Mar 23, 2013

Sendai Support Meeting @ Otsuchi, Iwate

The 19th session of the Sendai Diocese Support Meeting was held on 22 March in Otsuchi town, Iwate prefecture. Otsuchi is one of these coastal towns which were badly hit by March 11 tsunami.  Nagasaki Ecclesiastical Province had opened their volunteer base in December, 2011.  Since then, Fr. Furuki, SDB, who had been assigned by Nagasaki archdiocese as its director, has been working hard to accommodate volunteers not only from Kyushu area but from all over Japan.

Since the Tsunami disaster, it was my second visit to Otsuchi town. I attended the opening ceremony of the base in December, 2011, as I have posted before.  After two solid years since the disaster, town was still yet to be rebuild.  As you can see from the photo above, reconstruction plan of the local government has not been finalised and majority of people in the town are staying in temporary shelters.  Most of the disaster hit towns are yet to finalise their own reconstruction plans or still unable to execute them since "consensus building" is the must in community lives in Japan.

The Sendai Diocese Support Meeting is a monthly gathering of heads of several rescue and rehabilitation operations of Catholic Church within Sendai diocese. Three Bishops representing three provinces, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagasaki, myself as representative of the Bishops' Conference, Bishop Hiraga of Sendai, other officials of Sendai diocese and members of Caritas Japan.  You may download the 2013 report of activities of Caritas Japan's rescue operation from this link.

Prior to the meeting in Otsuchi, Fr. Furuki, the director, took us, around 20 of us to attend the meeting, to a hill behind the volunteer base.  Photo above is how you can see the town of Otsuchi from the hill top.  As we returned to the base, a chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Otsuchi town, Mr. Kikuchi was waiting us to share his vision for future of the town with us.  I did not realise until his sharing, the road in front of the base used be a central shopping district of the town with many shops.  Now what we can see is only a couple of vending machines of soft drinks.  Needless to say but it will take time for people to re-gain "normal lives".

At least the exterior of the base building has been completely changed.  Now it has shinning and beautiful wall paintings of a tree and rainbow which had been done by a group of artists from Taiwan in August, 2012 as a symbol of friendship between two countries. 

As we have just celebrated the third anniversary of the disaster in Tohoku Japan, we would like to thank you again for your prayers and contributions.  Kindly remember victims in your prayer.


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