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Gardens Help Survivors Grow Hope

  • March 7, 2012

350 residents plant crops where homes once stood

Like most residents in the small coastal town of Ogatsu, Mr. Takahashi lost everything in the earthquake and tsunami — including his house. He knows that he cannot safely rebuild so close to the water. But, with help from AmeriCares, Mr. Takahashi can do something where his lifelong home once stood – he can grow a garden.

Each day, AmeriCares and local partner Peace Boat send volunteers to help Mr. Takahashi and 350 other residents in and around Ogatsu create gardens. A nurse arrives, too, to monitor the health of the gardeners—taking their blood pressure and watching for signs of stress and depression.

Since the disaster, many residents have left the area. Elderly people moved closer to hospitals and their adult children. Younger people went to find jobs. Those who remain are somewhat stranded, not knowing if their community will be rebuilt, where or when. 

Amid uncertainty, the gardens bring a measure of stability and comfort to residents: Something they can plan, build and grow. Here, where his living room once stood, Mr. Takahashi will plant tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins.

Mr. Takahashi and the other residents cannot have their homes back. But with soil, seeds and help from AmeriCares, they can cultivate hope for the future.

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