Please visit our Page

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tokyo is ok - Japan not (yet)

This morning we experienced a small earthquake again nearby Tokyo (5.7 magnitude). It was only a very soft shaking in our office. Many colleagues only looked up shortly and then continued with their discussions or work.

Life in Tokyo and the metropolitan area of Tokyo is back to normal since a few weeks ago already. It was very surprising for me how fast the Japanese people went back to their normal life style.

Of course we had the fear of radiation in tap water and many bought water, or all necessary other items like bread, milk products, etc. But this situation is stable and completely back to normal now. I talked to my friend Oskari a few days ago and he mentioned “it is normal, but still you have this strange feeling that it is not the same as before”. I can agree to this, as we all know that the affected areas of the earthquake still need much more time for recovery and we also know that the nuclear power plant is not fully under control yet. Many people (including myself) have the opinion, that the nuclear situation is not getting worse or better, it needs much more time to be completely solved.
But what do you want to do? Worry the entire day? Leave?

There is no increased radiation level in Tokyo and nothing detected in the tap water anymore (source) – therefore we do what we can do best: continue with our life and help Japan and the entire world with it.

Kaori on her way to Tohoku to help
On Tuesday evening we met Kaori Doi, who is volunteering for the NGO日本ユニバ震災対策チーム” (NUC - Nihon Univa Counter Crisis Team). She was already active as a supporter in an evacuation center during the big Kobe Earthquake (16 years ago) and now she is engaged again, “but the situation is completely different”.

I personally have the feeling (like Stephan explained in his last blog entry) that many people do not fully understand the reality and underestimate the need of support. 

Kaori explained during our discussion that “the tsunami washed away many kilometers of houses and cities, where people lived. This area will be difficult to re-construct in a short time and therefore many people need to continue to live in the evacuation camps with very limited privacy and difficult circumstances. This will be much longer than 16 years ago (in Kobe, there was neither Tsunami nor Nuclear catastrophe).

Just imagine that you have to live in a gym or school with many other people for more than 2 months and you do not know how much longer…

There is a high emotional stress level in these evacuations camps now.

Kaori explained to us based on her experience in Kobe that during the first 2 weeks many people just want to survive and try to contact family members, etc. But then they start to live in the camps and you need more privacy. People “discover” behaviors on others (with whom they live together in the camp or even sleep next to them night by night) which are “annoying” to them. Therefore Kaori and other volunteers tried 16 years ago in Kobe to create separations. They organized mats for more comfort, etc.  All this is needed in order to calm people down and to let them “relax” a little bit.

I also read in some articles on the internet that NGOs started to give foot massages to these “refugees”, as these moments of relaxations are very important (especially if you still feel the aftershocks). It is important to work on the mental balance.

And all this will take much longer this time, because a tsunami hit and destroyed their houses and lands. The radiation problem is an additional problem which worsens the situation even more and makes it impossible for some people to come back to their houses (maybe ever).

Some people tell me sometimes in emails or discussion forums:
Japan is a rich country and we better donate & help countries in Africa or somewhere else

Well, yes. Japan is a rich country, but many people died and left sad people behind. Many people lost everything and cannot even return to the area where they spent their entire life. Many people are and will suffer from the mental stress and traumatic experiences for months. It is a long dragging process, but the willingness of help is decreasing.

In my opinion, Japan is in need for help. It is a different help. It is called (International) Solidarity and Caring. The longer the situation is continuing, the more of this kind of support is needed... especially for children!

(Pictures are taken from other Internet Pages: CTV, Kyodo News)

No comments:

Post a Comment