Sachi’s Trip to Japan with a Report from Kumamoto!

Last month we raised over $7000 for Kumamoto Relief with long-time TGS member, Sachi Itabashi.  Sachi is back from Japan and below is a report on her time in Kumamoto City, along with an update on the donations.
Thank you for reading!

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Sachi: 

I went back to Kumamoto, Japan a few days after the market and returned last week.
The final donation amount turned out to be: 803,403 yen.

I tried to meet and talk to my friends and family as much as possible during my stay. By talking to friends and family in Kumamoto, I was able to collect more detailed information to help me understand what they needed and how we could use our donation in the most effective way.

The donations were distributed among 3 different recipients.
As you may remember from our previous blog posts one of the recipients is the Kyushu Rescue Dog Association.

During my research, I met Yuuka Ogata, a city councilor in Kumamoto. Ogata was also a victim of the Kumamoto earthquake, but has been trying to help others in the city at her own expense. With Ogata I visited Wakaba Elementary School, one of the evacuation sites in Kumamoto, where many earthquake victims are currently living, including families with young children. Since temporary housing sites are still under construction, and not guaranteed to every victim that needs to live in this type of housing, many earthquake victims and their families will continue to live in the school gym.

I saw plenty of common necessities at the site, including toys and books for children, which were donated from other cities.

The temporary residents at Wakaba Elementary School also receive bentos (packed food) from a few neighborhood stores, but not enough to distribute to all the people who live there.  I decided to give part of our donation to Ogata who is organizing daily hot cooked meals for the evacuees.

I also visited Mashiki-Machi – the epicenter of the earthquake and one of the most heavily damaged area where many of my friends lived.  I discovered a group started by Kyoko Sonoda that focuses on children’s school meals.  They provide home cooked hot meals to the schools in Mashiki and other affected areas since the facilities where school meals were prepared has been destroyed.  They use fresh and balanced ingredients to support the children’s health.

Ogata and Sonoda are trying to source their ingredients from local market and farmers who had to stop their business because of facility damages.
This way they also help local farmers and their businesses, and now our donations will go towards these farmers as well.

Below are a few photos I took during my visit in Kumamoto.

In general the residents have a very positive attitude.
The common message I received was:

“We are still alive.  As long as we are alive we will figure something out!”

On behalf of Tortoise, I sincerely thank everyone who participated in our Kumamoto Fundraiser.

We hope you will continue to keep Kumamoto and Kyushu in your hearts and minds!

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