CONTRIBUTED BY AMANDA MARSHALL
The grave damage caused by the March 11, 2011, earthquake & tsunami is out of the news, but I was recently there to volunteer, and I can tell you first hand that it is nowhere near being over. They are still in the first phase of cleaning up the disaster – a lot of progress has been made – but in most parts along the coast, it looks like the tsunami JUST hit. Towns that were literally wiped out still have debris strewn and look and feel like ghost towns. It’s out of the news, and off our minds, but the need is still very great.
I volunteered for about a week with a relief organization called CRASH Love on Japan, which plans to be on the ground doing relief work there for the next few years. They are continuously sending teams all along the stricken coast to do cleanup work and to bring supplies to temporary housing units where thousands upon thousands of survivors are. Many of these units were provided without appliances or even a rice cooker. CRASH has been able to buy and distribute simple items like these. This particular organization will soon be transitioning into After-Care with survivors, many of whom have lost entire families and their livelihood. I was told repeatedly that depression and suicides are rampant.
CRASH is a Christian organization, but there are others that you can volunteer with. World Vision is still there as well as Samaritan’s Purse. You can go through local non-religious city groups as well. Please email me (below) if you are interested or would like more information. I took a hop from Kadena to Yokota (the organization I was with is headquartered outside Tokyo) and it was very easy getting there and coming back… and fun actually! I got to see so much while I was there. Was I concerned with radiation? Yes, until I started doing a little research with my husband. We did not go near the blocked off area around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and CRASH has been regularly testing the radiation levels in every location we worked in, which remain normal.
If you’re not able to volunteer there are other ways to help. You can donate to any of the organizations listed above.
Even just knowing that the suffering of our neighbors up North is still ongoing is very significant.
Here is more information on Japan’s coast.
Contact info for Amanda: [email protected]