Japanese Respond to Disaster With Quiet Determination

Awander Andrew Wander, Save the Children Media Manager

Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The aftershocks come so often in Tokyo that no-one at Save the Children's office pays them much attention anymore. They usually start with an alarm on the television, giving a few seconds warning before the floor begins to judder, sometimes building in strength, sometimes fading away to stillness. It feels a bit like being on a boat, only on the fourth floor of an office block in the middle of a city.

If it's a particularly strong tremor, there might be some nervous smiles exchanged- we all know that another powerful quake remains a very real possibility. But there is urgent work to be done, and the atmosphere of quiet focus returns as soon as the ground stills beneath our feet.

It's the same with concerns over the nuclear reactor to the north of here. We all know there is a chance that the situation will deteriorate and radiation levels will rise. There's scant reassurance to be drawn from the apocalyptic headlines in the international media, and the team are working with one eye on the latest radiation readings announced on the rolling news coverage.

But short of making contingency plans, there's not much we can do about it. For now, levels of radiation are safe in the places we're working, and unless they rise, there is no reason for us to change what we're doing. In the meantime, a lot is getting done. As part of a team of international staff here in Tokyo, I'm watching the quiet determination of the dozens of Japanese staff members turn into results in the field.

Since the quake struck on Friday, Save the Children has made serious progress in our response. Our first child friendly space opened in Sendai on Wednesday, and the team there are looking to scale up their operations as soon as possible.

More spaces should be opening in evacuation centres across the affected area in the next few days, making a big difference to some of the 100,000 children caught up in this emergency.

That couldn't happen without our staff in Tokyo working around the clock to support our teams in the field, purchasing supplies, planning logistics, producing communications material and working with the media. The challenge is enormous, but the people here are meeting it.

We knew as soon as we saw the pictures coming out of Japan last Friday that this would not be simple. Events over the past few days have proven us right. But there is no doubt we are making progress, despite the constant growls of the earth and the ever-present spectre of the radiation.

There is a sense that our Japanese staff are drawing inspiration from each other's commitment, and in so doing, are helping their country take the first tentative steps towards recovery from one of the greatest disasters in its long, proud history.

_______________________

Learn more about our recovery response to the earthquake in Japan.

Help Us Respond to the Japan Earthquake Recovery. Please Donate Now.

 

65 comments

  1. I live in England but my x wife has children in tokyo. If there is anything i can do to help ie bring supplies from england can bring small items. I have 10/12 slots i can come. i would only need floor to stay i can bring my tent. anybody i can help i will do my best.

  2. Wondering how to help children from Japan who are exposed to Radiation. Back when Chernobyl happened we had a neighbour sponsor two children for a year and brought them here to Canada to get them away from the exposure to radiation. Is there something in place now to do this for Japanese children. I don’t have much money to donate but I can donate my time and a roof, meals, and an environment with no radiation for however long it takes to fix the problem.

  3. I can house a family here or children.

  4. Hi every one.
    This is Majid, I am associate one of Japanese university as faculty member, well I been ishinomaki and tohoku area two times, two weeks then two weeks, as volunteer,
    No w I am again going ishimomaki from 4th July till 20th July, if you know some one I will be happy to visit them, I have stuff with me, which I will distribute to them,
    If you know any deserving kids, or family please contact to me, my no is 0081-80-5192-8293 while my email address is majid1718@hotmail.com
    Please pray for japan,
    Majid Wadood

  5. How many aftershocks you have experienced? It is first time here in my place where I am residing, terrible! It gave me so much headache.

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  22. Japanese Respond to Disaster With Quiet Determination – Save the Children Voices from the Field

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