Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the Provision of 500 Meals of Bangladeshi Curry (Jotaro Kato)

Jotaro Kato (Representative Director, A. P. F. S.)

At A. P. F. S., we are engaged in our activities under the ideology of crossing borders and living together. This activity was exactly what A. P. F. S. is trying to achieve.

This project became reality from the strong desire of Mr. Hassan (Bangladeshi origin), one of our directors that he wanted to help regardless of country of origin. There was this tremendous pressure from him (J), so the project to distribute 500 meals of Bangladeshi curry came to form with a surprising speed. According to the schedule, we had the planning and started with coordinating on March 24th (Thu), the final decision and preparations were made on March 25th (Fri), we left on March 26th (Sat) and the distribution itself took place on March 27th (Sun). I have to think again that we could realize this project in such a short period of time only because we are an NGO/NPO.

First of all Mr. Hassan and Mrs. Hitomi Katsuta, people at Padma (an Italian & Bangladeshi restaurant) made the preparations without any sleep and rest. Their teamwork and enthusiasm was really something.

Further on, this project came to life thanks to a friendship from my student years. Ms. Tomoe Mega, an employee of Iwate Prefecture made all kinds of coordination locally. Ms. Mega is a former classmate of mine from college when I studied international relations. On the 25th (Fri) I was on the phone with her almost the whole day. She responded to our wishes, so coordination was probably difficult but she kept her smile till the end. I am truly grateful to her.

I took the liberty to walk around the evacuation shelter and talk to disaster victims.
○ An old lady whose husband was taken by the waves but tries to survive with all her heart up to his share as well.
○ A junior high school student who rushed all the way from Hokkaido to help his or her disaster stricken relatives.
○ Members of the town association who are working night and day devoted to the people of the community even if they were hit by the disaster themselves.
Probably it is very difficult for them now but they still communicated with us as hard as they could.

It is said that life at the shelter is stressful but people were cooperating, making a circle and comforting each other. I felt the strength of the citizens of Ofunato. They can recover for sure. That is what I thought. By the time I realized, I was encouraged myself.

At the end of our curry distribution, I naturally muttered the following words to everyone. At the time of this national disaster, all of us have to join forces. Tokyo is also making efforts. Let us work on it together. Problems faced by Tokyo such as the nuclear plant crisis, the planned power outage and the buying up panic are not small either. However, I strongly think that we must not forget about Tohoku which suffered the most damage.

I believe what we need now is the idea of crossing borders and living together. There are those like Mr. Hassan who thinks of Japan like no one else does. If we end now, then it was merely for our self satisfaction. We will think and carry out what A. P. F. S. can do next.

Originally Ofunato is very beautiful. You have to come after we recovered. Many people told us so. It made my feelings stronger to go back for sure.