Kyushu – 21st – 26th of August – Bye Kyushu
This is our last album from Kyushu.
Actually writing this from the road. We left early this morning, aiming to reach Osaka today so that Yannick can rest up for tomorrows 14 hour drive. I, as a non driver, have the task of keeping Yannick awake for the drive, and making him take breaks. Something I am very well suited for. Got to feel sorry for Yannick though, two days trapped in a car with only me to talk to…
We are very sad to be leaving Kyushu. Not only because of all the lovely people we’ve met and helped/worked along side, but because there’s still work to do there. If it wasn’t for a certain truck driver who destroyed a certain NPO’s Delica, we would just be rotating in members instead of leaving. But without an appropriate vehicle, we have little choice in the matter. Grrr.
We did a lot of physical labour in Kyushu. The mud shovelling, sandbagging and house tear down stuff was easy to predict. But something I really want to talk about is the amount of really boring stuff like moving furniture and tidying up sheds we did. And how important I think it is.
The youngest home owner we helped was in her fifties. The oldest was 95. The vast majority of the rest fell on the greyer side of their sixties.
I’m generally happy to do more or less anything to help out, but I get huge amounts of satisfaction when I move heavy stuff for old people. It might because I was very close to my own grandmother, I dunno. But I remember leaving one persons house after Colin and myself had moved some heavy stuff (chests of drawers, old TV which weighs over 100kg, a safe), and saying to him “man.. it was easy for us but it would have been impossible for her and her friend to do..”.
It’s the same for tidying up sheds. Like elderly people EVERYWHERE, the obachan and ojisan in Aso love to hoard everything. Which isn’t really a problem until a landslide messes it all up and you need to throw stuff out/tidy it up. And when you have a lots of wood in your shed (and EVERYONE has LOTS of wood in their shed), it becomes a mammoth task.
This isn’t something you can ask the city to help you with. Which is understandable. And as the community is all elderly, the neighbours can’t really help much either. Kids are in their sixties, not that great at heavy labour. Grandkids are in University, or simply not around. So there’s not really anyone to rely on.
In the month + we were in Kyushu, we become close with the community we worked in. While we didn’t know everyone, everyone recognised us as volunteers and thanked us for coming. While the fact that most of our volunteers weren’t Japanese, everyone treated us very warmly, to the extent that I really feel moved by it.
I’ll miss everyone all the friends I made in Aso, but I’ll definitely go back one day to say hi, and eat some more Aso beef too.
Thanks to everyone who supported us, both financially and with their best wishes, to our team in Miyagi who had to work extra hard to pick up the slack we left when we left and to all the volunteers we worked with.