By Caritas Japan staff
Caritas Japan staff members and volunteers have been providing food and other aid to 10,000 survivors following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake was largest to have hit Japan on record and the tsunami caused destruction as far as 10 km inland. The quake caused a serious accident and a 20 km evacuation zone at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The overall cost could exceed $300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster ever.
In some areas, the transitional shelters had been ready and some families have already moved in, but many of the affected are still living in evacuation facilities.They are provided enough food, but are suffering from big stress under this abnormal lifestyle.
The food from Caritas includes ready-to-eat meals, noodles and vegetables, while the other relief items include hygiene kits, clothing and school kits in both the tsunami and the nuclear affected areas. Caritas Japan has been receiving volunteers from all over Japan, who help clean up rubbles in tsunami-affected areas. We have received over 600 volunteers in 4 volunteer bases (Sendai, Shiogama, Ishinomaki and Kamaishi in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures) so far. At one shelter (the evacuation facility is a gymnasium of a public secondary school), our volunteers are conducting a ‘hot water service project’, which have makes it possible for those evacuated to drink hot coffee and tea, make hot instant soup and noodles and also clean themselves up. Some surrounding parishes in Niigata and Saitama dioceses provide shelter and food to the evacuees, and also serve hot meals to the affected people.
Our ideas now are to start providing trauma care services at evacuation facilities and transitional shelters, and to help restore small communities, like fishing communities in the coastal areas. Easter and Our Christ’s Resurrection meant much to us all this year as we joined together and prayed in solidarity for recovery.