Japan one year after the tsunami
On March 11, 2011, a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit the eastern coast of Japan’s Tohoku region. This created an extremely destructive tsunami which hit Japan just minutes after the earthquake. The tsunami reached heights of up to 133 feet, destroying houses, roads and utilities. More than 25,000 people died or were reported missing.
Medical Teams International partnered with a local agency, Christian Relief Assistance Support + Hope (CRASH Japan). This organization is endorsed by the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association and works in close collaboration with the Disaster Relief Commission of the Japan Evangelical Association.
Message from the President
Shortly after the March 11 earthquake, I traveled to Japan to help our local partner organize a massive volunteer response effort in the areas affected by the disaster.
The destruction caused by the tsunami was beyond description. Nuclear fall-out was a huge threat. Every day, the ground shook with aftershocks.
We didn’t need to send medical volunteers because Japan is a developed country. But, we did deploy experienced disaster response specialists to help our partner organize its work. We also provided resources to set up field offices needed to distribute emergency supplies. And, we supported 17 long-term volunteers who worked in the disaster area for months.
Your support of these efforts enabled thousands of volunteers from throughout Japan to serve in the disaster area. Coming from churches all over the country, these volunteers did whatever was needed. They truly demonstrated the love of Christ to those who had lost everything.
The work in Japan is not over. We continue to help our partner in its efforts to rebuild communities and to care for those affected by trauma and loss.
God has truly used your support to bring hope, encouragement and new life to many. We could not have done this work without your help.
Thank you for your generosity and your compassion.
With your support, we have been able to raise nearly $680,000 to help tsunami survivors in Japan. We have provided and are currently supporting CRASH Japan with:
- Cash resources to establish a program presence and respond to immediate needs in five key areas affected by the disaster.
- Seventeen long-term volunteers to staff key leadership positions in planning, management and implementation.
- Two teams of volunteer Incident Command System specialists to provide assistance with efficient operations.
Support we provided to CRASH Japan enabled it to care for thousands of people affected by this terrible disaster in the following ways:
- Distributed more than $326,300 in food, water and other types of emergency assistance to thousands of people.
- Sent more than 2,000 local Japanese volunteers to the disaster area to address physical needs by cleaning up and rebuilding houses, planting crops, distributing supplies, providing emotional support to those affected by trauma and caring for those not served by the formal relief response structure.
- Served meals to hundreds of survivors through mobile cafes and restaurants.
- Assisted local community-based response efforts by providing resources, volunteer assistance and supplies.
From relief to recovery
In the past months, CRASH Japan has transitioned from relief to recovery with a special focus on survivor care. As depression and suicides have become the greatest threats to life in the disaster area, CRASH Japan is helping survivors by:
- Sending volunteers to the Tono, Ichinoseki, Sendai, Nasu and Hitachi prefectures to support those suffering from depression.
- Integrating survivor care into all of its ongoing program activities.
- Building partnerships with local churches and ministries to develop sustainable programs for local communities.
Recent photos are presented in CRASH Japan's 3.11 Anniversary Slideshow and video.
"Fear not, for I am with you." A volunteer's story
While most survivors have moved into temporary housing villages or “kasetsu” that provide basic living conditions, many are left isolated. Volunteers knocking on doors and setting up community spaces like Mobile Cafes are providing an invaluable service simply by talking to people. A Japanese volunteer from CRASH Japan Tono Base shares how God used her to comfort and bring hope to one young girl.
We went early to the kasetsu in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, to help set up Mobile Café. I walked around the temporary housing with a friend of mine to pray for the day’s ministry. I found a bench nearby, sat down and continued to pray.
As I was walking, I met a 5th grade girl named Rio. I started talking to her. She slowly began sharing her story. Rio told me that her mother was still missing from the tsunami. She didn’t reunite with her father until days after the disaster, and her grandparents didn’t survive. Rio’s father found her alone at an evacuation center, but before her father found her, she had gone to the morgue and searched through the dead bodies for a familiar face.
My heart broke as I imagined a little 5th grade girl going around the morgue, looking through hundreds of dead bodies to see if any of them were her family members. I was at a loss for words. I prayed to God, and asked Him to give me the right words.
I spoke softly to her about how God protected her and her father from the tsunami, and what a blessing it is that they are able to live in the temporary housing together. I wouldn’t have had an answer to give to her had she asked, “Why didn’t God save my mother?” Rio listened to me intently as I told her about the God of this universe. I assured Rio that God loves her very much and that He created her.
Rio told me that there were aftershocks almost daily, which scared her each time. So I opened the Bible and read Isaiah 41:10 with her: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I told her to pray whenever she is afraid, for God will protect her.