One more serving please!

On July 2nd our AAR JAPAN team came upon Minami-Sanrikuchou. Our intentions were simple drive 3 hours northeast from Sendai city, and start up a simple soup kitchen for the local evacuees. On the way over to the Middle School (turned evacuation center), we drove through what remains of Sanrikuchou. The quiet drive through a desolate plain of boats, crushed cars and collapsed buildings was a staunch reminder of the disaster that had occurred almost four months ago. Even after four months, much work still remained.

Minami-Sanrikuchou more than 3 months after the tsunami, much work remains in cleaning up the city.

As I thought about the destroyed homes, of the people who are now living in evacuation centers, I felt I understood a bit of the uncertainty that many could feel towards the future. With this thought lingering in my mind, I helped to prepare the barbeque and miso soup pot. That night’s menu included barbequed fish, rice, some vegetables and miso soup (with freshwater clams).

Preparing daikon "white radish" as part of the seafood dish at the evacuation center.

During the preparation of the meal, some of the team members took a small break to play basketball with the middle school children. Although the school was turned into an evacuation center for 80 people, the sight of children playing gave it a sense of normalcy. It was a fun time playing basketball with the children; we gave into 3 more games after the first one. Hopefully a fun series of basketball games could keep their minds busy and entertained!

Everyone in the basketball court pause to see the ball going into the basket.
Upon returning from the courts exhausted, we finished up the preparations for dinner and began setting food on the plates. Soon enough, small groups of people came and took away trays to bring to their families or friends. It was a calm and quiet event, but was well worth the preparation. As the serving slowed down a bit, some of the children from the school came back for seconds asking “Okawari onegaishimasu. (seconds please)”, to which I replied, “hai mochiron! (Yes, of course!)”

The seafood trays are ready to be distributed, "Dinner is served!".
Nael Kerzabi
Intern at AAR JAPAN's Tokyo office. Born in America, he is currently attending Indiana University. He is a rising Junior and is majoring in political science.