Let’s send another tidal wave to the shores of Japan, stronger and mightier than the one that wreaked havoc to the country. Let this be a tidal wave of support and prayers that will help them overcome the tragedy that has befallen them, and rebuild the lives and dreams of their nation. Let this new wave become a source of strength, a blanket of comfort, a warm embrace.

This is our candle for Japan. We are one world.

You all know what happened: Japan suffered an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, Friday afternoon, March 11. 30 minutes after, coastlines in Iwate & Miyake (Northeastern Japan) were hit by waves said to be 10 meters high. The tsunami sent surging into land a muddy torrent of water, sweeping away everything in its path, carrying cars and wrecked homes at high speed across cities and villages, as far as farmlands in Sendai, up to 300 km (180 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Post-quake & Tsunami

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Daybreak revealed the disaster’s aftermath – destroyed homes, buildings and infrastructure of incalculable proportions. The official death toll is now at 2,400, not including those who are still missing and unaccounted for. Hundreds of thousands are in despair – homeless and helpless.

Six days after, cries of “Help!” and “Food!” can be heard from people trapped under the rubble, and many still marooned on building rooftops, hospitals and schools, are waiting for rescue and food supplies. As rescue and relief operations are underway, the Japanese government, at the same time, is racing to prevent a nuclear meltdown that undoubtedly, will be of catastrophic proportions.

As of this writing, Japan’s nuclear crisis deepened dramatically, as Prime Minister Naoto Kan went on national television to make a statement informing the public that radiation has spread from four reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, and urged anyone within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the plant to stay indoors or risk getting radiation sickness.

Aid Pours In

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The United Nations said in a statement: “Rescue and relief operations are being hampered by continuous aftershocks, tsunami alerts and fires. Many areas along the northeast coast remain isolated and unreachable…we can all see the scale of the devastation.”

Although the medical situation seemed under control in most parts of the quake epicenter, there is still no electricity and water supply. People need food, blankets and water.
Up to 70 nations have now pledged and sent their support to Japan, in various forms:

  • Australia, China & the United States deployed rescue teams, including workers and dogs, to help local rescuers seek for survivors
  • Britain sent fire brigade search and rescue specialists and equipment including heavy lifting and cutting equipment.
  • Australia & Pakistan offered self-contained field hospitals and disaster victim identification teams.
  • United States and Sri Lank sent military relief teams with medical assistance.
  • North Korea and Russia offered their atomic physicists and engineers to help address the nuclear crisis.
  • A dozen countries sent medical personnel, doctors & nurses to supplement Japan’s medical manpower.
  • Taiwan was asked by Japan to send material aid such as generators and other heavy equipment.
  • India is preparing to send planeloads of woolen blankets to affected areas.
  • Many countries are sending in clothing, food and water.

Even the poor southern Afghan city of Kandahar announced it was donating $50,000 to the “brothers and sisters” of Japan. “I know $50,000 is not a lot of money for a country like Japan, but it is a show of appreciation from the Kandahar people,” city Mayor Ghulam Haidar Hamidi told Reuters.

Japan has always been generous to countries in need of aid, may it be for modernization, government projects, or even disaster relief. Today, it’s their turn to be on the receiving end. For New Zealand, it’s “the least they can do” to give back to Japan who was among the nations to send help some weeks back.

New Zealand, still recovering from the disastrous earthquake that hit Christchurch, is sending a third of their rescue team to help in the Japan operations. With the Christchurch operation now in recovery rather than rescue mode, its Mayor, Bob Parker said no lives would be put at risk in Christchurch but the move “may save lives in Japan” “They’re just people looking for help everywhere, we need to be there too,” said Parker.

Praying for Miracles

Search and rescue teams in the hardest hit areas are so far finding very few survivors. The death tally at 2,400 is feared to eventually be higher than 10,000, as thousands of bodies are now being discovered on remote beaches. In the days since the earthquake, Japan has experience an additional 403 aftershocks – 32 of them with magnitudes higher than 6.0.

The world waits and watches, and prays for bits of good news and small miracles. Such as the story of the 60 year old man who was rescued 9 miles off the coast of Japan, 2 days after the quake. And the 70 year old woman found alive after 4 days, suffering from hypothermia in her tsunami-ruined home. Hearing their stories bring tears to our eyes, as we imagine the ordeal they went through, and yet, however little, it gives us a sense of hopefulness, that perhaps, there will be many more stories of miracles to hear of when this is all over.

How can we help

In our own personal capacities, we can that “little thing” to send our solidarity to our Japanese brothers and sisters. Here are some ways to do so, without having to fly out to Japan:

  1. Text to donate – Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone or visit Redcross.org. As of 4pm Sunday, Red Cross has raised close to $8M for Japan.
  2. Donate via Facebook – also through Red Cross, by logging in to Facebook and the Causes campaign, you can donate anywhere from $10 to $500 to help Tsunami victims & their families. As of yesterday, the campaign has raised over $40,000 from over 1,000 donors and 3,000 promoters.
  3. Buy Virtual Goods – Buy sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille or kobe cows in FrontierVille and 100% of the proceeds from the purchase will go to Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Emergency Fund. This is by Zynga, the world’s largest social gaming company also known for its effective social good campaigns. They aim to raise $2 Million for relief efforts.
  4. Embed a Code – For those who run their own blogs or websites, you can sign up with the invite code “helpjapan”, get the code snippet to embed a customized Hello Bar with a simple message to drive donations for Japan.
  5. Like a Facebook Page – For every “Like” of the “Dog Bless You” Facebook page, Explore.org will be donating $1 up to $100,000 to the Japan assistance fund.
  6. Tweet to Help – Earlier this morning, Twitter published a blog post detailing ways you can help with the relief efforts. Not only have they updated Japan’s mobile website with the latest information on the disaster, but they have also published a list of hashtags to tweet and/or follow related to the crisis. Some key hash tags to remember:
    • #Jishin: focuses around general earthquake information
    • #Anpi: a hashtag for the confirmation of the safety of individuals or places
    • #Hinan: Evacuation information
    • #311care: a hashtag regarding medical information for the victims
    • #PrayforJapan: A general hashtag for support and best wishes for victims of the crisis.
  7. Donate via iTunes – Apple is also dedicating resources to the crisis in Japan. They have created a simple donation page in iTunes [iTunes link] that makes it simple to donate anywhere from $5 to $200 to the Red Cross with just a few clicks.

Other sites you can log on to for donations:

  • GLOBALGIVING: Established a fund to disburse donations to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami.
  • SAVE THE CHILDREN: Mobilizing to provide immediate humanitarian relief in the shape of emergency health care and provision of non-food items and shelter. Donate here.
  • SALVATION ARMY: The Salvation Army has been in Japan since 1895 and is currently providing emergency assistance to those in need. Donate here.
  • AMERICARES: Emergency team is on full alert, mobilizing resources and dispatching an emergency response manager to the region. Donate here.
  • CONVOY OF HOPE: Disaster Response team established connection with in-country partners who have been impacted by the damage and are identifying the needs and areas where Convoy of Hope may be of the greatest assistance. Donate here.
  • INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS: Putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities. Donate here.
  • SHELTER BOX: The first team is mobilizing to head to Japan and begin the response effort.

God bless Japan,

Pepper

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