I woke up very early to some terrifying news. As I turned on the television at 5:00 in the morning, reports were just coming in regarding the 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan, and the incredibly powerful tsunami that had already washed away the shore. While most of us Americans slept soundly, peacefully, obliviously in our beds, thousands of others were enduring the kind of fear and devastation that I can barely imagine.
My first instinct was to panic. As some of you all know, I was supposed to be headed to Japan this week to visit my cousin Blake, who lives and works in Tokyo. Though I don’t worry much about Blake (he’s done his fair share of globetrotting and taking care of himself), the first natural tendency is to fret over the ones you love. I called my dad to see if he’d heard from my aunt Barbara, Blake’s mom, then hit the social networks. Fortunately, Blake was able to contact us through Facebook (thanks, Zuckerberg), letting us know that he was fine.
So, needless to say, I won’t be headed to Tokyo tomorrow. In fact, in light of the nuclear problems, Blake has already returned to the states for what he’s now calling a “surprise vacation.” Though I know his life has been interrupted (having to leave house and home, friends and work), we are glad he is safely here. My prayer is that the brave souls sacrificing their health and safety in Fukushima will be able to control the nuclear crisis, and that folks like Blake can return to living their day-to-day lives in that incredible country.
Of course the nuclear problem (a gigantic problem in its own right) is hampering the efforts on the coast, where thousands still remain missing, and where over a half million people have become homeless or displaced. People are still searching for loved ones, and the damage is apocalyptic.
- photos from NYtimes.com
It’s easy to feel helpless in moments like this, when the suffering seems so great in a part of the world so far away from our own. But I’ve accumulated a list of links that will direct you to organizations that are accepting donations or selling items with proceeds going toward the Japan relief efforts.
- The American Red Cross. You can donate at their website, or you can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to have $10 added to your cell phone bill.
- WorldVision. A Christian organization, WorldVision has locations in all areas of the world, and distributes live-saving supplies to victims of natural disasters. You can also donate on their website, or through Amazon.com.
- For all of you Lady Gaga fans, check out her online shop to purchase a “We Pray for Japan” little monsters wristband for a mere $5.
- I bought one of these beautiful limited edition art prints of Shinjuku for $20 at 20×200.com. Again, all proceeds go to Japan.
- Pre-order this cool t-shirt through the Salvation Army. You can also text “Japan” to 80888 to send $10 to the SA World Services Office.
- For today only (March 18), any money spent at Forever21.com goes toward relief efforts.
Let’s keep Japan in our hearts and minds, even when the media has forgotten. I’ve turned on the news this morning, and the stories are already slowing down in the way that the news is always looking for something bigger, scarier, and more scandalous to report. But Japan, you will always be the dream in my heart, the place where I sing Karaoke with Bill Murray, the place where old meets new, and where I eat my weight in sushi. Tokyo, we’ll meet some day—I promise!
Jocelyn (aka Charlotte)