Japan – A Year of Recovery
By David Tereshchuk*
March 5, 2011 — For much of the world, Japan’s triple disasters lie in the past. After all, an entire year has elapsed since the March 11, 2011, earthquake triggered a massive tsunami and a horrifying nuclear crisis.
But not for United Methodists. For them, it’s remained a priority to support the Japanese people’s recovery from last year’s physical devastation and its grim upheaval in human lives.
The past twelve months have brought many practical improvements, charting the powerful effect of United Methodists’ contributions. Working with local partners like JEDRO (Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response) and the ecumenical Asian Rural Institute, UMCOR has been helping to hasten Japan’s physical and psychosocial recovery.
For instance, local communities have been provided with their own Geiger counters to monitor radioactive contamination in the wake of the nuclear energy industry’s catastrophic damage – all part of a vital drive to redress the triple disaster’s impact on health and on the environment.
It’s been especially important to counter widespread soil, water, and crop contamination, so ensuring greater safety for today’s and tomorrow’s generations. There’s been support, too, for the growing nationwide advocacy that is urging a safer and more responsible nuclear industry.
UMCOR’ head of International Disaster Response, Melissa Crutchfield, says UMCOR has developed a “holistic approach” to relief which “helps to rebuild a sense of community after major loss of life and people’s displacement from their homes …, reconstructs and strengthens their livelihoods (like fishing and farming) which were threatened …, and develops real protection for people and their loved ones from future harm.”
According to the Japan Center for International Exchange, UMCOR turns out to have ranked seventh among all United States charities in raising funds for Japanese relief, a welcome example of how United Methodists and other people of good will can respond at a time of crisis with great generosity.
Those supporters who have donated can feel it has been a job well done. UMCOR will continue to accompany the Japanese people as the people themselves direct the tasks of restoring their nation’s infrastructure and promoting citizens’ self-reliance, their psychosocial healing, and their rehabilitation from trauma.
Please give to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450, for those hundreds of thousands of people around the world who (just like the Japanese) welcome your help in overcoming the devastation that results from natural or civil disasters.
Watch a video on how United Methodists have walked with the Japanese people along their road of recovery.
*David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst and a regular contributor to UMCOR’s website.