What To Expect

Volunteer work can affect people in very different and,  at times, strong ways. For most people, we can safely say that you would never have had such an experience before, or worked in this kind of an environment. This page serves to prepare first time volunteers for the experience, as well as make them aware of some basic rules that we implement for everyone’s benefit.

Common Sense Conduct

  • You are a guest in an area that previously had very little interaction with people from other countries, and in some remote places, limited contact with the rest of Japan. Please be aware that how you behave reflects on all volunteers, and a positive image of volunteers helps us work more efficiently. Things like acknowledging people on the street and around town, smiling and being friendly go a long way.
  • We stay at two houses in an area which was quite badly hit by the Tsunami. Although you are a guest, we are not a hotel. You will be expected to tidy up after yourself and help out around the house.
  • No smoking inside either houses. 
  • So as not to be a nuisance to our neighbors and other volunteers, please be mindful of your noise levels. If you are being too noisy, you will be asked to be quiet. Please don’t take offence!
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, please do so in moderation. Although volunteering is a lot of fun, this is not a holiday but a serious long-term effort we are undertaking. Having a few drinks after work is fine, getting drunk and disorderly is not. If you can’t tell when you have had enough, we will tell you.

Work Type & Daily Schedule

  • Type of work changes on a daily basis. Sometimes we are doing hard manual labor like digging gutters, gutting houses. Other days it could be a children’s festival we are helping organize (which is just as tiring/dangerous, but more fun!). Every night around 9pm, you will be informed about what work you will be doing next day.
  • Daily schedules are STRICT
    • Typically you have to be all geared up and ready by 8:00am. This means you have to be awake by 7:00am.
    • Lunch time is around 12:00 to 13:30.
    • We normally finish work around 16:00. You can relax the rest of the evening, take a shower, walk around etc.
    • We ask volunteers to quieten down after 22:00, and its lights out at midnight.
  • Please note that this is a dynamic and at times chaotic disaster zone. Despite our best efforts, sometimes schedule problems cannot be avoided due to weather/work issues etc. Keep this in mind and bring along a healthy sense of humour (we will provide the board games)!

Living Arrangements

  • All volunteers stay in two houses which are about 10  minutes walk from each other. Everyone sleeps on the floor. We provide futons and blankets, you can bring along sleeping bags and sheets if you like.
  • In general, girls and boys sleep in separate rooms, but there are occasions when this is not possible.
  • The houses are equipped with western toilets and running water (this might sound obvious to some.. but remember that we live IN a disaster zone. Until November 2011, water and heating were a luxury).
  • For showers we either shower at one of the houses or go to an Ofuro. This is a Japanese style public bathing place. If you have never been to one, the experience is unique and very much part of Japanese culture. You will however have to undress and bathe among strangers (men and women segregated).
  • We suggest a donation of 750 yen/day to partially cover costs of hosting volunteers (food, fuel, electricity, water etc). You are also welcome to make an additional donation towards the operation costs or our projects.
  • We have wireless internet which can be used by all, but please be aware that Japanese digital law does not allow illegal downloading of movies etc.

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