By Kate O’Berg
“It’s been over three years and there are people that still need our help. We will help them until they don’t need us.” That is what’s running through the mind of August Hergesheimer, founder and chairperson of The Save Minamisoma Project. August, a Tokyo business man, jumped into action shortly after hearing that there were people literally starving in the Minamisoma area after the disaster. While other organizations were afraid to come close to the “zone”, August quickly gathered funds and located volunteers. He bought enough food for 1,000 people and led his team to Minamisoma. He didn’t expect that there would be thousands more people needing his help.
Even three years on, the same method of gathering funds, volunteers and donations is used, because the people here still need the assistance. It may not be for the same reasons as in the past, but it is still important and relevant. Volunteers and donations are still needed. The Save Minamisoma Project has been a true mental staple in the temporary communities and will continue to play a role for years to come.
On delivery day, locals fill the air with a buzz of excitement as the caravan of volunteers and delivery trucks approach the temporary housing units. Some locals pick out volunteers by name, others by the smile on their faces. As the volunteers set up the tables and unload wheel barrels to prep for the delivery, locals line up. Children run about, excited for their package of goodies brought by volunteers. That’s when the fun starts. When you’re standing in line, with wheel barrel in hand and a local standing beside you, you’ll feel an array of emotions. Every person is different, but I would say there’s a sense of gratitude between both the volunteer and the person receiving the donation. Some people who receive the donations are silent, guilt stricken that they’re receiving assistance, but there are many who’re grateful and look forward to sharing their stories. This brings to light that it’s not only food they need now, it’s the mental care that this project provides.
People don’t like to feel forgotten. It’s one of the worst feelings one can go through, but that’s exactly what locals living in temporary homes go through daily. With the Save Minamisoma Project, our foremost aim is to not let people feel forgotten. The food is just a tool for bringing people out of their cramped homes and engaging in conversation. More than ever, conversation and a sense of camaraderie are needed here in Minamisoma. Volunteers are still needed for our biweekly deliveries. If you want to know more, please check out their facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/113980158685755/ ) or website: www.saveminamisoma.org. The next delivery is 7/20. Come out and get involved!