This year saw the 8th Anniversary of the 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami. It provided an opportunity to pause and reflect on the losses that the country had faced, but also the optimism of building for the future.
On 11th March 2011, a disaster unlike any seen in modern times swept across Japan, claiming almost 20,000 lives and creating over 300,000 refugees in the Tohoku region. Among these were 236 children who lost everything – their homes and their family all in one day.
This year, Aid For Japan staged an event at Islington Yoga School. Here, an audience of people keen to lend support to the victims of the tragedy, learned a little bit about the impact that this devastating event had on people’s lives.
A series of short films were screened, one of which focussed on Maria, one of the Japanese orphans that Aid For Japan has supported over the years. Although things have been difficult for Maria, she is now 18 years old, strong and doing well for herself.
One of these video screenings was set in a school with a teacher recounting his own story about the tragic events of 2011. Yukio Saito is headmaster of Ishinomaki Nishi High School. Ishinomaki town was severely damaged by the tsunami in the disaster. Saito Sensei has written about the experiences of those at the school during and after the disaster.
As the school buildings were on higher ground, many local people took shelter there and the school gymnasium became a mortuary that eventually held more than 700 bodies. The title of his book Ikasarete Ikiru (lit. ‘Allowed to live so Live’) describes the mission of those who survived – both children and adults.
Food and refreshments were available for attendees and Aid For Japan also used the event as a fundraising drive. As a result, the generous donations from attendees raised over £600.
Attendees walked away from the event with a stronger impression of the impact that the events of 2011 had delivered. Even 8 years on, the effect of the earthquake/tsunami still has a profound impact on those that survived the devastation, particularly the orphans who had lost everything – the same orphans that Aid For Japan is doing its best to lend assistance to.
Aid For Japan thanks all those that helped make this event possible: The staff at Islington Yoga School, Yukio Saito and Japan Centre.
Aid For Japan also extends its warmest thanks to all the volunteers and helpers who kindly donate their time to the charity. Special thanks to Angela Shaffer.