No matter where you were on March 11, we will forever be changed. The images that remains fixed in our minds of floating houses and cars, faces of people struggling to make sense of things, and then the amazing movement of the collective human heart.
Whether the events in Tohoku changed us or woke-up our dormant willingness to serve, the evidence of this transformation abounds. People around the globe donated money, time, and supplies. Foreign women (and men) living in Japan were particularly moved. Some were inspired to hold charity events, others to start NPOs or change directions of their existing businesses, and enterprises, and some committed to continued weekend trips from outside of Tohoku to lend their muscles and their hearts.
Women like Stacy, who organised Glam and Glitz and Lenne, who put together Orphans and Heroes, were able to tap into the incredibly talented foreigners (and Japanese) living here in Japan. The names and efforts of those entertainers are too many to list here, but they know who they are. Entrepreneurial women like Dee and Tracy from 37 frames and Patricia from 5 planets used their art and resources to encourage people to keep giving and caring. And individual women like Lea and Kerri, who took time away from their work and families to make repeated trips at their own expense to Tohoku, establish relationships on a very personal level and share that with many who are unable to give at that level. Lea teaches crafts and plays games with the children of Ichinoseki, has touch so many of their lives and has become a part of their community. Kerri sent an email plea out to many women in Tokyo asking for help in supplying blankets and futons for a neglected town Otsuchi, Iwate, whose evacuees were in need of warmer bedding. She got an immediate response with some people sending money for her to purchase blankets and some people directly sending bedding to Iwate. Who says that one person cannot make a difference?
Tohoku, and its individual towns and problems are certainly not fixed and have a long way to a full recovery, whatever shape that will take. There has been much negative attention to what others (namely, the Japanese Government at it’s various levels) have not done. But what has been accomplished has come from hearts of NPOs, churches, social networks around the world, and individuals. For this we can be grateful.
But more important is what the people of Tohoku have given us. To them we say, “Thank you for changing us.”
Article published in Being a Broad.