Profiles of Kumamoto Evacuees

Kazuto and his family had a hard time finding a shelter that would allow their cat Leon

Manami and her three-year old son Kazuto (pictured above) lost their home to the Kumamoto earthquakes. The family feline, Leon, made finding a home difficult as many disaster shelters did not allow pets. Fortunately, the family found Peace Winds who provided them with a pet-friendly shelter through spring and summer. The three just moved to a temporary home where they are building a future with Manami’s mother and her two sisters.

The quakes destroyed Rumiko’s and her husband’s home and business. The destruction left them with a tough decision. The two own three dogs, but local shelters wouldn’t allow animals. In order to keep the family together, they chose to live out of their car for three months. Thanks to Peace Winds they were allowed to move in to a pet-friendly housing camp. Thankfully, they now have a temporary house, but Rumiko admitted that without a business and permanent residence, they are anxious about their future.

Families like Makela’s are very common. They are living day-to-day, hoping they can save enough money to start rebuild their homes. When Peace Winds staff visited Torbeck, we saw tarpaulins were used in a variety of ways. Some used it to create kitchen areas. In Haiti, it is very common to have the kitchen separate from the house due to charcoal usage for fuel.

Kimito stocking shelves

The PWA team first met Kimito while he stocked the shelves at the local grocery store. He’s only 17 years old, but the earthquakes forced him to grow up fast. He attends online high school in the evening, so he can work shifts at the store during the day. With four brothers, his parents and the family dog, the already small temporary home is full. We had a chance to interview Kimito and he’s worried for his hometown. Recovering from this level of damage is difficult and takes time, he’s not sure if things will ever be the same.

For many Kumamoto evacuees the move to temporary housing is just the beginning of rebuilding. Many issues remain: paying to move the rubble of their former homes, rebuilding or repairing their damaged houses, restarting their small businesses after losing shops and customers, maintaining a sense of family and community within the temporary housing, especially for the elderly and disabled. Please stay tuned as we consider the best way to help in the coming months. Your support of Kumamoto has literally saved lives and brought hope in dark days. Manami, Kazuto, Rumiko, Kimito and their families and neighbors say thank you.

For the past five months Kumamoto earthquake evacuees have been living in basic shelters, tents, and housing camps in Mashiki and Nishihara.  Peace Winds has been providing shelters, food, and counseling, targeting those with children, pets, and special needs.  The Local and Central Governments have nearly completed building more suitable housing for the evacuees, and Peace Winds is now planning to move 2,000 families to the new homes and provide them with basic household supplies.

 The move to better housing is long awaited and in time for the change of seasons.  The new housing will provide increased privacy, more space, and necessary amenities required to make it a “home” including indoor kitchens and bathrooms, a welcome change for evacuees who have long shared latrines and communal kitchens.  The evacuees will be in temporary housing up to three years. Peace Winds will be assisting the evacuees with their move as the new housing is completed.  Additionally Peace Winds will provide the families with kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies, vacuum cleaners, air filters/dehumidifiers, heating carpets, and heaters.   Peace Winds is planning to have the all evacuees in their new housing by the end of 2016.

 Peace Winds welcomes your support to relocate 2,000 families from Mashiki and Nishihara to new housing and to provide each family with basic household set-up kits to make the new homes more comfortable.  Thank you.