Sendairect ∙ 22 Apr, 11
She told me food was distributed until it ran out like this " people in their 7os please come to the stage for their apple and onigiri, please make an orderly line and wait your turn". Then it would be "people in their 20s" etc, randomly. She said on the first day food had run out before they called her age group : ( I guess numbers far exceeded what was first expected and food was so short for all.
Since that first terrible week -when even the army you have to remember had trouble getting food - things have greatly improved regarding food, heat, water etc. The govt is providing wholesome hot meals to all shelter residents 3 times a day and mountains of boxes of snacks from Canada and other countries I saw are waiting to be distributed and being rationed out daily. It is controlled very tightly. I was not allowed take a pic of the warehouse supplies..
While this style may seem not quite right to us, it is how things are done. Rules are rules and people do not tend to break them. It does have a very good side... keeping order, safety and fairness perhaps, but it is frustrating for many volunteers who just want to help fast and plentifully and ...yes, randomly.
Many of these people are just numb with emotion. They look weary and sad and emotionless.Many have hacking coughs. The woman I quoted above said to me she cannot now distinguish between what is true and what is a dream after seeing her father washed out to sea. A man beside her then joined in, saying with equally numb expression that he watched two of his four kids washed away..most of these people have lost their whole house and everything in it. Jo-ho-san (as I called her) said that they had 5 minutes at most to gather a bag and in that bag she could only fit a small number of possessions. She says she cannot stop thinking about her photo albums washed out in the ocean, photos of their past which she now has no record of.
I was able to give Jo-ho- san some vitamins and batteries and granola bars for her and her family. Also some scented lotion and wetwipes. It is so frustrating not to be able to do more. I really want to go back to this shelter because it seemed to be still so in need compared to the next one we visited. I wanted so badly to give everyone a hotel room for the night just to get a decent night's sleep but it is beyond my means and would not be allowed anyway. Jo-ho- said she had slept sitting since the quake because allocated space in the communal sleeping area was limited, she said she hadn't slept lieing flat since before the quake.
The children at this center were so lively and it was so wonderful to see pets being given a shelter of their own and being played with and petted by people. Volunteers from Turkey had visited the previous week and cooked Turkish food, volunteers from Tokyo had been with circus performers and balloons, everyone is trying to help.