I received an email last week. It was a thank you message to adidas, forwarded to me by my old company. In 2012 I'd arranged for the mayor of the town of Rikuzentakata to come and talk to us about his vision for the future. We didn't want him to talk about the tsunami but that was inevitably part of the story. He wanted to change his town so it would be somewhere families would want to live and children would want to stay. Before the wave it was already declining and the events of that day just accelerated the trend.
Coming out of this talk was the beginning of a relationship between the town and the company. People volunteered their time to visit the schools and events were arranged for the children to enjoy. One of the senior team even took the idea to a global level and this resulted in the home town of adidas becoming twinned with Rikuzentaka itself.
Another act was to provide a new baseball uniform for the children, and this brings me back to the letter. It wasn't simply a note of thanks but it explained the importance to them I'm sure no one had realised in advance. The letter explained that before the tsunami there had been three schools but afterwards these were merged into one. The loss of life, facilities and subsequent relocation of families had meant three schools were no longer viable.
The letter explained that at first the children had difficulty coming together. There were rivalries between the different groups and this extended even to the sports field where they found it hard to work together. The letter goes as far as saying they didn't think they would ever see themselves as being one team. And then adidas provided them with a new uniform. It had brought everyone together. Now they were all the same. They felt completely different and much more positive. Now they were one team.