The people of the Northern "Tohoku" region of Japan, have not been so fortunate, as I have. Their offices were flooded. Their schools were abandoned. Their stores were destroyed. They have lost friends and family members both. They have cried, and perhaps laughed a little as well, I hope. They have gotten by with living, if they are the lucky ones. They can't pay bills nor taxes. There is no gasoline with which to fill their cars, which no longer function. They have watched no movies, and played no video games. They have suffered. They have lost. They have been through hell.
It has been one year since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake erupted off the Pacific coast of Northern Japan due to the shifting of a sublimation plate, which subsequently created a massive 60ft high tsunami that raged across coastal cities, destroying and killing everything in its path. As crazy as it seems, it has already been a year. It has flown by for me since I have been busy with school and work and generally getting on with my life. For the people of Tohoku, I imagined it has seemed much longer.
The video above is a documentary produced by the BBC about the effects the earthquake and tsunami have had, told through the perspectives of the children who have lived through it. These children show a maturity and level of personal growth and understanding that I can say is lacking in most adults. It's difficult to watch at times, because the stoicism these children show despite the tragedies they have endured is heartbreaking in a way. They have had to grow up almost overnight and now live in a world of radiation checks, lost friends and broken dreams. But I know they will grow up to do great things, in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. It is only one hour long and I think this video should have over 10,000,000 hits easily. Please watch it so that we won't become complacent and too caught up in our own lives. Never take what you have for granted because it can be taken away in an instant, never to return.
One of the things I admire about the people of Japan is their sense of teamwork. They band together in times of crisis to help one another and get the job done as smoothly, quickly, and efficiently as possible. They came back after the "Great Kanto Earthquake" of 1923, which registered 7.9. They came back after the USA dropped atom bombs on two of their cities in 1945. They came back after the 6.8 Kobe earthquake of 1995 killed approximately 6,400 people. They are a hard-working and industrious people and they will come back from the Tsunami of 2011. But not in one year.
The damage inflicted by this catastrophe will take time to heal. We can help shorten that time. As I mentioned on this blog a few weeks ago, the people of Tohoku still need our help. Fishermen need boats, farmers need crops, children need schools and everyone needs food, water, and shelter. The government of Japan is a bloated bureaucracy, mired in red tape. We can do more for the people of Japan than their government can.
The charity I mentioned in the other blog post is called OGA for Aid. They are a small organization that doesn't have the manpower or resources of the Red Cross, but they are local, they have boots on the ground and they are working right now to heal the wounds and make this area a better place to live.
I know economic times are tough for everyone around the world, but if you can't donate your money, just donate five minutes to e-mail your friends about their website and maybe even give them a link to the documentary above. You can even "like" OGA for Aid on Facebook. They post videos and pictures of their progress on a regular basis so you can actually see how your money is helping. They are also very friendly and would love you answer any questions you have about their organization.
One more thing. I changed the photo at the top of this blog a few weeks ago. It has a picture of Matsushima bay, near Sendai, the date of the earthquake, 3.11.11, and a haiku I wrote that says "Tohoku no hito no kurou wo wasureruna." which translates to "Never forget the suffering of the people of Tohoku." I made it to be a reminder to all those who visit this website, but I mostly did it to remind myself. I'm just as susceptible as anyone to getting lost in my own "problems" with school, money, relationships, etc. I'm also a very forgetful person, as my wife could surely tell you. I don't claim to be better than anyone else with regard to charitable acts, just so we're clear. This is just my way of reminding myself and others of these events and not to take anything for granted, as well as spreading the word in the best way I know how.
Thank you for reading this much and thank you in advance for helping the people of Tohoku get back to living their lives as the rest of us have enjoyed these past 12 months.