| Apr 15, 2011
The Japanese people don’t find it easy to talk about trauma. But, it’s a huge problem for people living in the disaster zone. Aftershocks continue on a daily basis. The nuclear threat is not going away. It will take years to recover from the destruction caused by the tsunami.
On a Saturday morning at the CRASH office in Tokyo, I sat in on a briefing for a volunteer team headed for the disaster zone. Using the acronym S.A.F.E.R., the person leading the briefing shared the following thoughts about how volunteers could respond to trauma among those they served:
S—Stabilize. Let people know that they are safe. If they are not, get them to a place where they can be safe.
A—Acknowledge. Let people know that their feelings are understandable, given what has happened to them.
F—Facilitate. Help people get back on the road to recovery by listening to their stories and affirming their thoughts about moving forward.
E—Encourage. Help people know that they are not alone. That others care for them. That you care for them.
R—Referral. Refer the small percentage of people who are unable to overcome the trauma of their experience to local pastors or other community leaders for more extended help and support.
The government in Japan is going to do much of the work of rebuilding the physical structures that are needed to restore communities. But, it’s the church that is well-positioned to care for the hearts of those who have suffered so much as a result of these disasters.
In the days ahead, CRASH will train hundreds of volunteers in ways to connect with the hearts of those they serve. We plan to support them in this effort, which I believe will bring healing and hope to thousands of people in the disaster zone in the months ahead.