Today, April 11th, marks one month since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, destroyed many coastal cities leaving tens of thousands dead, many more homeless and those still unaccounted for. The most recent 7.2 quake that hit the Miyagi/Sendai region again this past Thursday night, put further stress on an already very difficult mission.
And while several organizations are touting their success in raising money for relief efforts, there are clearly unmet – and immediate – needs on the ground.
As one example: during the past month, Japan Jewish Relief, a project of Chabad of Asia / Japan, has distributed over 50,000 meals in Sendai, Shichigahama, Ishinomaki and Yamamoto. The past ten days their efforts have been focused in the town of Watari – providing fresh baked bread daily, instant soup cups, croissants and now (at the request of Watari citizens who have not eaten protein in almost a month) preparing to provide salted fish and other canned foods.
This past week Chabad of Asia was contacted by the Mayor of the city Onagawa-cho, asking for bread and other food supplies for at least one to two weeks until their situation comes under control. There are more than 6,000 displaced people in that city living in shelters, and relief supplies have been minimal.
Yet, according to Chabad, while they have manpower to help, they are lacking appropriate funds. They tell us that decreased news coverage has made raising additional donations challenging. Current needs include everything from underwear and towels to canned food and ready to eat meals. While the JDC and Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief have stepped in with assistance, more help is clearly needed.
As Passover approaches, let us not only remember those in our own communities in need of help, but those around the globe who currently lack the basic necessities of life.