Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Tsunami: Christian Relief Workers Urge Help, Prayers

Christian relief workers in Japan are appealing to the public for financial help and prayers as millions are still left without water, food and heating amid near-freezing temperatures since a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the country's north-eastern coast Friday.

A three-person World Vision relief team has begun procuring water, blankets and diapers to serve an initial 6,000 people in the city of Tome, some 190 miles from Sendai.

World Vision also plans to establish Child-Friendly Spaces. These are areas where children can enjoy supervised play and express themselves in music, art and dancing. The structure and safety of these places protects children from some of the psycho-social impact of surviving a disaster.

"Children in Japan are keenly feeling the fear and insecurity that often set in following natural disasters like yesterday's earthquake and tsunami," said World Vision relief manager Kenjiro Ban on Saturday. Child-Friendly Spaces are a key way to address the unique needs of child survivors. This is what World Vision found in its work in Haiti, Chile and other disaster-affected areas.

Mr. Ban is himself a veteran of disaster response. The World Vision Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs manager in Japan was involved in relief operations following numerous recent disasters. This comprises the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2008 Myanmar Cyclone Nargis, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Tomorrow the assessment team will travel to Fukushima, where nuclear contamination has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. The team will inform World Vision's response to the needs there.

World Vision is appealing for $10 million to fund its response in Japan, which may continue for several years. The organisation plans to focus its attention on providing vital relief supplies and Child-Friendly Spaces. But the programme will expand as new assessments are done and staff gain a better understanding of the needs.

On Monday night, World Vision U.S. emergency communications officer Casey Calamusa urged prayers for three groups.

Firstly, he called for prayers for those affected that they do not lose hope. He urged prayers for a quick recovery, especially for children, who are vulnerable in such times. Finally, he urged prayers that aid would reach the hardest-hit areas quickly and help the people on their path to recovery.

Another Christian relief organisation working in Japan, Christian Relief, Assistance, Support, and Hope or CRASH, sent four survey teams Monday to the Tohoku region. This includes Sendai and Fukushima, coastal cities hardest hit by the disaster. The teams went by train, car and motorcycle to assess the damage, find staging grounds and make contact with local communities to prioritise their needs.

CRASH Japan found that the disaster has impeded communication to the affected areas. So it is using funds to purchase vital equipment to facilitate communication between the Tokyo command centre and cities where infrastructure has been weakened or destroyed.

Read More at the Christian Post

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