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Waseda University Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center deployed an advance team of students to the disaster area Ishinomaki City

On April 11th and 12th, the Waseda University Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC) deployed an advance team of disaster volunteers to Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. Ishinomaki is the most devastated disaster area, with a total of 5,500 dead and missing persons. The city was also faster than any other region to begin accepting disaster volunteer from outside Miyagi Prefecture. The center plans to deploy a total of 3 student volunteer teams to Ishinomaki from April 21st to 28th. After this period, the center plans to deploy volunteers to the region as necessary.

Students followed an exhausting schedule, boarding a bus to leave the university late at night on April 11th (Monday). They performed volunteer work during the day on the 12th (Tuesday) and returned to Tokyo in time to catch the last train on that day. The team consisted of 28 members, including 6 faculty/staff members who acted as supervisors. The 22 student volunteers (16 male, 6 female) all had experience of volunteering for WAVOC.

After completing procedures at the local Ishinomaki City Disaster Volunteer Center, the team headed to the Ishinomaki Girls Commercial High School where they were schedule to work. On their way to the school, student volunteers witnessed the unimaginable scenery along the sides of the road. Cars and boats were folded into bizarre shapes and buildings were completely flattened. The sight left everyone at a loss for words.

The team's work at the school consisted of carrying rubble and damaged facilities out of the school, as well as scooping up and removing mud. It was heavy physical labor, and student volunteers felt soreness in their arms as they sweated and worked together with other groups. Water had not yet been restored to the community, so volunteers had to overcome the inconvenience of not being able to use the restroom. Even so, all of the student volunteers worked their hardest, including female students.

The volunteer team was deployed even as aftershocks continued to rock East Japan. However, the activities were a successful part of Waseda University's volunteer activities for recovering from the recent disaster. Based on the success of this advance team, our university shall send more students volunteers to disaster areas as part of Waseda University's disaster volunteer efforts. Interested person should apply after viewing the WAVOC website.

On May 6th (Friday), WAVOC will hold a volunteer fair featuring a panel discussion related to the East Japan Earthquake. Please refer to the WAVOC homepage for details. We look forward to seeing you at the fair.

(WAVOC Assistant Professor Motoki Kato)