Like many others who have friends and families in Japan, I have been shocked and saddened by the recent disaster in Japan. It is heartbreaking to know that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the northeastern Japan, who used to live normal life like everyone else, and suddenly lost everything, including homes, jobs and loved ones, in the matter of minutes.
The photo below shows a part of Iwate, before the earthquake and tsunami hit. Doesn't it look so peaceful and beautiful? This photo from a fishing guidebook was sent to me by my friend Jack Sanders, who conducts tours to rural Japan. He had spent time touring in the affected area before the disaster, and he is now trying to reach out to some local TV stations to inform people about what he knows. From the photo, you can see how close to the ocean people lived. Now most of these little fishing villages are wiped out by the tsunami. A terrible tragedy.
Right after the disaster, I received a lot of calls and e-mails from friends in the U.S., asking if my family in Japan is OK. Luckily, my hometown is further down south and far from the affected area. Three days after the disaster, my husband and I were, in fact, supposed to fly to Japan to attend my sister's wedding. But because of the nuclear radiation scares, we had to cancel our trip (Thank you very little to CNN, for reporting the news over-dramatically). I never thought I would have to miss my sister's wedding.
I was very bummed, but what I had to experience is nothing compared to people who were directly affected. I want to do everything I can to help the people in need. Besides making a donation, I thought what I could do is to spread the word out. I believe that watching the news doesn't always make you feel that it's really happening, especially for children, who are so used to seeing what's not real on TV these days. I visited every elementary classroom of my school, with a permission from each classroom teacher, and I made a presentation on Japan. I hope that a personal connection, through me, helped children understand what's really going on.
After the spring break, I plan to help the children at my school with a fundraiser for Japan. How will we raise the fund? By folding paper cranes! An organization called Students Rebuild will get $2 per crane from Bezos Family Foundation to help rebuild in Japan. Read here for more details. I actually already have 1,000 paper cranes that are created by the children at my camp job last summer, which I planned to take to Hiroshima Peace Memorial this month. But since our trip to Japan was canceled, and I heard about this fundraiser, my camp director and I decided to send the cranes to Students Rebuild instead. I'm sure our children will be happy to find out that our cranes are going to another good cause. We can raise $2,000 for Japan by sending these cranes!
Last night my husband and I went to a benefit concert for Japan at PSU. A couple of taiko groups as well as a few music and dance groups performed. The concert hall was packed, and I felt people's outpouring love for Japan. I've been feeling like I had a big cloud over my head ever since March 11, but I finally saw a crack of light through it.
Hang in there, people in the northeastern Japan! We are all trying to reach out and help! Don't lose hope!
Please consider making a donation, if you haven't yet. You can donate to Mercy Corps, Japanese Red Cross, or Save the Children.