2 years ago, the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plan failure changed the life of thousands of people in Tohoku.
It also changed my life.
But not right away. It wasn’t until 3 months after the disaster that I made my way up to Tohoku. I can still remember the very long car ride up there. I was worrying a little bit about my finances, as this trip was something I had not planned for, but I figured I would make up the money I spent by taking on some extra classes teaching English when I got back to Osaka.
But it never really worked out that way. I never made up that money, but I gained experiences which are, to me, infinitely more valuable.
If you have never been to the 被災地 (disaster zone), I promise you, you don’t understand how things are here. And having visited, you still won’t be able to understand what it’s like to live here. But even living here, I will never be able to fully understand what it was like to be here for the disaster.
It’s something I consider to be a sensitive subject. Not everyone does, and plenty of people are willing to tell you their experiences. But I’ve just never felt the need to ask. To be honest, I find it to be the very definition of morbid curiosity. To ask someone to relieve what was most likely the worst day of their life.
But I have had experiences shared with me. And quite honestly, it’s terrifying.
When I was watching TV back in Osaka looking at the tsunami, it didn’t really mean anything to me. I’m sure my brain could understand that it was terrible, but I couldn’t really relate to it.
But when someone tells you about the water rushing into their house, and they can point at the still visible line where the water settled? That’s truly horrific.
Today is, for many, a day of remembrance. Millions of people no doubt took a moment to think about the disaster of 2 years ago.But here in Ishinomaki, memorial ceremonies aside, it’s business as usual. People keep moving. And that’s the real point of this post.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all those people who not only took a moment, but took action.
A quick google brings up this definition of the word action
Action – The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim
You don’t have to have come to Tohoku and gotten muddy to be counted amongst those who acted. To those who spent fundraised, donated, raised awareness and in general did what they could despite being unable to come yourself, the difference you make is huge.
This is not specific to INJM. There are millions of you out there. People who took action.
I don’t know you. I won’t ever meet you. And I don’t know what you did. But still, I feel thankful. Because I have seen the results of actions like yours.
And I also know first hand how hard it can be to help people when you don’t have the support.
A few days ago, Choco’s car made a funny noise. I instantly recognized that noise as having something to do with her fan belt, which was most likely slipping. I know this because for what feels like the longest time, the biggest car INJM had to transport volunteers was a 4 seater kei car (red), which had the same problem. And this was when we had a lot of volunteers everyday. It was amazing when we finally saved up enough money to purchase an 8 seater, which was only possible because of the support from those people of action.
Of course, my point of view is that of a volunteer. The help we receive allows us to help others. It’s might be a bit different from that of someone who lived through the disaster, and received aid themselves.
But I feel it’s important to share it. Because we (volunteers) are the lucky ones. We are the ones who get thanked, we receive the heartfelt hugs, we get the wonderful memories that can only be made here.
But it’s only possible because of you.