I was riding on the train the other day, going to one of my many jobs and it occurred to me that Tokyo and its people have returned to normal. Everyone was plugged-in, tuned-up and basically ignoring the strangers around them. While news of the situation in Fukushima, anti-nuclear protests and the struggles for re-building the Tohoku region are headlines everyday in Japan, something is lost. My friends who were here on March 11th have told me story after story of feeling connected with the people around them, like never before. This phenomenon has often been reported after many tragic and life-changing events. Americans know this happened after September 11th, Katrina, and even horrible shootings like Columbine and last months Aurora cinema shooting. It’s unfortunate that horrible events bring out our awareness of others suffering and our concern. It’s even more unfortunate that this human caring is hard to sustain, when the news coverage dies.
It has been awhile since I have made any updates to Renew Yamada’s website. I am that person on the train. I am the one who has gone on with life. As time passes, it is easy to loose momentum and passion for whatever one is doing. I see that in life and in worthy projects that people choose. Modern, 24-hour a day media coverage often captures our attention with the next drama, disaster or piece of shocking news, often numbing us in the process from overexposure.
Emi and I have been careful not to overdramatize the events of March 11th and yet have tried to shed light on the re-building efforts of Tohoku, or at least Yamada, a small portion of the affected area. While many people have praised us for doing something great, the truth is we have only been a witness to human kindness. There are many true heroes, who are doing wonderful things for the people of Tohoku (I will spotlight some of them in my next post). I have read that serotonin (the natural anti-depressant) is released in the brain, whenever we either, execute an altruistic (self-less, loving) act, when we are the recipients of that act or when we witness this behavior in others. That is why humans act in kindness and concern. It feels good. Emi and I have been happy to be a witness to great kindness and generosity from so many people both in Japan and from those of you outside Japan.
We have raised funds, from your generous contributions totaling $5586.38. As we have stated in previous postings, we had a hard time trying to decide who and where to give the money. We settled on the elementary school children. Their principals will purchase necessities and playground equipment that was lost in the tsunami. We will be disbursing the money to the schools on my next trip up to Yamada in late August.
With the strong yen (which isn’t a good thing for changing dollars to yen), our donation will be about 436,000 in yen. We’d like to give them a round amount of 500,000 (the equivalent of $5000.00 in days gone by). Therefore, Emi and I will be giving our last push in an attempt to round that amount up and clear our inventory of T-shirts. Please find the t-shirts choices, sizes and prizes here. Or feel free to make a donation though PayPal, if you haven’t already.
To our friends living in Japan: Our PayPal is not set-up to receive yen. If you would like to make a donation in yen, please send a message here and we can make arrangements.
We realize that there are many important issues, every day, in all of our lives and we appreciate your support in this one.