Many people want to go to the Tohoku region to help in the colossal clean-up following the magnitude-9 Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 and the resulting tsunami that hit some 400 km of the coastline.

I was one of those people, but I also wondered if there was more I could do — so I decided to take my 13-year-old son, Alex, and some of his friends of the same age from Yokohama International School to volunteer there along with me.

As the school's year ended on June 17, we resolved to set off for a few days' work in Tohoku the following Monday, June 20. However, it turned out to be not quite so easy, because, due to safety concerns, volunteer organizations such as Peace Boat do not accept minors. Thus I had to organize the trip myself — which involved calling at least 12 volunteer centers in tsunami-hit municipalities in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures.