Volunteer trip to Ootsuchi town: Report by Singapore Students’ Association of Japan (SSAJ)

  On the weekend of the 2nd of June, the Singapore Students' Association of Japan (SSAJ) organised a trip to Ootsuchi Town of Iwate Prefecture. The aim of the trip was to participate in the Kirikiri Beach Cleaning project organised by the Ootsuchi Town Volunteer Center. There were 44 participants in total from various countries including Singapore, Japan, China and Malaysia.

Kirikiri Beach of Ootsuchi Town was devastated by the tsunami of March 11th, 2011. It was originally a beautiful beach, both a tourist destination and a place for the locals to spend the day. However, the beach now has a lot of dangerous debris buried under the sand, and is no longer safe for recreation. The clearing of the beach is necessary for the revival of the local tourism industry, and we are honoured that the Ootsuchi Town Volunteer Center allowed us to help out in this project.

Over two days of shoveling sand and removing out the debris within, we cleared countless shards of glass, rusted nails and pieces of metal. Larger junk removed from the sand includes destroyed clocks, furniture, and large stones that once decorated gardens in the area. Through this experience, we were able to confirm for ourselves the scope of the disaster, as well as how much work remains to be done. We also had the opportunity to interact with the locals of Ootsuchi and the staff of the Volunteer Center, who were very candid about their experiences and the present needs of Ootsuchi Town.

We now know well the importance of repeat volunteerism, and are actively considering our next step in support of the disaster area. We remain grateful to the locals of Ootsuchi and the staff of the Volunteer Center, who have taught us immensely important lessons about how to stay strong despite adversity.