With natural disaster comes disruption. For many in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, it was losing the bonds that tie communities together that has had a lasting impact. In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami residents entered temporary shelters, disrupting long-standing neighborhood connections.
Nearly five years later, only thirty percent of residents have been moved out of temporary shelters. With the return of the fishing industry the days of the working-age are full, but seniors have few places to gather. In order to fill the gap Peace Winds Japan partnered with Viva Minamisanriku, a local nonprofit, to build a community center for seniors and the disabled. The Cheerful Valley Community Center provides a place for old and new friends to reconnect and build anew the community that was lost in 2011.
Days at Cheerful Valley are full of purpose, including outings, classes, conversations over tea, visits to other affected communities, games and crafts. The importance of the center is undoubtable: more than 400 participants took part in organized activities in the first two months after Cheerful Valley opened and the trend continues. Friendships are rekindled every day as former neighbors find themselves once again side by side.
Peace Winds support will allow the community center to remain open, serving and empowering the residents of Minamisanriku.
READ MORE > about Peace Winds’ work in Tohoku.