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


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