Naoko Kurauchi (MSc International Health 2009)
Naoko reflects on life post-tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
I am currently working in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture. I'm employed by the city as a public health nurse. We hold toddlers' health check ups, support mothers, keep in touch with people needing help in the community, but most of the time connect these people to the appropriate places. We're very close to the citizens- the only ones along with police who are allowed to visit people's houses without legal permission.
I've only been working for month. Plenty to do, lots of hands on experience, so many things that I would not have known unless I came here. The only thing I can say for certain is that there is so much sadness/grief hidden everywhere in the area, it's so easy to live without stopping to think about it. But it's definitely there - Okawa Primary school - it's the school that lost 70 out of 100 of the students. There were lots of schools swept away but most of the students in Tohoku were safe- they knew how to evacuate.
There were many mistakes in the decisions made by the teachers at Okawa Primary that day of the tsunami, they could have made the kids climb the hill next to the school, then this wouldn't have happened. A mother came the other day to her 3year old child's health check-up. She lost her two older children who attended the school. A year on from the disaster, she goes back to the school everyday to search for her children. It's just unbelievable, how it swept away everyone's happiness.
Many people are displaced. What amazes me is their will to go back to the land they grew up in and reconnect with their communities. They're proud to be from Tohoku and even makes me proud to be working with them.