Friday, September 9, 2011

Day1: Their Photo Albums

I was planning to start the volunteering with some majorly hardcore physical labor, but signed up for photo team accidentally. at the end of the day, I am actually glad that I have taken this job, and decide to clean more photos for one week. Our main job is to clean photos that relief workers or volunteers have picked up when they are cleaning up the debris. Because the photos were soaked in sea water and often have mud on them, we gently remove them from the album, or whatever left of it, and wash with in water to prevent bacteria growth in future.

As our bus passed by the area close to the ocean, there are mountains of debris. Although I know in my head that these are Fremains of houses, buildings, I just couldn't register and sink in the idea that this construction site-like place was once a community, once a place full of life and people living here. I think it will take some time before it can sink in.

The photos were so fragile, but contain so much memories and lives once lived. Baby naked after bath, high school graduation trip, wedding... one of all photo sets that caught me the most was a picture of a middle school class reunion, grandmas and grandpas stood neatly in rolls with their beloved teachers, just the same as if they had once taken the class photo in their old days in middle school. They were laughing and cheering in the photos, their teacher giving them a speech on the stage... as I washed the mud off the photo surface, I can't help but to think if the owner of this photo is alive to ever see this precious memory again.

I have to say, it is not job for everyone. Emotional aspect for one, and some people are simply more the action-type. I am not really the delicate type that handles fragile things very well usually, but this I just have to do. Playback theater honors stories of life through playing them out on the stage. This photo cleaning honors stories of life through gently gliding the fragile damaged photo through the water, brushing residual mud that stained the surface and restoring the memory as much as we can. One girl and a guy came back, taking 2 full boxes of cleaned photo album back to where they live and let ppl check through them to see if their photo are there. Wynne asked us to remember their faces, because they have come from time to time to ask if we have found their pictures. The girl's house was entirely gone, so has her previous life. I pray that she will find hers one day.

For more photos of Day1, click
Ofunato tsunami relief work

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