The Respectful Road to Recovery

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CARE distributes hot meals twice a day in three evacuation centers in Yamada, northern Japan. Photo CARE Japan

By Futaba Kaiharazuka, (Assistant Program Director, Emergency Response, CARE Japan)

In one of the evacuation centers where CARE Japan is providing hot meals, there is a man with perfectly groomed hair who wears a certain jacket. The man is in his late 60s or early 70s and always joins in the aid work at the center, volunteering to help with the heavy lifting. He is one of those people who is always courteous and never stops smiling.

One member of the CARE team had the chance to chat with him a few days ago during the food distribution. His house, like many of the disaster victims, and all his household possessions were washed away. When the tsunami struck he was wearing the same jacket he now wears all the time. He explained that he wears the jacket not because he cannot change his clothes; the evacuation center has received many relief items including clothing and underwear, rather, he wears it because out of all his personal possessions, his jacket is the only item that survived the tsunami. “Everything I had was washed away, but I am a fighter’, he said with his usual smile whilst chatting to the kitchen staff. There is a mountain of relief goods such as clothes and new items that have been delivered, but despite this, he feels wearing his own jacket gives him the strength and courage to go on.

In the midst of such great post-disaster disorder, CARE sees countless examples of people helping each other through the chaos, despite the severity of their own circumstances. The old man”s story shows the strength and courage of these people who are determined to pick themselves up again.