At six in the morning, the alarm sounds and the bodies sleeping on the floor of the Tono sports hall come to life. After a hurried breakfast, there are morning exercises and the first pep talk of the day before teams of volunteers are bussed to the tsunami-hit regions an hour and a half away. The Magokoro relief center is the only facility in the region that accommodates long-term volunteers, and in the seven and a half months since the disaster, some 40,000 people have passed through its doors.
Though conditions there are fairly rudimentary — tatami mats and a gym hall for sleeping, microwaves and hot water for cooking — the operation runs with military precision. Every day since March, the center has sent out teams of volunteers to wherever they are needed. Their tasks range from shoveling tons of rotting fish from farmland to recovering photographs and personal items from the wreckage.
Read the rest of the story: In Japan’s Disaster Zone, Volunteers Help Recovery.