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A step forward to put the tragedy behind

Ms. Kieko Sanjo who now lives in a temporary housing with her husband at Otsupagawa district in the city of Ishinomaki used to live in the Nagatsura district in the same city before the disaster. Her husband retired several years ago from a plywood company where he had worked for over thirty years,even after retirement, and from time to time,he helped at the company and some money. Ms. Sanjo has two children, both with families, and three grandchildren.

At the time of the disaster, Ms. Sanjyo was at home and the whole house was engulfed by the tsunami,. She managed to air just beneath the ceiling and the water surface. She desperately crawled up the stairs and, and as she had been soaked to the skin by seawater with sludge, she wrapped herself in curtains and blankets keep warm. Her house was completely destroyed.

The tsunami took the lives of her daughter-in-law (her first son's wife)and her two grandchildren; a high school junior and third-grade elementary school boy. When the earthquake came, her late daughter happened to be in the municipal government office. She went to pick up her eldest son at his high school and then her younger son at his elementary school. At about 3 p.m, her husband recieved a message from her, that said "I've picked up the eldest son and waiting for the younger one at the elementary school right now." Moments later, the tsunami engulfed them her and children.

【A footage of Nagatsura district shot in December 2011, still remains submerged.】

--quote--"I've been regretting myself for having survived. Why did the old, like us, survive, when the young, like my daughter and grandchildren, had entire lives ahead of them? I couldn't regret enough."
"While I was at home, I could only remember about my grandchildren. It was so hard. Just seeing children of their age made me tear. Even now, I cannot help but cry when I think of them. So, in order not to put my mind on something else, from about the end of last year, whenever there was some event held at the local meeting place, I tried to take part as much as possible."

【Ms. Sanjo, shown at right in the photo, looking at people planting tulips in autumn 2011.】

"My eldest son who lives in another temporary housing bought a piece of land in inland area. I'm planning to open a sewing class in his new house. I want to teach not as a volunteer but as a professional. I'm also going to invite volunteers who have supported me for tea, and I’m really look forward to the completion of his house."


"Every time I went to the meeting place, there were different groups of people, but there were a few that were there each time and I got acquainted with them. Today, seeing them and their shinning smiles give me energy and emotional support. I can't tell you how much that helped me heal my pain. Words alone could never express my gratitude to them. I think, thanks to those, I could feel calm, and came to live much more positively than last year."

"Since last spring I began to think that I could not keep on receiving relief supplies and encouragement, but I should do something in return. So I've decided to communicate my recovery and my gratitude through a sewing that I've been enjoying doing for years. These days, I volunteer teaching sewing at three locations including the temporary housing where I live."

【Ms. Sanjo, in blue shirt, concentrating on her sewing work.】

【Ms. Sanjo, fully recovered, talks cheerfully with a JEN stuff member.】
Many victims in disaster-stricken areas still live painful lives, suffering considerable psychological damage. JEN will continue to support, standing close to every individual.

【Near the mouth of Kitakami River in Nagatsura District】

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December 13, 2012 in Tohoku earthquake |