More than two years have passed since a 7.2 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan, and you have helped raise over $10 million through GlobalGiving to support more than 25 organizations working directly in Miyagi, Iwate, and more recently, Fukishima.
In March 2013 I returned to Japan with GlobalGiving’s president and co-founder, Mari Kuraishi, to visit the rebuilding efforts that your funds have supported. Two years after 3.11, much has changed. Where a year ago lights were dimmed even in Tokyo and everyone talked obsessively about how to be ready for the next big one in the national public media, now a sense of normalcy has returned to places like Tokyo not directly affected by the disaster. Even in Tohoku, the piles of debris that had covered the landscape just a year before were gone, and in their place were empty fields.
But a lot of things, especially in the depleted and torn up coastal communities are not back to normal, and there is no question that whatever emerges for the Tohoku area, it will have to be a new normal. For one, the question of economic viability—already sharp for the Tohoku communities that even before the tsunami had been aging more quickly than the rest of the country—has become truly acute. This is still no resolution on the very basic question of where people will live—will they be allowed to rebuild on the pieces of land they own so close to the flooding areas?—and people’s main assets are locked up in limbo, stifling bottom-up economic recovery. What this means on a day-to-day basis is that many families are still living in cramped temporary shelters. There is as yet no timeline for people to move into more permanent homes. In Fukushima, the problem is compounded by the fact that people have to decide whether they want to move back to their homes near the nuclear power plant explosion or abandon everything they own.
In this context, we have ended up supporting a two pronged approach in our final grantmaking for the recovery efforts in Tohoku. One, we have found a couple of promising projects working on finding viable alternative economic activities in Miyagi, and would very much like to see them succeed. Two, we have continued to provide ease for the elderly, the young, and the disabled who cannot leave or build out new ventures, in the hope that the communities will be revitalized over time to take care of them all. A list of our most recent grants are at the bottom of this letter. We hope you’ll watch over their evolution and champion their progress.
We’re looking forward to updating you on the progress of these newest grants in the coming months.
Thank you again,
P.S. The Japanese Red Cross Society recently put out a list of the top countries that donated to the relief effort here. According to this study, if GlobalGiving were a separate country, we would be the fourth largest donor. Thanks for your generosity!
New fishing sheds from Peace Winds Japan