Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thank you everyone

Thanks to everyone's support, $20,463 was collected to Yamamoto, and finally transferred to town today, July 28th. The money was transferred to Yamamoto Town designated for use by the schools. So the schools will be able to buy what they want and deduct money from the account.
It has been a long past few months. The town is better off than it had been, but there is still a long and bumpy road that needs to be traveled until recovery will happen. Talk has finally started about where to rebuild the train station, where people can rebuild their houses (the government doesn't want them close the ocean), and other basic things.
I will be leaving Yamamoto on Saturday as my contract ends.

If you are still interested in donating, please contact me. The accounts for the Yamamoto Fund have been closed, but there are other ways to help.

Thank you all for you help!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Farewells and Transfers

It has been an exhausting past two weeks finally trying to tie up loose ends regarding my departure from Yamamoto in August and with the Yamamoto Fund, but things are coming together. The Rotary Club transferred the contents of the American account to the Japanese one this past week, and now I am going to wait just a little longer to do the final transfer up to Yamamoto.
Upon reflection, I honestly think that money is the best way to aid towns that have been stricken by the tsunami. Everyday various goods from around Japan are delivered to our schools, and in some cases, the schools cannot even use the items that come. For example, one junior high school received a ton of tennis rackets as a donation, but actually does not have a tennis team. So while the thought counts, and I understand the desire to send actual items to people, money that the school can use to actually buy what it needs is the most convenient and effective way to help schools.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Only A Bit More To Go!

I realize that I have become gradually worse about updating this blog, and I am really sorry. I have been busy these past few weeks, preparing both to be ending my stay here in Yamamoto as an English teacher in the end of July, and also preparing for an Eagle Scout from Utah that visited Yamashita JH this past Monday until today.
Sterling, the Eagle Scout, and his mother, Wendy, came to my school for 3 days with supplies they had collected in Utah for Yamamoto. Sterling is a soccer player and had the idea to collect soccer supplies for the kids at my school, and actually through this blog they found out about the needs in Yamamoto. Sterling came with his mom and stayed at a Buddhist Temple about a 5 minute walk from Yamashita JH, and then during the day Sterling took classes with my 9th graders and Wendy helped in the English class. Sterling also practiced with the soccer team after school. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, but after he left today, all my students kept telling me that they wished he had stayed longer (especially one girl who thought he looked like Justin Bieber and fell in love with him), and it would have been nice if he could have. 3 days was enough to get a taste of Yamamoto, but a week, or even a month would have given him more of a chance to settle in and digest the experience more. Well, there will always be next time!
Wendy also contributed to the Yamamoto Fund, which put be a step closer to $20,000. I actually did not realize how close I was until this week, and with a little more help I will make it there.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I wanted to take the chance, here, to thank everyone who donated to the Yamamoto Fund. I am writing thank you letters, but I am not sure that they will reach everyone, but I just wanted to say thank you. It means a lot that everyone has come together to help Yamamoto after this huge disaster.

I just wanted to take a moment to make a breakdown of the collections:

Currently in the Central Bucks Rotary account (check and pay pal): $5245
Expected from other sources in the US who have collected but not deposited: about $2000

Currently in Koshigaya Higashi Rotary account: 423,123 yen ($5250)
Expected from other sources in Japan who have collected but not deposited: 300000 ($3722)

So, the grand total is currently $16217 or 130万7千009円.

I am starting to pull everything together in the US to get ready for a wire transfer to the Japanese account. I would like to have the money donated by early July, so I think the transfer will happen mid-June, then another transfer to my town in early July. It will still be possible to donate after the transfer to my town, but I want to get the money here sooner rather than later so that it can be used.
Again though, thank you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Into the Temporary Housing

It seems that Yamamoto has finally got some temporary houses built, and that people are finally slowly starting to move out of the schools. The people living at the schools are no longer in the main area where classes are held, but rather in gyms and other sports practice areas. In order to get the school back to 100% and also to give people a bit more privacy, temporary housing is necessary. Although I saw temporary, these places are really meant for quite some time as people may not be able to build a house for up to 2 years, or maybe even longer as not everyone has the financial means to rebuild either. I am sure problems will surface over time, but now it is important to move victums out of public areas so the town can return to normal.
This said though, spirits are not low. People are searching for work, and there are tons of constructions jobs. Not only building, but also clearing debris. My Japanese drum group hosted a small music festival last week, trying to raise people's spirits. It was a relativly big success, over 800 people came.
School is normal, excpet that some students have very long commutes because their families moved and they did not want to transfer schools. The longest is a boy that commutes from Sendai, about 2 hours one way. That is a lot for a 15 year old boy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back in 山元

So I am back in Yamamoto now. There have been a few aftershocks everyday, but none that bad (only a 5 on the richter scale!). I have also been working at the city hall, moving things around between schools and the big city gym that is now a warehouse. I also volunteered all day, and probably will again tomorrow. Today was handing out clothes, but tomorrow will be shoveling.
Anyway, update on the Yamamoto Fund. There will be an article run on the Conn College website, and also articles run in the Express-Times and the Morning Call (from my local area in the Lehigh Valley in PA). I had an interview last week with some middle schoolers at Moravian Academy (my Alma Mater), so I hope the word will be spread further about the Yamamoto Fund. Things seem to be going great! I have heard that there are a lot of people who have collected, so once they deposit the money I will update my thermometer bar on the right side.
Also, there are more pictures that I took this past week I have been back.