With this update, we would like to take the opportunity to bring our readers and followers up to date with some of info and photos of our activities within Fukushima over the last few months. Aside from much ‘behind the scenes’ work – which is as necessary as it is unglamorous – we have also had the opportunity to ‘get our hands dirty,’ as it were, with some activities in and around Haragama.
Back in June, members and friends of hearts for haragama went to plant sunflowers in a field next to the Kindergarten. After witnessing the destruction of all living things by the wave that swept away hundreds of kilometres of coastline, is is inspiring to witness the birth of new life and the sheer resilience of nature in the face of adversity. With the fallout of the nuclear accident mere kilometres down the coast from Soma, there are uncertain times still ahead, but the sunflowers themselves are also said to help suck any residual radiation from the ground. Seeing the sunflowers bloom has both very tangible and very symbolic meaning for us and the people of Fukushima.
We have also been lucky enough to participate in a few other festivals at the Kindergarten. It is always reassuring to see kids so happy to be able to meet and play with people from other countries. At the same time, we are always grateful to be able to contribute back to the communities that have welcomed us over the past few years.
During our many trips to the coast to assist in the clean up efforts, we discovered many personal artefacts that had been lost or abandoned during the chaos of the tsunami. Rather than simply leaving them to be bulldozed along with all the other wreckage, we took it upon ourselves to sort whatever we could into bins so that they may be collected by the proper authorities during the course of their regular inspections. In particular, we tried to save photographs and albums, birth, death and marriage certificates, diaries and other unique personal effects. After some initial uncertainty as to whether or not we, as unregistered volunteers, had the ethical right to touch other people’s property, we decided we would go ahead with it. Regrettably, there was never any shortage of things to find, but we did what we could while we were there. Whether or not these items were able to be reunited with their owners, according to the rescue teams in Soma, this small deed was met with some gratitude.
Lastly, as some of you may recall, it was Tsukasa’s deeply personal story about his lost honeymoon that first inspired us to work together for Hargama Kindergarten. It is with great joy that we can bring you these images of his wedding to his beautiful wife Liliana. Many members of hearts for haragama were present at the ceremony, as well as many of their adorable students. After their countless selfless acts over the last six months, it is truly heartwarming that they could finally celebrate the wedding that they so deeply deserved, and to do so in the company of those whose lives they helped to rebuild ensures it was even more special.
While the tsunami caused their plans to take a dramatic and unforseen turn, it is a fitting epilogue to our story that they were finally able to enjoy their special day. The wedding is yet more proof of the strength of spirit of the people of Tohoku, and how our many and seemingly disparate lives have been forever bonded together through determination, compassion and a deep respect for our neighbours. We are achingly close to being able to release all the funds we raised via PayPal and presenting them to Tuskasa and his family at Haragama Kindergarten. In the meantime, we are determined to bring hearts for haragama to a close and are in the process of sending out thank you notes to our donors. Along with a message from us, we’ll also be sending a special gift from the students of Haragama to those who supported us (and indeed, them) along the way.