Who Gets the Sandbags?

July 25, 2012

On July 23, 2012, Ann and Dale drove north from Sendai to the Pacific coast town of Minamisanriku in order to try to make contact with some wakame seaweed fishermen. We wanted to see if the seaweed bags Ann has been sewing were OK and where they might be needed.

Minamisanriku context

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Our primary and invaluable contact in still very much decimated Minamisanriku town is a tentmaker from Tokyo (an electrical engineer), Andrew Klaus, who has taken a leave of absence from work and has lived near Minamisanriku for over a year. He found us on the web, subscribed to our email updates, and initiated contact with us because of our seaweed sandbag project. He has compiled a list of more than 1000 people he has met. As we shadowed him in Minamisanriku throughout the day at two temporary housing units, one ministry center, and one devastated fishing area, it was obvious that his local credibility was high. We learned much.

We are planning to distribute 500-1000 sandbags through the Japanese volunteer organization that pointed us to this project. Those sandbags will go to one fishery association in Minamisanriku that will distribute them in a manner their leaders feel is best. But we have learned there are multiple fisheries in the Minamisanriku area. Therefore there is a high possibility some seaweed fishermen might not get any sandbags through the Japanese volunteer organization with which we are working because their connection is with only one fishery (post-tsunami politics?).

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Most importantly, we made contact with a local resident of Babanakayama in northern Minamisanriku who connects that part of town with the outside world, mostly by his blog (in Japanese) that he updates every day. We left a sample sandbag with him that he later showed to a seaweed growing fisherman (see pic). The fisherman's response was encouraging: He would be overjoyed to receive these kinds of sandbags. Others are now saying the same.

Next steps?

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Is this a good opportunity to give a sewing machine to someone who can start their own sandbag sewing business in Minamisanriku (and teach them how to sew)?

Would it be a good idea to build a small building for sewing sandbags (or other fishing purposes) that could double as a gathering place for the fishermen (and for believers to share the love and gospel of Christ)?

Do we limit the number of sandbags we are sewing for the Japanese volunteer organization with which we are linked so that we will have more sandbags to personally distribute ourselves?

japanquake.ca (dale little)