The Save Minamisoma Project and the JW Marriott Khao Lak

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On the morning of March 11 2011,  I remember sitting in my living room having breakfast with two house guests.  It was the day before my first triathlon – the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.   On CNN, breaking news from Japan took over the morning headlines with scenes of the devastating tsunami as it hit the shores of North Eastern Japan.  I am sure many will recall the ariel news footage showing scenes of a high speed, debris ridden black wave engulfing the flat farmlands of North Eastern Japan. With this huge wave were complete buildings – some on fire – ships and trucks, all destroying anything in its path…

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I immediately sent a message to my friend living in Tokyo. She of course felt the earthquake and the city had gone into its famous and well rehearsed earthquake emergency plan, fearing more earthquakes and aftershocks.  Thankfully her family from the effected area were also safe.  I did my triathlon and gradually the 11 March tsunami dropped off the news agenda – apart from Fukushima of course.

Fast forward three years and my friend in Tokyo contacted me with a very generous offer.  She is involved in fundraising efforts that provide practical support to survivors from her home area – Minamisoma in the Fukushima prefecture.  Here is a CNN news clip reporting the initial destruction in Minamisoma…

The people of Minamisoma unfortunately suffered an additional blow following the tsunami.  Not only were surviving families homeless due to tsunami destruction, many others were forced to leave their homes due to high radiation levels from the Fukushima nuclear plant reactor meltdowns, 16km south of Minamisoma. Last year, at a fundraiser for the Save Minamisoma Project, my friend’s mother won a voucher  for a two night stay at the JW Marriott at Khao Lak.  For various reasons, they were unable to use it before the expiry date, so it was offered to me.  All I had to do was pick up the voucher from the Marriott Head Office in Bangkok and agree dates with the hotel. I graciously accepted and this blog is my way of thanking her.

So what is the Save Minamisoma Project?

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The project raises funds then purchases and delivers fresh fruit, vegetable and drinking water to the survivors of Minamisoma. Their website explains:

“Donation money will be used to purchase fresh vegetables for delivery every three weeks to the residents of temporary housing shelters in Minamisoma, Fukushima who lost their homes from the tsunami or were forced to evacuate due to the Fukushima radiation. Many have also lost their livelihood due to radioactive contamination of their farmland and the surrounding sea. Our current efforts focus on delivering foods and safe drinking water to residents of the temporary housing units who lost their houses due to the tsunami and forced evacuation due to the radiation.”

What is most admirable about this group of volunteers from Tokyo, Fukushima and Miyagi is their dedication and consistency over the last three years. Within weeks of the tsunami, they were delivering supplies, initially every two weeks.  Their first delivery was on May 3 2011, distributing over nine tons of food and drinks in four trucks they drove up from Tokyo. 13 volunteers took part in the distribution, handing out supplies to 850 residents over three hours.

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On average, every fortnight since 3 May 2011, the group has been visiting the survivors on Minamisoma with fresh produce, drinking water and other supplies. Here are some images take over the last three years – these are obviously from the early days in 2011…

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According to wikipedia, since April 2012, some areas were clear of dangerous radiation level enabling some of the population to return.  This is not an option for many families as their former homes have radioactivity levels still above a safe level, so they remain in temporary shelters – kasetsu jutaku…

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The Save Minamisoma Project is still delivering fresh fruit, vegetables and water/drinks every three weeks right to the residents doorstep. This is mainly due to the mainly elderly age profile of the residents …

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Looking through The Save Minamisoma Project Facebook page and their photo albums of various deliveries, it is obvious the recipients are delighted and value the efforts of this dedicated volunteer group…

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Last month, over the weekend of 22 and 23 February 2014, the Save Minamisoma Project made it’s 60th delivery, which is a huge achievement as well as true dedication to the cause. To view more images of their deliveries, please visit their Facebook page. All Save Minamisoma Project photos on this blog are from their Facebook page, with contributions/photo credits from August Hergesheimer, Philip Duncan, Michael Martin, Guy Cihi and Frankie Cihi.  Apologies if I have left any names out.

None of this valuable work would be possible without three vital components – volunteers, funds and sponsors.  Here is an early picture of the dedicated committee hard at work planning deliveries and fund raisers…

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A snapshot of some of the fundraising activities over the last three years…

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This brings me on to why I am writing this blog – the voucher to stay at the JW Marriott Kao Lak.  Here is the raffle being drawn for the prize, with Jimlim Karatnoot Juntree, PR and Marketing Manager for JW Marriott in Thailand…

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As for my stay at the JW Marriott Khao Lak – well, I couldn’t fault it at all.  What a fabulous resort – truly – many that know me are aware I have been to some very nice places, and this is most certainly one of them.  The gorgeous beach – also a scene of devastation after their tsunami in December 2004

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The huge pool…

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My lovely room with a view of that stunning pool…

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The Spa – although I didn’t use it…

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 I felt like I was in Japan in spirit, so of course I dined at their Japanese restaurant Sakura…

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All too soon my break was over, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the kindness of my friend, the generosity of sponsors like the JW Marriott and, most importantly, the volunteers and supporters of the Save Minamisoma Project. If you are living or visiting Tokyo, please visit their website or Facebook page, support them by either attending or sponsoring their events or donate online. Their work really is making a difference to the people of Minasimosa.

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3 thoughts on “The Save Minamisoma Project and the JW Marriott Khao Lak

  1. Thank you for helping raise awareness! It’s much appreciated (and still needed 3 years after the tsunami).

    We just completed our 62nd delivery yesterday to 5 temporary housing complexes. Thank you for helping to support the people of Tohoku!

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    • Thank you very much – your work is clearly valued and important to the beneficiaries. It is extremely admirable that you have kept this going to those still in temporary housing in this area. Your story is definitely worth spreading! Best wishes with your future fundraising and deliveries.

      Like

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