This is a personal message from Mari Kuraishi, President and Co-Founder of GlobalGiving. Mari, a Japanese national, is preparing to visit Japan following the 1-year anniversary of the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami.
To the generous donors of GlobalGiving's Japan Relief Fund,
As you probably know, today is the one-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. For the last several weeks my colleauges and I have been planning our trip to Japan to visit our project partners in the Tohoku area. Planning for the trip has made us all realize just how much has been accomplished in the recovery efforts since March 11, 2011, and also how much remains to be done.
As we planned the logistics of our trip, I blithely expected we would be able to get to most places by train, because that's usually a pretty good assumption to make in Japan. But not this time. I assumed that hotels, restaurants, and other services would be operating anywhere we planned to be – but that’s not the case. It took many phone calls to uncover the fact that some trains still aren't even operating and lots of business are still closed in the Tohuku area, and that's when it hit home for me.
A year feels like a long time when you think of all the things accomplished since the great Tohoku/Kanto earthquake and tsunami. But a year is not enough for individual businesses to be rebuilt, for people's lives to be brought back to normal, or even for plants to grow back.
I'll be going back to Japan in two weeks, both to visit my home and to thank all the amazing Japanese leaders who are still hard at work putting their communities and their country back together again. I’ll be meeting with people like Hatakeyama-san, a fisherman in Kesennuma who used your donations to buy ropes and build rafts to start oyster farming in his area. I'll be speaking with Japanese women from the civil sector about what it means to be Japanese, a woman, and a leader at this make-or-break time in the course of Japanese history. Finally, I’ll be seeing the cherry blossoms – symbols of hope and renewal – as they bloom again in Japan one year after the devastation.
Each and every one of you has helped in some way. As I meet face-to-face with the people affected by the earthquake, I would be humbled to hand-deliver your messages of support. Will you please share a message of encouragement that I can deliver on your behalf? What questions would you like me to ask of the people who you have helped support? Please share your comments and questions on our Facebook post; I’ll read them, share them with the people I meet, and then I'll send an update when I return from my trip.
I'd also like to ask you to consider giving again on the 1st anniversary of the disaster in order to help more people like Hatakeyama-san re-establish their livelihoods. We are still actively disbursing your donations to local partners who are helping with long-term rebuilding efforts.
There’s still a long road ahead for Japan, but we thank you for standing with the Japanese people in hope for renewal and recovery. I look forward to sending another update about your funds after I arrive in Japan.
Mari Kuraishi, President and Founder, GlobalGiving