Tag Archives: Op-Ed

Jason Kelly – Socks For Japan

How Citizens Can Help Survivors
by Jason Kelly

jason_kelly_gray_200On March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes ever to hit Japan sent a tsunami deep into cities and towns along the coast of Tohoku, the northeastern region of Honshu, the country’s largest island. The wave killed 16,000 people and destroyed or damaged more than a million buildings.

I’m an American living an hour north of Tokyo in a city called Sano, and that quake is still in my bones. It sounded like wind approaching underground. The power went out and none of us knew until the next day the devastation that lay farther north. When we saw it on the news and recognized places we’d been, we had to help.

Helping after a natural disaster is not easy, however. Most relief organizations advise staying out of the way and just donating money. Those who’ve been in disaster zones around the world tell stories of people dumping piles of unsorted junk that nobody wants to pick through. Kindhearted supporters helping the wrong way like this make the situation worse, not better. Yet, there is a way for citizens to help directly by bringing gifts beyond the life support provided by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Small groups of volunteers can comfort survivors personally and give them hope.