the people in this area don’t take this disaster despairingly or darkly. He said they seemed to remind themselves that they have to go through their lives as survivors. He felt boundless power of people who have lived with natural threats, because there are many fishers in Oshika Peninsula who are brush with death and they experienced tsunami damage many times.
        Finally, he said “People’s smiles there were so nice and irresistible, and I’m really happy to see their smiles.” I was deeply impressed to see such nice smiles of sufferers in the picture.

        I’ll write my thought after hearing the story, below. This is my personal feeling, so please note that it has optimistic side.
        It’s been a month after the earthquake, and I’ve been involved in volunteer activities for three weeks. I’ve been to senior care home, elementary schools for evacuation centers, and head office of HARU. I became less sure of myself about what I was doing and wondered what I was working hard for. However, smiles of the elderly, evacuees, people in city halls, volunteer staffs, and children I saw in the field were really nice. Their smiles kept me going even in the tough situations physically and mentally. And I found again that I was working hard to see their smiles, owing to Professor Nizuma.
        There are various activities in reconstruction support. I’m happy to work in the front lines. At the same time, I guess you may wonder if your background activities help someone. But I think your work lead someone to smile somewhere no matter how small work it is. Many people have lent their hands in the back in this supplies support, too. People who called for providing supplies, who provided supplies, who boxed up the supplies, who arranged transportation of supplies, who loaded supplies to cars, who delivered the supplies to the field, and many others have lent their hands. All of their efforts made the nice smile, I think.
        Please keep in mind that your help leads to someone’s smile certainly no matter how small it is. And please remember that the smile is inspiring people around them.
        Let’s do our best!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sendai Ichigo (Sendai Strawberry)

    Good evening, everyone. I’m a member of the Volunteer team.
    How did you get your food soon after the Great East Japan Earthquake, everyone? I queued for a vegetable store a few days after the earthquake. At that time, I saw that very delicious-looking strawberries made in Miyagi were sold. I bought a package because they were so bright red and delicious-looking, and I thought they would give me power. I decided my rule to eat those strawberries up to three a day. I ate them bit by bit preciously. They were very delicious. Fruits give us vigor, don’t they? I enjoyed them for a few days.

    Nowadays, HARU went to Yamamotochou, where is famous for strawberry. Have you ever heard of “Sendai Ichigo?” However, sadly, most of strawberry farms were located at the coast, where they were almost completely broke down. The above photo shows there were a lot of strawberry plastic greenhouses. The Tsunami was so strong that the windbreak forests and houses were destroyed.

    I heard from a town official, that the strawberries which were sold soon after the great earthquake were shipped lastly from Yamamotochou. The strawberry which I ate might have grown up in Yamamotochou. The Sendai ichigo might no longer be made, because the greenhouses were like above photo.

    I hope Yamamotochou will be able to grow the delicious strawberries again. I’m going to do what I can do myself, even if they were tiny. I’ll make one more effort tomorrow.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Report at a Special Elderly Nursing Home for Aged

Hello, I’m a member of the head office. I have been to a special nursing home for aged, “ Sendan-no-Sato” as a volunteer team since this Tuesday for four days.

This time we went there in a smaller group including some from the head office, since few students applied for this activity.

You may think there are no relation between this volunteer activity and the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, a lot of elderly people were shocked by this disaster. Not only people living in coast side damaged by the tsunami, but also people living in urban side were shocked. We heard that it is good stimulation for them to communicate, for example talking or playing games, with young people like us. So we decided to do this activity.

As we talk with elderly users there, I felt they became to speak more from themselves. It was such a good change that made me feel it was an amazing experience.

I’d like to bring in some of our activities:

Chatting with the users.
We spent most of the time talking with the users. They told us many stories, and some of them were quite educational. We had such a good time laughing and singing with them. They even surprised us with asking us “Please sing some song.” We sand “Mito-Koumon” all together when I sang “Mito-Koumonn” and “I am a Thousand Winds.” We couldn’t finish singing “I am a Thousand Winds” because we couldn’t remember the words.

Helping staffs there
We helped out washing the dishes, tray service, cleaning, and so on. We made an effort as much as we could, by using our experiences.

We went for a walk with the users. One of the users I walked together was good at drawing pictures. I looked at his sketchbook, and it was so wonderful. I decided to bring a sketchbook from next trip.

Helping Recreation
We helped some playing such as ball-basket and ring toss. When I was holding a basket and receiving balls, some users hit me with balls toward me.

Helping Cafeteria
We helped out a cafeteria in the nursing home. It was very interesting to meet with members of other part. They teased us a lot.

We had such a good experience that we wouldn’t able to have in universities through this visit. I sincerely felt it was very important for volunteer activity to have social relationship. There are something we can do each other, both provider and receiver. We believe we did give them smiles and also, users and staffs told us so many things important as a human.

There are a lot of elderly households in Tohoku district. Some of them can’t go to facilities like this, isolated from society even in evacuation center. If you know anybody under such circumstance near you, please go and see them and their condition. Please communicate with them even a little, and be happy each other.

You can learn a lot through volunteer activities. We realized this from this visit. When you do volunteer activities, please bring something back.

I would like to close by saying “Thank you” to the staffs of “Sendan-no-Sato”, and the users there. We are looking forward to seeing you again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Activity Report from Yamamotocho

    I would like to bring in volunteer activity and actual condition in Yamamotocho.
    We are doing our activity at an evacuation center. The work contents are quite varied.
Everybody are doing significant work by finding work themselves, by asking needs of the people there.

    The actual condition of this place is still far from reconstruction. We will keep working in order to support people there, as much as possible.

    Thank you very much for all the participants, and for all that are going to participate in this activity.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sorting Supplies

    This is a report about supply sorting on March 31st and April 1st.

    This time we sorted supplies everybody had offered.
    Thank you very much for all the participants, and for all that are going to participate.

More photos are displayed in the Album.