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On November 17, Soka Gakkai youth in Tohoku organized the first Tohoku Restoration Youth Speech Conference in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, an area devastated by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake. Speakers included Kunio Sunou, president of the Ishinomaki Fish Market and three Soka Gakkai youth members. All shared their experiences of overcoming difficulties in the aftermath of the earthquake with hope and courage.
Katsuhiko Sugawara from Ishinomaki City spoke of how the encouragement of other Soka Gakkai members, themselves suffering great hardships due to the earthquake, empowered him to be positive in the face of despair and find a new job after being laid off.
Also from Ishinomaki City, Satoko Hasegawa, who lost her uncle and grandmother at the time of the earthquake, spoke of giving round-the-clock care to the injured as a trainee nurse in the days immediately following the disaster. What enabled her to do this, she shared, was the encouragement of her family and other Soka Gakkai members which led her to complete her training and dedicate herself to the welfare of others as a nurse in Ishinomaki.
Hanae Chiba, a high school student from Higashimatsushima City, shared how volunteering at an evacuation center and struggling to communicate effectively in English with a relief worker from overseas inspired her to make efforts to overcome the language barrier and improve her English skills through spending two weeks in the U.S. with a homestay family.
Mr. Sunou commended the members’ efforts to transform their hardship into an impetus for progress and personal growth.
[Adapted from articles in the November 20 and 22, 2013, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photo courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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