今日はピーターが一旦シンガポールに戻る前、日本にいる最後の日なので、大学の友達のゆかりと3人で味の素スタジアム避難所に行ってきた。4回目の避難所だったので、本部でどなたと何を話せばいいのか、すでに頭の中に入っている。最初は絶対断られるのは覚悟しておいたので、案の定断られたときは冷静に対応した。そして、驚くことに、登録せずに行ったので、最初私たちの活動を拒んでいたが、なぜか私たちを子供たちのプレイルームに案内してくださった。

Today was the last day before Peter flies back to Singapore for the time being, and so we headed down to Ajinomoto Stadium Evacuation Centre with Yukari, a friend from my university. This being our fourth visit to a evacuation centre, and having been rejected for the past two times at the volunteer station (because we went without registering nor acquiring any permission), I was all ready to be rejected for the third time running. I knew what I had to say, I knew what they would say, and I knew eventually we have to just leave in disappointment. To our pleasant surprise, despite being rejected at first, perhaps they were moved by our actions and project, they allowed us into the children’s playroom.

中に入らせてくださったあらし先生。Ms. Arashi, the lady who let us into the children playroom even though we had not registered beforehand.

新学期が始まったので子供たちの多くは学校に行ったらしくて、避難所に残った子供たちはわずかしかいなかったということ。それでも一緒に絵を描いたりゲームしたりして、とても楽しい時間を過ごせた。しかし、担当の方にたるものと話した時、非難してきた子供たちの家族や事情を聞いてみたら、みんながどういうふうに苦労して東京に辿り着いたかと聞いたとき、笑顔が消えてしまった。地震と津波のあと、ただでさえ見たことにトラウマができたのに、財布だけ持って車で福島から新潟へと逃げた家族。新潟の避難所は満員だったので断れて、仕方なく東京に向かったが、途中ガソリンもなくなっちゃって、2泊ぐらい車で寝たという。そして、かろうじて東京の避難所に辿り着いた。

As the school semester just commenced, many of the children had started going to school, and so only few children were left at the evacuation centre. We had a great time drawing pictures and playing games together, but when I started asking the in-charge about their families and situations, the smile on my face slowly vanished. After the earthquake and tsunami wrecked their hometowns, they fled their homes only with their wallets. As they arrived at Niigata Prefecture to seek refugee, they were rejected because the evacuation centre there was already full. They had no choice but to head toward Tokyo, but unfortunately on the way, they ran out of gasoline and had to stay in their cars for two nights. After which, they somehow managed to arrive at the current evacuation centre.

お父さんが単身赴任で宮城県に行っていて、お母さんは東京で家と仕事を探している、6歳のななせちゃん。それでも、終始一貫笑顔でいる。そして、絵を描いてもらえないかな?って聞いたら、私の名前を紙に書いて、私にプレゼントした。本当に感無量でした。家族はそばにいなくて、家にも帰れないかもしれないし、何もないななせちゃんは、私を泣かせるところだった。

Nanase-chan, a 6 year-old girl whose father left for Miyagi Prefecture for his work, and her mother struggling to find a home and job in Tokyo. Despite this, she never stopped smiling. When I asked her to draw a picture for me, she wrote my name on the paper and presented it to me. Without her family by her side, and with a lingering possibility of not being able to return to her home, Nanase-chan with nothing in her hands almost made tears in my eyes.

最初はやっぱりトラウマで無口になっていた子供たちは、一緒に遊びに来たボランティアたちのおかげで、笑顔が取り戻った。家の話になると泣きだすぐらい、心に傷がついてしまったが、これこそ子供たちを強くさせると思った。子供たちがボランティアたち、それからお互いと仲良くなっているが、いつかはみんなばらばらになるでしょう。福島に戻る人もいれば、東京に住みつく家族もいるだろう。そして、どっち道、生活をゼロから立て直さなきゃいけないという。本当に切ない。

Many of these children were traumatized to silence at first, but all thanks to the volunteer staff who came to play with them. They opened their hearts and brought the smiles back to their faces. Even then, when the topic of their homes is brought up, they start crying. Pain and fearful memories do not disappear easily, but I believe this is what will make them stronger in future. Even as the children get closer to the volunteers and each other, the day would come when they have to say goodbye to each other. Families have two choices- return to their homes in Fukushima or find a place to settle down in Tokyo. In both situations, they have to rebuild their lives from scratch. My heart aches for them.

最後に、積極的にボランティアした人たちにも感謝しています。皆さんはそれぞれ違う方法で子供たちを喜ばせようとするが、最終目的はみんな一緒だ。一緒に頑張りましょう!

Last but not least I would like to show my appreciation to the volunteer staff. We all have different ideas to make these children happy, but we all have a common aim. Let’s continue with our efforts to the best of our abilities!

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