For Japan With Love

Tomorrow I’ll be observing a blogger’s day of silence (aka: no posting) to bring attention to the disaster(s) occurring in Japan and the necessary disaster relief efforts. Two fabulous bloggers have organized “For Japan With Love” – a rally cry for bloggers to leverage their voices to bring attention to this cause. They’ve also created an outlet to donate to the cause – by clicking on the image below or visiting, you can donate to ShelterBox, an organization that provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters at the time when they need it the most. Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items.

This call for help is personal for me.  Just this morning I was on the phone with my mom, hearing the latest update about my family in Japan.

My dad’s brother Shawn taught English in Japan after college, where he met my now aunt Kiyomi, and has lived for the last ten years with their four children, her sister and her elderly parents.  They live near Tokyo, so when the earthquake first struck last week, we were just so glad their house was intact and everyone was safely accounted for. Now that the situation with the radiation has gotten worse, they’ve been forced to make the decision about whether to stay or go. The last few days have proven challenging to even attempt to get plane tickets out of the country, given they only have a little power every few hours and the trains are only running every so often. There was also concern about bringing the children to the airport given the chaos and reports of lack of food and water.

Last night when I went to bed, the update was that they’ve made the painful decision to leave Kiyomi’s parents and sister behind in an effort to get the kids out of the country quickly and were able to get tickets out of the country for next week. This morning I woke up to hear that they were at the airport attempting to board U.S. evacuation planes, but are running into problems with the children’s passports. Two of the children don’t speak English well and apparently no one has any idea where the evacuation planes will take them once they’re on board, and it may not necessarily be America — I can’t imagine how scary it must be for the kids right now.

I have no doubt in my mind they’ll be on a plane safely at some point soon. However, it just brings to life what a complete mess that country is in. These are the struggles of people who still have their home, belongings and all of their family members accounted for, which is much more than most people in that country have right now. I can’t even imagine what people in the other regions of that country are currently experiencing and will continue to experience in risidual effects for years to come.

Last summer our aunt, uncle and cousins came to Iowa for the first time in more than five years and we had a great time with them. I can easily speak for everyone in my family to say we’re looking forward to having them safely in Iowa again (soon!) and will appreciate our time together perhaps even more than last time.


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