ISHINOMAKI, Japan (CBS4) – A Denver native is part of a group that is in Japan and helping people recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March.

Gavin Wisdom first went to Japan two summers ago and fell in love with the country and its people.

After graduating from Fort Lewis College in May he headed back to do volunteer work in Ishinomaki, an area that was hit hard in the disaster.

“What were your impressions of what you saw when you first got out into the community?” asked CBS4’s Jane Monreal in an interview via Skype with Wisdom.

“At first it was devastating. I really didn’t know what to expect. There are certain areas that are worse than others, but it’s really like walking through a war zone. It’s hard to digest some of that, and really I still am digesting a lot of it,” Wisdom said.

Wisdom was originally part of a team of 12 people who were involved in various tough tasks.

“We’ve been going into houses and doing what we call the three deeds. We take up the floors. We knock out all the walls. And then we remove the mud. So it’s been all physical work up to this point,” he said.

More From Japan’s disaster led to powerful love reactions

Wisdom said there’s a big emphasis on emotional support in the country right now, complete with “cheer up festivals.” He says he has been doing a lot of hanging out with displaced residents in temporary housing.

“For a lot of these people not only did their homes get washed away, but it was their jobs, their livelihood, everything they had to do during the day. Their gardens, everything,” Wisdom said.

From the sound of it, Wisdom could be in Japan helping out for a long time to come.

“There’s a lot of folks out here who have committed to staying for as long as it takes. And you know, I tell everybody I’ve got no plan.”

Additional Resources

Relief efforts are still under way for the victims of the Japanese tsunami. Visit for more information on how you can help the group Wisdom is working with.


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