Sunday March 11th will mark the one year anniversary of Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami which caused major destruction and devastation to Japan’s coastal communities. In some areas entire villages were swept away by the wall of water affecting over 400,000 people.
As news reel after news reel showed the devastation unfold, the Irish public responded quickly and generously to the Irish Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. It is thanks to donations such as these that the Red Cross is able to continue supporting the recovery of affected communities in Japan.
Over the last 12 months the Red Cross has reached almost 280,000 disaster affected individuals. Donations from Ireland and communities worldwide are being used to support those in temporary housing, children, the elderly as well as health infrastructure.
Many families lost nearly everything they had to the tsunami, including their homes and income. For those left homeless the government of Japan constructed 70,000 prefabricated shelters in three prefectures. The Red Cross continues to support these families by supplying psychosocial support as well as appliance packages.
Mr Kumagai is a resident of the Iwate prefecture along with his wife, both are in their 70s. “It was really a great help to us to receive these appliances, because at the beginning, there was nowhere to buy these things nearby so we would have had to travel a long way,” said Mr Kumagai.
The Red Cross is also supporting the recovery of schools and nursing homes in the disaster area, purchasing school buses, helping to equip school gymnasia and sick bays, and buying clothing and cutlery sets, as well as providing other equipment, such as computers. In the nursing centres the Red Cross is providing special adjustable beds and vehicles. The tsunami affected area is one with an ageing population demographic
The focus of much of the Red Cross’ activity has now moved towards helping survivors in temporary homes. Red Cross volunteers and staff conduct regular psychosocial activities in the community centres serving those living in temporary housing settlements. Growing numbers of residents are taking part, helping to bond the temporary communities together as local people increasingly reach out to the most vulnerable in their midst
The Irish Red Cross would like to thank everyone who donated to the Japan Tsunami appeal – with your support the Red Cross is able to continue its activities in Japan. Activities that are essential to those left in need by the wall of water that swept away life as they once knew it, Thank you.
For video footage and stories from the survivors of the devastating earthquake and Tsunami, visit www.myredcross.ie