Deaf woman volunteers to help people in earthquake disaster stricken area

September 28, 2011

SUZUKI Akiko (39), a Deaf-born woman from Saitama Prefecture, is an office worker, and has been tackling support of people in the stricken area by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March.

Akiko was interested in the volunteer activity in her high school days. She had the chance to participate in the volunteer project for the East Japan which the Saitama City Social Welfare Council organized in June.

She has been denied the volunteer activities because of deafness many times, but she applied for the project, feeling anxiously if they would reject her again.

She has volunteered to work twice a month since June, working to clear the debris up in the area, etc.

Through the volunteer project, Akiko has experienced many difficult times. She said, "Even if the disaster victim talked to me at first, I behaved as if I understood him or her. I communicated only with my friends in writing."

Through her frequent visit to the stricken area, she has become confident in herself little by little. She said, "Every time I see those people smile, I feel like to help them more. They have changed me, for I used to be shy."

Akiko's husband Ken-ichi (41), and three daughters understand why she works as a volunteer and support her, too.

Akiko said, "Support of reconstruction in the stricken area requires a lot of time. I hope even we are disabled, we want to do something for the disaster victims."

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