I am a very "wired" person for someone of my age. I check my email before I am even fully awake in the morning. On Friday, I did what I normally do. What met me in my inbox was way beyond comprehension. The email was from a great friend and now member of our family. The headline of her email jolted me. "HUGE QUAKE!" I quickly grabbed my reading glasses:
I went to the computer, checked breaking news, read about the horror of the quake and the tsunami. I looked in disbelief at the images. I immediately opened Facebook and Twitter looking for posts from everyone. The young woman who heads our skater's fan club had already posted on her personal page that she and her family were okay but they had no power or water. She was messaging from her phone. I heard from our photographer friend in Tokyo; our cartoonist friend, and finally from a friend/fan who lives on one of the northern islands. I went to the fan page, opened Google Translator, and asked fans to let us know if they were okay. Responses started coming in almost immediately. I went to my Twitter and also asked to hear from people. I had to take some posts in Japanese and paste them into Google Translate to understand the responses, and to follow what was being said as these friends whom I had never met dealt with their fears and the terror that was gripping their lives. I found BBC live TV coverage on line and began watching as images of a city my husband and my son had visited in 2007 for NHK was being decimated by the awesome power of nature. For all intents and purposes, Sendai was gone. The devastation we were witnessing half way around the world left us feeling totally helpless in the face of Nature's power.
"Just to let you know that I’m all right, although I’ve been walking through one gazillion books and video tapes scattered over the floors at my place. It was the biggest earthquake in the country’s history and the eastern-northern half of the archipelago is totally paralyzed with all the railroads, highways and airports closed…Scary. :(((("
This weekend of horror and frustration, and incredible sadness, has put some things into perspective. We can't prevent or truly prepare for the powers that boil under the surface of the earth. All we can do is care for the people who are suffering. What's important in this life right now is not a skating competition; it is the race to survive. What's important is how we can help, even half a world away. Many organizations are stepping up assistance to Japan. Here are some ways you can get involved and help people:
• Convoy of Hope's Disaster Response team is in contact with partners in Japan and identifying areas in the greatest need of assistance. You can donate online at convoyofhope.org or text TSUNAMI to 50555 to donate $10 toward the relief efforts.
• AmeriCares is asking for donations so they can provide medicine and medical supplies to victims of the disaster.
• Global Giving has set up a relief fund where you can make a donation, which will be distributed to relief and emergency services in the affected region.
• Direct Relief International is reaching out to medical teams and emergency responders to offer assistance.
• Save the Children is mobilizing a response to the disaster in Japan with a focus on helping the youngest victims.
• International Medical Corps is sending medical supplies and relief teams to Japan. Help by donating $10 by texting MED to 80888.
• Make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross by text messaging REDCROSS to 90999 or visit redcross.org to donate online.
The one thing we cannot afford to do is nothing. Give what you can. Stay informed. Ultimately, Nature is in control. All we can do is control our caring and how we react to what has happened. If you can't afford to give, at least give of yourself by volunteering. That's all that is really important.