*UPDATE* July 27, 2011

The Fruit Tree Project reaches the $20,000 mark!  A big thanks to all of our supporters and donors.  To date, we have raised ¥1,610,560 ($20,533) and delivered ~37,002 items of fruit!!! while the BIG CLEAN initiative has logged ~818 hours of volunteering!

As always you can take a closer look at our numbers right here.

The-Fruit-Tree-Project-data

There are still thousands of people living in shelters across Tohoku, and many are still eating the same food provided by the government on a daily basis.  The need for fresh fruit is still very apparent in many of these cities and towns, therefore we plan to continue The Fruit Tree Project for as long as we can.

Besides our on going activities, we are now in full swing with the “Smiles & Dreams” project lead by LivingDreams/SmileKidsJapan.  We are currently Home Communication Managers (HCMs) for 2 orphanages in the Sendai area, which means we will be in close contact with them to help provide any requests or needs they may have now or in the future.  volunteerAKITA is excited to be involved in this project and a BIG THANKS to LivingDreams and SmileKidsJapan for giving us this opportunity and for doing such amazing things for orphans in Japan. Much Love.

Paul

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The Fruit Tree Project – Ishinomaki, Day 18

 

Looking down along the coast

July 15, 2011 – Today I was off work, so I headed down to Ishinomaki to deliver some fruit.  It was just a quick little day trip, but I’m so glad I made it down.  Right now the weather in Japan is insanely hot and humid.  It was really heartbreaking to see everyone still living in the shelters under these conditions.  All of the shelters had many fans running, but it was still just pushing around the hot/humid air.   Today I visited 5 shelters.  4 of them we have delivered to before, but the 5th shelter was new.  Everyone knew we were coming and many remembered my name and our organization “volunteerAKITA”, so that was nice.  The first 4 deliveries were quick and easy.  As always, they were extremely grateful, and said they really appreciate fruit because they only get it on occasion.

Mr.Moriya (the nicest guy in the world)

I  headed back to Moriya fruits to pick up more fruit for the last shelter located west of Ishinomaki.  It’s actually right along the road I take to get back to Akita so it was really convenient.  Since the shelter is located outside of central Ishinomaki, they haven’t been getting as much relief  as other shelters.  Kat Sheu, an ALT in Ishinomaki lives near the shelter and tipped us off on their situation and asked us to get them some fruit.  The folks there were such AMAZING people.  They were so kind and grateful for the fruit.  The shelter houses about 46 people, so I bought enough for each to have an apple and an orange.  I also got to chat with them for awhile, and talk to them about some other needs they have.  Before I left, they brought me 4 bags of food! I obviously could not take it from them, but they forced it on me!  In the bags were tons of bread loafs and onigiris.  This was the stuff they ate every day for their meals, and you could tell that people were sick of eating it.  I thanked them for the food and told them I would be in touch.  Our plan is to get Kat some money so she can run more fruit to them next week.

The situation right now in Ishinomaki hasn’t changed much.  No one has even heard of a potential move in date to the temporary housing, and people have said that the city has fallen behind in building the temporary housing.  Right now I’m just hoping for the best for these folks stuck in the shelters, and hope we can continue to help as many people as possible, especially through this intense summer weather.

Paul

Apples packed in cooler boxes!!! Niiiiiiiiiice.


The Fruit Tree Project – Ishinomaki, Day 16/17

July 7, 2011 and July 11, 2011 – First off a BIG OTSUKARE to Jane Suh, our awesome new friend down in Ishinomaki.  Jane is also teaching English through the JET program, and we got connected to her through Andy Anderson.  Jane has been a huge help to us along with another ALT, Kat, and they have both been super active with the relief efforts going on right now! (They are amazing!) Earlier in the week I transfered some money to Jane so she could get some smaller deliveries out during the week.  First she took 144 peaches to 2 shelters in the Ishinomaki area.  Peaches are GREAT, and everyone is always excited to receive them!

Next, Jane delivered 5 cases of bananas (~370 bananas) to her Junior High School.  Since the tsunami, school lunches haven’t been the same, especially in the Ishinomaki area, so it was nice that she was able to bring fruit in for all the students, and we were definitely excited to hear about it.  This delivery is only the second time our fruit has made it into the schools.  Some schools don’t allow it due to the strict regulations on student lunches, so we were glad to hear that Jane could provide fruit for them!

Thanks again Jane! You ROCK!

Paul


the BIG CLEAN – Ishinomaki Field Report

Group shot!

