The club, like many other Rotary Clubs across the Borders and Scotland, were left stunned by the traumatic events that were broadcast globally and the families being helped by the shelter boxes have expressed their amazement at the generosity donors around the world have shown towards them.
Shelter Box Response Teams (SRTs) continue to work along the affected areas of Japan’s north east coast. They are delivering emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families who lost all they had when the tsunami struck.
In Yamamoto, a town near Sendai, SRT members from the UK and the USA found 30 families living in cars outside an evacuation centre. The families’ homes were destroyed when the tsunami hit and they have been living in their cars ever since. Shelter Boxes have now been delivered to all 30 families as they attempt to rebuild their lives.
One of the people to move into a Shelter Box tent was Toshi Iche Iwasa, an 80 year old man who had been living with two of his family members in the back of his vehicle after losing his home in the tsunami.
When the earthquake and tsunami struck, he was picking strawberries at a small family farm. He said the earthquake was so strong it was difficult to describe. Everything began to shake and he took cover on the ground. When he tried to pick himself up he couldn’t and his wife was only able to crawl across the floor towards him. In the 80 years of his life he has experienced many earthquakes but nothing like this one.
As soon as he heard the tsunami warning he and his wife headed straight to his car and drove for higher ground. They never expected to the tsunami to be the size and scale that it was. His home was completely destroyed; crushed by debris in the wave with the scattered pieces being swept out to sea.
Mr Iwasa added he was lucky because his children and two grandchildren made it to higher ground but their homes were also destroyed. Since that time, they have all been living in their vehicles. Now, Mr Iwasa and eight of his relatives are living in a Shelter Box tent.
SRT member Mark Dyer said: “It was great to move Mr Iwasa and his family into one of our tents. He was so excited to talk to his family and let them know they could start living together.
“He was amazed that donors from all over the world work with Shelter Box to bring this type of lifesaving equipment to people who lose everything in a disaster. He just kept saying ‘Arigato (thank you) Shelter Box’.
“One of the things that has upset them the most is they’ve lost a home full of memories. They said they are so grateful for ShelterBox for providing them a home where their family can live together safely.”