Hey all, I know I haven't updated in a while, but I wanted to share something special and really important from a friend of mine, Doug, whose life has been deeply impacted by the disaster that is going on in Japan right now. Please take a moment to read his message and pass it along to anyone else that you know. If you haven't already donated to the Red Cross or another generous organization dedicated to helping those suffering from the Earthquake & Tsunami in Japan, please consider making a donation to the New Orleans Japan Quake Fund.
Japan's Impact on My Life and New Orleans and a Plea for Your Help by Doug Tassin
I'm sure everyone is aware of the current situation in Japan regarding the earthquakes, tsunamis, and the horrifying events taking place at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants. Last night, the radiation radius around Fukushima Daini Plant was expanded another 10km, moving it into Iwaki City. Hopefully, the cores can be cooled and contained, and any meltdown at any plant in Japan is prevented. All the events that have decimated the Tohoku region of Japan since Thursday have really taken their toll on me, but the fact that this radiation "bubble" has expanded into Iwaki has me really sad.
Iwaki, like all of Fukushima, is a wonderful place. It is home to beautiful beaches, fantastic hiking trails, wonderful and caring people, and some of the best food I've ever eaten. It's a place that I hold near and dear to my heart. Iwaki houses 3 years worth of memories that I will never forget. It is my second home and a place where many people who I consider family still live. Every night and day I pray for their safety and hope that some kind of relief can come to them (and all of those affected by this disaster).
In fact, this is very similar to how I felt after Hurricane Katrina. About 2 weeks after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, I moved to Tokyo, Japan to study at Sophia University, at that point fulfilling my lifelong dream of going to and studying in Japan. However, it was a bittersweet fulfillment. I had left all of my family and friends behind to battle the destruction that Katrina had left in her wake. I felt horrible about leaving and even told my dad I didn't even know if I could go. But he told me, "Go. This is your dream. It could be your only chance. We'll be okay." But not a day passed while I was in Japan where I didn't think about the troubles and struggles my friends and family were going through.
But then one day on the news in Japan, I heard that Japan had sent military assistance and relief to Katrina-affected areas. In a recent editorial in the Times Picayune (http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2011/03/time_to_repay_japan.html), a writer commented on what the Japanese provided New Orleans:
After Katrina, the Japanese government offered material and monetary assistance that surpassed $1 million and that included tents, blankets, power generators and portable water tanks. Japan also provided $200,000 to the American Red Cross to aid hurricane victims. In addition, Takashi Endo, a private businessman in Japan, donated $1 million from his personal funds to Katrina relief efforts. I don't know if you have already donated to a cause but if you haven't, please consider this one.At the end of the article, they also note ways to give relief and pay Japan back for its past generosity. However, there is one more way.
The New Orleans Japan Quake Fund is currently in the process of being established. It is being formed by a coalition of New Orleans-based, Japan-related groups: Japan Club of New Orleans, Japan Society of New Orleans, jetaaNOLA (JET Program Alumni Association, New Orleans Chapter), and Japanese Garden Society. With the full support of Honorary Consul General of Japan Donna Fraiche and hopefully the endorsement of the govenor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans, we are creating this fund as a means for all of New Orleans to repay the generosity and care that Japan showed us in our time of need. This donor administered fund will be created through the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), and we plan to raise money in the fund and give it directly to an organization in Japan. GNOF has a long history of successfully administering funds, and we will still be able to direct where the money goes. As mentioned, it is still being set up and should be available VERY soon, but in the meantime, feel free to sign up for the New Orleans Japan Quake Fund mailing list at http://www.japanclubofneworleans.org/donations. You will receive updates, news, and information about the fund and future fundraising activities. Also feel free to contact me if you are interested in making donations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My total four years in Japan were the greatest time in my life, and I will never ever forget that. I am forever indebted to Japan, and my love for the country runs deeper than I had ever realized. Especially now, after Japan has experienced the worst natural disaster it has ever experience in its documented history and one similar to (but much worse than) one experienced in New Orleans, I want to give back to the country that has given me so much. New Orleans, Louisiana, America, World. Are you ready to help Japan recover? I sure as hell am.
One last request: Could you please share this note with your other Facebook friends and pass along the link for the New Orleans Japan Quake Fund? I would greatly appreciate it... Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!