Relief for Those Shaken in Kumamoto
Organized by: Kiana Pinter
"JISHINSAI, JISHINSAI." It's 1:24 in the morning of April 15. The Japanese Early Warning System on the phone is blaring. Sitting up in the tiny room we were renting out in Hiroshima, heart hammering in my chest, I grab the sofa of the pull-out as the whole room jerks to the left. The building sways, lamp ring jingling violently next to me. Then it comes to a stop. With a grimace, I instantly knew Kumamoto had been hit with an earthquake much worse than the one the day before. And I could only pray that the few seniors and their families in Kumamoto were okay. It's 1:30 now. I'm on Facebook Messenger in our senior group chat. I've been told a tsunami alert had been issued, which in the near 15 years of living in Japan, we'd never received any this far south. It's oddly terrifying even though it is an alert. At the same time, the other 24 seniors and I on our chat are anxiously awaiting any answers from our fellow seniors in Kumamoto for the spring recess. It takes three hours before they respond. At this point it's nearly five in the morning. The school we attend and my home near Nagasaki are okay and luckily, so are the seniors who were in Beppu (second hit by earthquake) and Kumamoto. We're relieved to find they are returning home the following day still. It's unsettling though to hear of the families displaced and the buildings torn to rubble from the earthquakes and landslides. I visited Kumamoto a few years back, the castle being a fond memory as it was the first castle I'd seen and Japan and the most memorable trip I had taken in Japan with my family. The feeling of uneasiness worsens when we began our journey back south to home. The freeway is littered with nothing but Japanese military, Red Cross, ambulances, 7/11 trucks and water company trucks. All of them have one similar white sign attached to their sides. It's obvious they're headed for Kumamoto and the areas affected. We had to have passed at least twenty Red Cross trucks, after having left a rest stop where nearly every parking space was lined with Japanese military relief vehicles. We arrow home safely, early warning systems blaring every once in a while. We return back to school and learn our office has decided to set up a donation box to send to Kumamoto as relief efforts in helping our Japanese locals. Kumamoto is a mere two and a half hours away, just across a small body of water. It's nice to know we have easier access to them than we did during the Tohoku Earthquke on March 11, 2011. I'm able to donate a case of water, feeling worse when handing it over. It's hardly enough to cover one family and I want to do more. Give more. Save more. Make more of a difference and somehow for those in Kumamoto. In 2011, I'd sent old clothes up somehow and with someone but I knew it wasn't enough either. And now is the chance to take to help out those in need. It should be of human nature to feel compassion to help those suffering in disasters. It would mean everything beyond words to raise money to support Kumamoto in relief efforts. At this point, baby products, sanitary products for women and for overall cleanliness, packaged foods, blankets and toiletries are needed beyond anything else. Especially as we move into the rainy season. If I can raise the money to support Kumamoto by buying such products, it would mean a great deal to me and a greater deal to those suffering. Please, help us in Kumamoto's relief efforts as they become strained due to persistent rainy weather, threatening to make the areas susceptible to more landslides. Pretty soon, typhoon season will be upon us and it would be unfortunate for more casualties to occur if one was to strike those areas directly. They are still suffering aftershocks, so please, make an impact in their lives by offering a donation. We can offer so much to them.