On December 11, a manager of Galapagos, a child welfare center affected by the Saga Prefecture heavy rain in August, gave a lecture at Saga Women’s Junior College about their experience during disaster recovery.
Galapagos provides various programs for children with disabilities from ages 6 to 18, including after school programs, commute services, and personalized training programs. They have climbing boards and trampolines and offer a welcoming atmosphere. The equipment were installed with consultation from an expert to encourage physical activity for hyperactive students and those who have difficulty making decisions for themselves.
The center was opened this April but was flooded in August. The flood water came up over a meter high and their furniture, office supplies, and vehicles were damaged as a result.
The center’s manager, Ms. Yukari Koyanagi, was at a loss for words when she saw the damage to the center a day after the rain and had no idea what to do next. Many things were damaged and the foul smell of mold, mud, and oil from a steel mill hit her. Two days after the rain, the staff members began cleaning up the facility. They pumped the flood water out and wiped the floor with cloths. They were worried whether their students who are sensitive to smell and change could return to the center. However, they kept smiling for the students throughout the restoration work.
Dismantlement of walls and floors began in September but it was difficult to find a contractor since the entire neighborhood was flooded. The center was too busy to ask for volunteers during the first month but they were finally able to bring in volunteers to clean outside.
The center finally resumed its services on November 11. Support from their benefactors kept their spirits up. “Please have empathy to be able to imagine others’ situations, even if you are not experiencing the damage. If you are compassionate, I believe the community can cope better during emergencies,” said Ms. Koyanagi to the students.
Galapagos is currently using a vehicle leased by A-PAD Japan to provide ride services for their students.
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