Today, I went swimming and my imagination scared the wits out of me. I thought of the people run over by the tsunami (fittingly, we use the Japanese word here), and what it would have been like to be sucked into the water. That was scary enough, but then when I got out of the water, I thought of the families who are still alive, but have been without electricity, clean water, or anything else for four days now, in freezing temperatures. Not only are they devastated and in shock, but they are starving and dehydrated beyond what I want to imagine.
I took a warm shower, dried my hair, and went back to my child who was safe and happily playing with his friend. Fortunate to be in New York, even where there is snow still on the ground in March.
As some of you know, I grew up (partially) in Japan and have a strong connection with the people on the islands. None of my friends have been hurt, but one of my friends there now (Emi Yamada) works for the UN and used to work for an NGO called JEN, which provides aid in Japan and elsewhere. She said that her old HQ at JEN is scrambling around trying to find bottles of water, sanitary napkins, diapers, etc. to hand out to people but are having an awfully hard time finding anything available. Personally, I feel helpless. I want to help, but I don't have much to offer and don't have the funds to go over there and help in person. So I'm doing what I can by emailing you and hoping that at least one of you will be able to donate to JEN or the Red Cross or someone else who is helping out.
Here is a link to the donation site for JEN.
I know that here in Syracuse many people are sympathetic but still say, "Well, it's Japan. They can take care of themselves just fine. Look at how they bounced back after WWII and Kobe." It's true. They did bounce back. But they didn't do it alone. No island, no group of people, no matter their history or their religion, should have to overcome an earthquake, a tsunami, a volcanic eruption, and a pending nuclear meltdown by themselves. Japan is suffering.