A series of massive earthquakes hit the Kyushu area in April 2016. Waseda University’s Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC) has been sending student volunteers to Kumamoto City and Mashiki Town, where the Kyushu Earthquake struck the hardest.
Cleaning up rubble and debris, matching volunteers with assigned tasks, supporting volunteer program administration and management, etc.
・I matched volunteers with tasks, but even with passion and motivation, I realized that it all becomes meaningless without an organized plan. I felt the volunteer activities could have been carried out more effectively if we had researched beforehand the number of volunteers desired and the needs of the community.
・Even when you have noble thoughts of volunteering, you can only do so much. It surely takes time to rebuild communities despite large numbers of people cooperating together. However, I recognized the preciousness of playing a role in supporting a small part of someone’s daily life to feel a sense of comfort.
・Through this volunteer activity, I understood there are different ways to give a lending hand. Some people volunteer in affected areas while others manage and administer volunteer programs. Most people imagine the former when it comes to disaster relief, but the latter volunteers are also necessary.
・Seeing the disaster-struck areas with my own eyes changed everything.
・I experienced firsthand the difficulties and rewards of connecting disaster victims with volunteers.
・Although the management side of disaster relief may not actually go to a site of a disaster, but because there is a strong, organizational backbone, we are able to critically solve problems and swiftly send volunteers.
・Feelings and emotions are important, but in order to truly serve the people in need, I felt it was important to take a step back and think first before taking any action.
・Don’t be satisfied with what you see on TV or the internet. You should visit the earthquake-hit area. I was able to see the realities of Kumamoto after participating in this activity.
・I found out that volunteering in disaster relief does not only mean removing rubble.
・After listening to stories of program administrators and volunteers, I realized the difficulties of sharing information.
・The damage was much bigger than what I saw on TV. Another lesson learned was that although the efforts of individuals may be invisible, collaborative cooperation becomes very powerful.
At WAVOC, we hold pre-orientation and feedback sessions to make sure that volunteering becomes a valuable learning experience for participating students. Learn more about WAVOC’s volunteer projects