Like with many natural disasters, governments and large corporations throw money and supplies in relief efforts.  Although the aid is greatly appreciated and needed by the victims, there is always this lingering cynicism that these donations were done out of self-serving motives.  Especially when said company releases an ad tooting their own horn about the contributions they made.

However, a largely unsung gesture by FujiFilm has recently celebrated its milestone of restoring over 1,000,000 photos recovered from earthquake devastated areas.  The cynic in you may ask what the big deal is about cleaning some photos when these people need food and shelter.

“The memories the photos give us can’t be bought” explained project leader Yuichi Itabashi.  And while that may sound cliché the truth of it hit many volunteer workers like a cold bucket of water.

“I would come across a tattered photo of a laughing baby and look at it wondering; ‘is this baby was still living as happily or.’ I would have to fight back the tears.  I kept telling myself to put aside my feelings and focus on my work, but I couldn’t.” one 30 year-old volunteer said.

She was one of the over 1,500 people who volunteered in FujiFilm’s ongoing Photo Relief Project to help rescue people’s memories.  In the program any photograph found in the damaged areas is collected, cleaned, and posted in the local community center where the rightful owner can claim it.

While you may have been touched by her testimony, again the cynic in you is probably saying that FujiFilm is just appealing to our sentimentality to boost its own image.  But looking into how much effort is involved in this process may change things.

First off to ensure the quality of photo restoration is the highest.  The company sent teams to each damaged area to run soil tests.  This was done so they could find the bacteria contents of each area’s soil and determine their effects on the colors of the pictures.  This information was then used to instruct each volunteer how to best clean each photograph delicately and effectively.

This level of care in volunteer efforts is not unheard of for this company either.  A few years ago when Aichi was flooded from heavy rains, FujiFilm rushed to research how best to clean photos that were submerged in salt water.  This was after realizing that their previous manual had only explained how to clean photos that were submerged in muddy water.

I imagine the hardest cynics out there still aren’t impressed but whatever FujiFilms motivations are the ends more than justifies the means in this case.  To provide photos, in some cases of lost family, to their owners can relieve an emotional burden that in the words of Mr. Itabashi “can’t be bought.”

Source:  News Post Seven  (Japanese)