Caritas/Japan 2011

By Fr Daisuke Narui, Executive Director of Caritas Japan

Today we visited Sendai City to discuss the Caritas response to the massive earthquake and tsunami. The city was very calm and there was no sense of panic despite every that has happened and the uncertainty that has taken over people’s lives.

People were in orderly queues to collect petrol and food. At least in Sendai City the buildings have remained standing. I couldn’t even find a collapsed one.

The story on the coast is very different. The tsunami which washed in and caused so much destruction and the loss of so many lives has left everything smelling and covered in mud. There are long walls of wrecked cars and destroyed houses. Towns and villages have been flattened and destroyed and life has been stopped in its tracks.

It’s snowing today in Sendai and it’s very cold. There are many evacuees from areas near the nuclear plants. Parishes in Yamagata Prefecture and Saitama Diocese are providing shelter. Caritas Japan will supply blankets and cater to other needs. In some shelters that I’ve seen, evacuees share just one blanket among three people.

We’re in Sendai to meet with Bishop Hiraga of Sendai Diocese and Bishop Tani of Saitama Diocese plus others. We’ve discussed how to best use donations for Caritas activities and to establish a task force to support the disaster victims. So many people have offered donations and solidarity from all over the world.

As the aftershocks keep coming and the snow continues to fall, we will do our best to make sure this solidarity helps as many people as possible.