Sailors help community building event in tsunami stricken Japan
MINAMI SANRIKU, Japan (NNS) – Naval Air Facility Misawa Sailors and the First Class Petty Officer’s Association (FCPOA) assisted the Ortiz Global Academy for Aid (O.G.A. For Aid) in facilitating a survivor’s benefit and community building event for the people of Minami-Sanriku, Japan.
Minami-Sanriku was devastated by the 2011 tsunami and is still in recovery five years later.
O.G.A. For Aid is a group of international volunteers that began to work with disaster survivors after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's North East territory. O.G.A. For Aid is based out of Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi Prefecture and is the longest running international aid organization in Tohoku and have been organizing community rebuilding workshops and events since March 2011.
“This area was absolutely destroyed back in 2011,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Thornton, the Navy event organizer. “I figure this is the best way that we Sailors can give back to our host nation and continue to show them that they have our unwavering support.”
The two-day long event started with the Sailors arrival and immediately setting up the event. Once completed, the guests started to arrive and were greeted by smiling Sailors giving handshakes, hugs, and high-fives.
“When you see the smiles of local people at O.G.A's events, you know the reason why you continue,” said Mayor Sato Jin of Minami-Sanriku. “So if you can, always remember for whom you are doing what you do".
Over the course of the next few hours members from the community and Sailors interacted over food, drinks, and musical performances.
The second day consisted of the Sailors assisting members of O.G.A. For Aid in creating holiday cards and assembling over 250 stockings to be distributed to the Minami-Sanriku elementary schools.
The FCPOA also organized a coat drive before heading down and collected over 250 coats to be distributed to the local area.
“This is my 4th time organizing a trip down there and assisting O.G.A. For Aid with events that benefit this community,” said Thornton. “We get down here about three times a year and I see us continuing to do so and making a difference.”