July 4, 2011-This weekend we were doing two projects, The Fruit Tree Project on Saturday and the Big Clean on Sunday. In the morning, after breakfast and saying  goodbye to our wonderful hosts, we arrived at the volunteer center at Senshu University. Driving in, tents were scattered over the campus grounds and we had no doubts as to whether or not we were in the right place. We changed, gathered our shovels and headed to the working site with another team of 30 or so Japanese volunteers. The site was in a pretty clean and well off neighborhood, so I was definitely curious as to what we would be cleaning.

Our job was to lift the cement lids of “gaijin traps” and shovel out the sediment inside. The sediment was black as ink, smelly and glistening with gasoline – gloves, goggles and face masks were a must. We got to work, two people to a team, and started shoveling it in to bags. We got pretty close to finishing around 2pm when our friends from NBC showed up.  The day before, the crew had been following us and taking footage during our fruit deliveries. They told us to ignore them like flies on the wall, but it’s really hard not to laugh when there is a giant camera in your face. We finished our cleaning, chatted with the camera crew and then said our goodbyes to the Japanese team.

At first, the impact of our cleaning wasn’t outwardly apparent, we were not cleaning rubble from the streets or repairing shrines. But as the families came out of their houses to thank us, we could really see the appreciation for the work that we had done.  It was a great day and I think everyone felt that what they accomplished that day was worthwhile.

– Margaret


The Fruit Tree Project – Ishinomaki, Day 15

 

FRUIT!!!

July 2, 2011– Back again, but this time with bigger plans!  Our trip last weekend allowed us to check out the area and get more contacts to different shelters.  So this week we set out to provide fruit to 21 different shelters in the Ishinomaki area.  Minami and I headed down Friday night and just crashed in the back of the car.  The rest of the crew came down early Saturday and met us at the Love Koganehama event.  One big thing that came through for us this trip were our FREE IC passes!  Now, volunteer groups working in Tohoku can get free passes, but the process can be a bit tedious (lots of faxing/paperwork).  Hopefully it becomes easier and easier over time.

Handing out fruit and veggies!

The Love Koganehama event was really great.  So many different organizations and people coming together to help this community get back on their feet.  The Fruit Tree Project provided some fresh oranges and bananas, which was put together with some veggies and other fruit.  The event went really well, and it was great that we got in touch with the organizers, because they are doing amazing things right now, and are definitely people we would love to work with in the future.  One of the highlights of the event was an owner of a Mos Burger in Tokyo came up and cooked burgers for everyone!

Each person got a bag full of veggies and fruit

We wrapped up at Koganehama in the early afternoon, and quickly headed to Moriya Fruits (our fruit source) to start delivering to the shelters in the area.  The delivery process was intense!  We had a solid crew of 25 strong, with 10 vehicles! We broke into teams, loaded up the fruit, and started making the rounds.  With so many people helping, the delivery process was quick and easy! A big thanks to the Ishinomaki ALTs for their help and support, and another big thanks to the Moriya family for giving us such an amazing deal on fruit! We definitely look forward to giving them our business in the future.  We want to also thank Hinako and the NHK news team that followed us on Saturday, as well as the guys from NBC who stuck with us all weekend (Arata, Ian, Ed, and Dave).  It was so nice to see them again (we met them during Golden Week), and they are a great group of guys.  It was nice talking to them and hearing about their lives (they all live in cool places, haha), and we appreciate their help in raising awareness of some of the issues Tohoku faces right now.

RYE B spreadin' the LOVE!

This past weekend in Ishinomaki was EPIC, we delivered lots of fruit and also made some great contacts! We definitely plan to get back there soon, and look forward to getting more involved in the relief efforts going on down there right now.

Paul


*UPDATE* July 4, 2011

Group shot!

Just got back from a BIG weekend down in Ishinomaki, Miyagi this past weekend!  We delivered ~4,474 items of fruit to 21 shelters and a small community of about 200 people.  A BIG THANKS to our 25 awesome volunteers (10 vehicles) who helped us deliver on Saturday!  Some shelters are receiving fruit once in awhile, but definitely aren’t getting it regularly.  We have now established a great fruit source in Ishinomaki, so we look forward to getting back down there and reaching out to more shelters in the area.  To date, The Fruit Tree Project has raised 1,538,752 yen ($19,048) and delivered ~35,518 items of fruit!  A BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR ALL THE SUPPORT!!!

As always, you can take a closer look at our numbers right here.

The-Fruit-Tree-Project-data

And a very special shout out to everyone who helped out this past weekend! Ya’ll ROCK!

Jane, Kat, Henry, Karissa, Aaron, Mike, Jake, Jess, Minami, Anne, Masato, Alicia, Jon, Steph, Margs, Liyen, Maka, Ashley, Rye, Wil, Dave, Zikon, Melissa, and Mel!!!!