The Fruit Tree Project – Rikuzentakata, Day 10

Squeezing in a few extra boxes of bananas!

May 22, 2011– Our first fruit delivery to Rikuzentakata!  Minami and I picked up about 15 boxes of bananas in Honjo before hitting the road towards the east coast of Tohoku.  The drive down was pretty straight forward minus a detour due to a damaged bridge from the earthquake.  On our way down we stopped by to check out another fruit source we heard of in Kitakami (Thanks Rob!).

SUPER OSEN!!!

Super Osen is like a HUGE mega grocery store, but everything is super CHEAP!  There was definitely a reason the whole parking lot was packed at about 9:30 a.m.  Inside the store was pure madness!  I couldn’t believe how many people were crammed in there trying to take advantage of all the bargains!  Since we loaded up first in Honjo, we could only fit about 7 more boxes of bananas in the car, but each box of ~74 bananas cost only 1600yen!  We were shocked!  They are definitely going to see us back there in the future.  We rolled into Rikuzentakata a little after noon.  It’s always a bit nerve-wracking driving into these areas of devastation, and of course we heard about the tsunami’s impact on this area, but nothing could have prepared us for what we saw.  It was shocking to see how high the water level rose, and how far inland the tsunami came.  Even driving several km away from the coast, we still saw whole communities that were flattened.

Our first shelter was a JHS with about 500 residents.  It was one of the bigger shelters in Rikuzentakata, so we unloaded 12 boxes to them.  From there we headed to several smaller shelters in the area to deliver the rest of the load.  We went to 5 shelters total, and they ranged from 30 people in size to 500.  All in all, we were very impressed with all of the shelters we visited.  They were all extremely organized and seemed to be getting quite a lot of donations in the form of supplies and food.  BUT, every shelter did tell us that they hardly receive fresh fruit, so it was nice to be able to provide fresh bananas for them, and they were all thrilled to receive them.  Throughout the 5 shelters we provided enough fruit so that everyone could have at least 2 bananas.  Its amazing how it all worked out, and we were so happy to be able to provide EVERYONE with fresh fruit.  Before heading out of town we checked in with the local VC about volunteer opportunities, and we look forward to organizing/bringing in a group to volunteer in the near future.  This first trip to Rikuzentakata was a huge success, and we look forward to getting back there as soon as possible with MORE FRUIT and a GENKI team of volunteers.  A big thanks to everyone who has supported volunteerAKITA and The Fruit Tree Project!  There is no way any of this could have been possible without your help.  MUCH LOVE.

– Paul



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