Saturday, March 19, 2011

What does the New Dawn in the Land of the Rising Sun Bring?

Praying for Friends in Japan

By Kevin Stoda

Since the Great Sendai Earthquake, I have been praying about and concerned with my friends all over Japan. I recall many of the teachers whom I taught with in Japan: Mizukuki, Tsunada, Yagi, Ishikawa, Takahashi, ….

I pray they are all right.

Even though, it is a strain to look on from afar at the devastation, we hope that help arrives soon. (Here are a few suggestions for would-be donors to aid the Japanese:
“Whom to Contact to Assist Japan” .)

I was struck by the following story from an article entitled, “With Aid slow to Come, Japanese fend for Themselves” from the Associated Press that I came across this morning. Most of the interviews in the story come from a school—a Karakuwa junior high school—that has become a shelter in the earthquake- and tsunami-stricken region.

As you know, I have taught in Japanese schools before and continue to teach in Taiwanese schools currently—including Chung Shan Junior High School that is on high ground above a seaside village.

As noted above, the community of Karakuwa, Japan has a junior high school that is currently humming with activity in the wake of the massive earthquake off of the northeast coast of Honshu earlier in the month. Here are vignettes from the article from the AP:

--“ No water for the toilets? No problem. Students in Karakuwa bring buckets of water from the school swimming pool to give survivors the dignity of a proper flush. In the kitchen, a giant rice cooker given to the school by a resident sits on a table, steam rising from the heaping mounds of rice inside.”
-- “At the school in Karakuwa, 43-year-old Emi Yoshida reads a book, still wearing the same clothes she had on the day the tsunami roared into town. She has not showered in a week and longs for a bed. Still, she is grateful for the comfort the community has provided her and her two sons.
--“Nearby, 62-year-old Yoko Komatsu and her 88-year-old father-in-law Tetsuo Komatsu sit in a patch of sunlight streaming in through the giant classroom windows, warming themselves next to an oil-powered heater.”
--“ In the kitchen, teachers, mothers of students and the newly homeless whip up three meals and two snacks a day.
--“The women mix together squid, shrimp and stir-fried vegetables in large pots, turning it into a nourishing stew that they ladle onto bowls of rice. They're delivered with slices of apples throughout the building.”
--“In the middle of one classroom, a group of boys plunk themselves in seats around a table, the bowls of stew sending plumes of steam into the air. In unison, they bow their heads.’Thank you,’ they say. ‘For everything.’ Then, their chilled hands armed with chopsticks, they gobble their dinner down.”

Dear School Friends and Citizens of Japan, we want the best for you and pray that we can get you what is needed soon. We are glad that some of you have shelters, like at the Karakuwa junior high school. We hope that all of you get assistance.
In the meantime, “Ganbatte”. Keep it up.--Kevin
Many have risen to the occasion.
"For a long time, in the countryside, even if you didn't have enough for yourself, you shared with others," said Noriko Sasaki, 63, as she sat on the ground outside [at] another relief center in the town. "That is our culture. Even if they're not relatives, we feel as if they're sisters or brothers."
Regain and Hold that Spirit of Brother- and Sister-hood, my Japanese friends!



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