Update on actions 2011.5.18

[“Tohoku disaster relief”]

Many thanks to everyone for donating and sorting supplies on May 7 & 9. That particular shipment of goods left on May 12 and reached Ishinomaki safely on May 13.

Many thanks also for the generous support of the Cash For Work program (CFW). Launched on April 11, CFW has been evolving steadily. The project started in Ishinomaki but has since been extended to include Kessennuma, both of which were devastated by the tsunami. Working with the Yamagata based NGO, IVY, Second Hand is funding the project in Ishinomaki. We donated a little over 2 million yen at the beginning of May. This is enough to employ 20 people for 1 month. Here’s a brief outline of the program content.

Before starting, workers are provided with work clothes, including protective gear, and professional instruction on safety and work content from a construction company.

Mukai Construction Company providing instruction

CFW employees work in teams of four to make houses habitable. First they remove the floorboards and shovel mud and debris out from beneath the house.

The ground under the floor is then washed and disinfected, the floorboards are replaced and the house cleaned. The teams in Ishinomaki finished about 20 houses in the first 2 weeks. At the beginning of May there were 11 Cash for Work staff in Ishinomaki and they were working on two houses at a time but if this is increased to 20 staff they can work on four houses at once.

It is grueling work but as one worker said, “I had grandparents, too, so I know the elderly can’t possibly do this on their own. The people at every house we clean are always so grateful. I feel we are doing something very worthwhile.”

The CFW project has also hired 6 local people as coordinators, 3 in each town. They interview prospective workers, procure work tools and equipment, find clients and match them with teams of workers. They are able to communicate very well with the clients and the workers and find the work very rewarding because they, too, have experienced this disaster.

Workers are paid in cash at the end of each day. Initially, they received 3,000 yen per day for 4 hours of work (750 yen/hour) but the workday was extended to 5 hours and the hourly wage raised to 800 yen to better meet their needs. Due to potentially toxic substances in the debris, the number of hours in Ishinomaki is currently limited to protect the workers’ health. There has been a very positive response to this program and it is clear that local people desparately need temporary work for cash income. So please keep the support coming while the need lasts . Thank you!!

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