Day 647: Helping hands in Japan

After the catastrophic tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, like many of you, I made a donation to the relief effort but being on the other side of the globe, I still felt relatively helpless. So when I came across these stories of how individual Japanese people came to each other’s aid during the crisis, I felt moved and hopeful … for all of us. Hope you do too!

Human spirit rises to meet Japan’s Tsunami
Excerpted from Charity Focus Blog HERE

Amidst the tragedy of the quake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear plant explosions, the narrative of hope can often get lost. However, below is a note from our friend in Japan, Yuka Saionji, followed by some truly heart warming moments of oneness that unfolded in the aftermath.

Dear Friends,
Thank you so so much for all your love, support and messages.  We experienced a big earth quake here in Tokyo too, but nothing compared to the northern parts of Japan.  I couldn’t keep standing cause it was so big, and all I could do was just open the doors to secure our way out.

All transportation stopped.

In many places electricity stopped, many things came down, buildings and roads broke too in Tokyo. But there was not any huge damage. Many people were stuck near their work places or forced to walk back home last night. Nothing moved. But even so, there was no confusion or panic. No one was screaming, every one was taking turns and was in line. No pushing or stealing or anything…. Many stores or restaurants offered people to stay, and people are here to support each other. We still have small earth quakes continuing in Tokyo but not a big problem.

During this time, I felt so lucky and full of gratitude … that we know our prayers, our meditation, our love, our truth [is] about oneness. During the big quake, all I was able to do was give gratitude to nature and to dear earth. There was no fear. But just feeling of oneness in whatever happens.

Our organization includes over 20,000 people around Japan and we are working hard to contact everyone. But we know … that no matter where they are they are in peace, sending love and prayers to people around them…. It makes me cry watching the news what’s happening around in all over Japan … but knowing that is my hope and strength….

Right now our biggest concern is the nuclear energy. And to make that stable.   In the Northern part of Japan, a whole town vanished because of the flood. But we have to still be careful of more earth quake and flood. But in any case, I wanted to say thank you and we are fine.

And I feel, all Japanese people are working together strong to go through this.  We feel all prayers and energies. Thank you.

May peace prevail on earth.
Lots of love,
P.S.  Below are the some of the heart warming anecdotes that I’ve witnessed and heard from others …

Photo: Yamiuri/Reuters

Last night when I was walking home (since all traffic had stopped), I saw an old lady at a bakery shop.  It was totally past their closing time, but she was giving out free bread.  Even at times like this, people were trying to find what they can do and it made my heart warm.

In the supermarket, where items of all the shelves fell, people were picking up things so neatly together, and then quietly stand in line to buy food. Instead of creating panic and buying as much as needed, they bought as little as they needed.  I was proud to be a Japanese.

When I was walking home, for 4 hours, there was a lady holding a sign that said, “Please use our toilet.”  They were opening their house for people to go to the restroom. It was hard not to tear up, when I saw the warmth of people.

My co-worker wanted to help somehow, even if it was just to one person.  So he wrote a sign: “If you’re okay with motor cycle, I will drive you to your house.”  He stood in the cold with that sign. And then I saw him take one gentleman home, all the way to Tokorozawa!  I was so moved. I felt like I wanted to help others too.

A high school boy was saved because he climbed up on top of the roof of a department store during the flood. The flood came so suddenly, that he just saw people below him, trying to frantically climb up the roof and being taken by the flood.  To help others, he kept filming them so their loved ones could see.  He still hasn’t been able to reach his own parents but he says, “Its nobody’s fault. There is no one to blame. We have to stay strong.”

There is a lack of gas now and many gasoline stations are either closed or haave very loooong lines. I got worried, since I was behind 15 cars. Finally, when it was my turn, the man smiled and said, “Because of this situation, we are only giving $30 worth gas per each person. Is that alright?”  “Of course its alright.  I’m just glad that we are all able to share,” I said.  His smile gave me so much relief.

I saw a little boy thanking a public transit employee, saying, “Thank you so much for trying hard to run the train last night.”  It brought tears to the employee’s eyes, and mine.

A foreign friend told me that she was shocked to see a long queue form so neatly behind one public phone. Everyone waited so patiently to use the phone even though everyone must have been so eager to call their families.

When I was waiting at the platform, so tired and exhausted, a homeless person came to us and gave us a cardboard to sit on.  Even though we usually ignore them in our daily life, they were ready to serve us.

Suntory (a juice company) is giving out free drinks, phone companies are  creating more wi-fi spots, 1,000,000 noodles were given by a food company, and everyone is trying to help the best way they can.  We, too, have to stand up and do our best.

Whenever there is a black out, people are working hard to fix it. Whenever the water stops, there are people working to fix that too.  And when there is problem with nuclear energy, there are people trying to fix that too. It doesn’t just fix itself.  While we are waiting to regain the heat in the cool temperature or have running water, there were people risking their life to fix it for us.

When I grow older, I am going to tell my children and grandchildren, “When your grandma was young, there was a big earth quake in Japan which brought the world to one. And everyone worked so hard to help support each other and everyone was shining.  To be able to tell that story, I’m going to work hard in rebuilding that work.

In Korea, a Japanese man got a cab ride and when it was time to pay, the driver refused and said: “You are Japanese, yes?”  Yes.  “When you go back to Japan, please donate the fee.” Beyond nationality or politics, we are all the same.

My 10-year-old son, with tears in his eyes, handed his piggy bank to me, saying: “I don’t care if I cant buy my comic books, I want to save japan!!”

I told my parents, who are living at the evacuation center, to come to Chiba where I live. And they got mad at me. My Dad said, “There are people who sustained far more damage than us, and they are not leaving. We certainly can’t leave!  I will come to your place when we finish reconstruction here. So you do what you can from where you are.”

I saw a man at the evacuation center crying when people brought food to him. It was the first time in 3 days that the food was brought to their center. But his next words surprised me. “I am very grateful that we are provided with food. But, but, the city next to us they are not receiving any food at all. Please go to that center as well.”

An old man at the evacuation shelter said, “What’s going to happen now?”  And then a young high school boy sitting next to him said, “Don’t worry!  When we grow up, we will promise to fix it back!”  While saying this, he was rubbing the old man’s back. And when I was listening to that conversation, I felt hope. There is a bright future, on the other side of this crisis.

P.S. Here’s a video that captures the terrifying speed of this tsunami.

P.P.S. Top photo from HERE. Next photo from HERE. Video from HERE.


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