By Gunma and Tokyo Relief Teams, Japan (Originally in Japanese)
On August 30, 2016, the Tohoku Region of Iwate Prefecture, Japan was slammed by powerful Typhoon Lionrock, causing blackouts, property damage and widespread flooding that caught some towns by surprise. Unfortunately, 22 people lost their lives. Over 1,000 local citizens were temporarily isolated due to disrupted roads. In response to Supreme Master Ching Hai’s instruction to always help those in need, our Association members from Gunma and Tokyo rendered aid and offered comfort to the victims.
A couple of days after the typhoon, our Gunma Association members quickly gathered information on the disaster area, prepared needed supplies including vegetable juice, sandbags, rain boots, wet towelettes and vegan cookies. Our Gunma Center contributed JPY 320,032 (US$3,111) for the relief items.
We traveled to Iwaizumi Town in Japan’s Tohoku Region on September 2. Our team witnessed the widespread effects of the typhoon as we approached the town, with broken bridges and floating timbers blocking the way. We delivered the items to a distribution center where other trucks also dropped off their supplies. Many people came to pick up food and daily necessities, while local Self-Defense Forces vehicles started off to transport the supplies to those who were unable to pick them up. Seeing our Gunma relief team, a member of the working staff at the site was moved to tears. He bowed to our team and said thankfully, “We really appreciate that you came from such a long way to help us.”
A local public media staff conducted an interview with one of our members and asked, “What was in your mind when you came all the way from Gunma to the disaster area?” Our member replied, “The disaster is very serious. We can only help a little bit, but we hope to bring encouragement to the victims. That’s why we brought supplies here. We know the restoration work won’t be easy, and we hope the affected people can remain strong.”
On September 3, our Tokyo Center sent 15 boxes of relief goods to Iwaizumi Town, where 380 civilians were living at evacuation centers due to flooding. Among the goods sent by overnight mail were rain boots, disposable eating utensils and hygiene supplies for women, men, and babies. On September 8, a similar amount of supplies was shipped to another hard hit area of Minamifurano Town in Japan’s Hokkaido Region.
One Tokyo Association member went to local stores, packed the various goods into four boxes, wrote personal notes of encouragement, and brought them to a shipping company. Another member purchased her list of goods from e-market, which were delivered to the hands of those in need in a short time. In total, our Tokyo Center provided approximately US$2,500 worth of supplies to the two most-affected towns.
What makes this disaster different from others is the damage and loss of lives attributed to river flooding. Experts soon began to discuss whether the downpour of torrential rain in highly localized areas, not recorded in the past, is the effect of worldwide climate change. We pray that more citizens of Japan will turn to the compassionate vegan lifestyle to mitigate future calamities.
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association for Typhoon Lionrock Relief Work in Japan
|Supplies provided to Iwaizumi Town (portable toilet, dry shampoo, cleansing oil, long rain boots, kitchen utensils, candles and daily necessities) and shipping fee||173,872||A|
|Supplies provided to Minamifurano Town (blue tarpaulin sheets, ropes for packing, water strainer for cooking, rubber gloves, rain suits and long rain boots, etc.) and shipping fee||78,130||B|
|Food (vegetable juice and vegan cookies) and supplies (sandbags, rain boots and wet towelettes)||320,032||C|
|Total|| JPY 572,034