Supporting goods

Disaster-vulnerable groups and the reality they faced 1

Disaster-vulnerable groups refer to people who need special help in a disaster. These people have difficulty evacuating on their own and need support. Of course, this means they also need special consideration after evacuating. Although they might have high priority on temporary housing lists, there isn’t even a place for them in shelters. For example, there is no consideration for those handicapped people who may have difficulties using general toilets, and they are not given first priority for spaces that accommodate their special needs. So disabled victims couldn’t stay, but had to find places other than shelters or live in cars. Then, if they weren’t living in shelters, they might not receive supplies and such. It became a never-ending cycle, and that was really exhausting at the time.

About the foundation’s other facilities

It wasn’t actually designated, but we had one evacuation center especially for disabled people. Social workers, disabled people, and their families who had lost their homes lived together in the mornings and evenings, and during the day they continued their activities as usual. The family members also went to their jobs and such from there.

Non-disabled people from the region also evacuated to our other facilities, and some of them stayed until August at the latest. Those facilities also asked Kesennuma City to support them as evacuation centers for the disabled, and got special public aid.

Those facilities shared their supplies with Nozomi, so we distributed them to our trainees living in shelters.


Relief supplies

Even though help wasn’t coming and everyone felt like giving up, they didn’t forget to speak up.

Did supplies arrive after the temporary group home was built?

Kayoko: For start-up supplies, we had declared these 7-piece sets our trainees would need when they entered the group home, so we got those.

But there was a general temporary housing complex behind our temporary group home, and they got daily supplies for each household there, but none came to our group home. Even though daily supplies had arrived for everyone in the region, our group home was ignored in spite of this perfectly visible building.

Ogawa: Like potatoes and mandarin oranges. Only the people in the house behind us got those.

Kayoko: Not that we really wanted those things.



Kayoko: You can see the entrance of that temporary housing complex right outside our group home window, so our trainees could see supplies being brought in. So I think maybe they felt a bit bad.


Why were those group home residents left out from the daily supply distribution?

Kayoko: We weren’t on the local registry somehow. When I noticed that, I tried to identify the problem by asking questions like, “What number of what district are we?” If you’re not on the registry, you don’t get local information, and it’s difficult to live in the region if you haven’t built a community with local people in case something happens, so I had us put in the registry. As we started getting involved like that, the region started cooperating with us.

Ogawa: Anyway, no supplies came for around the first 2 months after we moved into the temporary group home.


What supplies came?

Ogawa: Vegetables and stuff.

Kayoko: They were living in a different place than before, so they didn’t know who the ward mayor was, and often felt uneasy about communicating with neighbors and such. I heard them say, “How are we different from our neighbors?” It seems they were treated differently from the average temporary housing complex.

Hand massage

Through her father’s contact, Ai started to participate in different events at the community space of the housing complex.


Was there anything that was particularly helpful or good in the life at the temporally housing?

Kumai: They received emergency relief supplies. The housing complex had events such as mochi rice cake making. Her father also worked for those events at the venue near the housing.


What event did you like the most?

Ai: Things like hand massage.

Kumai: A person came to give hand massage at events.


How did you feel when you were given hand massage?

Ai: I felt very good and it had a nice aroma.

Kumai: I believe they had a lot of supports at the temporally restoration housing for the disabled as there were many persons with disabilities and their families. Your father was working hard for different events there, right?

Ai: Yes.

Emergency supplies

What did you do about food? I suppose you ran out of cookies soon.

You are right. Food ran out soon. The first person who came with supplies was from Kobe. He saw the situation in Kesennuma in news reports and immediately drove all the way with emergency supplies. He saw Himawari’s signboard and found many people here. He said “You must need some more food, don’t you?” and left a box full of food such as instant noodles. His Kansai dialect sounded very warm. He said there was food at evacuation centers, and he knew there were places near evacuation centers where people were taking refuge without being recognized as official evacuation centers. These places were where people suffered the most in the case of Great Earthquake of Hanshin-Awaji, he recalled. That’s why he was specifically looking for places in that category to deliver supplies. We were so grateful to that person. As people nearby our workshop did not have any emergency supplies, many of them came to Himawari hoping that we had something here. We wanted to give something warm to these people, so we did our best by bringing food from our houses, taking water from the river next to our workshop, boiling the water and made warm things for them. Luckily we had propane gas cylinders here. There were iron plates for baking cookies, so we used them to cook food. We did everything possible to serve the people, so that the trainees who came here would say they would come again.