- Maryknoll Sisters Japan Newsletter - March 2011
- Monday March 14
- Tuesday March 15
- Wednesday March 16
- Thursday March 17
- Friday March 18
- Saturday March 19, 2011
- Nuclear Accident and Children With Cancer
- Many Children face trauma from disaster (pictures)
- Temporary Shelter for Evacuees (pictures)
- Thank You
- All Pages
We normally post the Maryknoll Sisters' newsletter from Japan, Focus Japan, in the downloads area for registered users. However, given the recent disasters, we are posting it here on our front page for all interested to read. Registered users can still download the PDF version here and accompanying pictures here. In her email, Sister Rachel Lauze MM wrote:
Dear Maryknoll Family,
We usually send our FOCUS JAPAN newsletter at the end of April, but due to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster, this issue will cover only the past week's happening. Later in April we'll send another newsletter with updates from the beginning of this new year.
Many thanks to so many of you who have written to us during the past days. In the name of the people here in Japan we say thank you for your caring and prayers.
In last Wednesday's account I said that the disaster victims were stranded in 500 shelters. In today's newspaper the National Police Agency stated: "A total of about 350,000 evacuees, including those who fled from the vicinity of the troubled nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture, are now staying at some 2,100 shelters set up by 15 Prefectures." (The Daily Yomiuri, March 22, 2011, p.1.) Our friend Charles McJilton, director of Second Harvest Japan, an NPO which delivered food to shelters his team could reach, claims the number in shelters is closer to 450,000.
Thank you again,
for the Maryknoll Sisters in Japan
MARYKNOLL SISTERS-JAPAN MARCH 2011 VOLUME 41 NUMBER 1
The Great Japan Earthquake , Tsunami, and Nuclear Reactor Accidents of March 11, 2011
The probability suspected but not expected, Japan‟s triple disaster of a 9.9 magnitude earthquake, monster tsunami and nuclear reactor accidents of March 11, 2011 has not yet ceased to challenge us all.
Although the earthquake and tsunami wiped out lives, home, land and infrastructure in the prefectures north east of Tokyo on that Friday afternoon, the Maryknoll Sisters living in the greater metropolitan area of Tokyo and Kamakura experienced a strong shake up as well. What follows is an account of their experiences.
Jean Michalec: On the second storey of a community center where I facilitate an English conversation group for women each Friday afternoon, the big earthquake sent us crouching under the table for cover from falling objects and away from windows in case of glass shattering.
The buses continued to run so I was able to get back to our Maryknoll house in Kichijoji (western side of Tokyo). Although phone communications soon jammed up, I was eventually able to receive calls and text messages from the other sisters and became the pro tem contact person.
Sophia Aihara: My "Tai Chi‟ teacher had just told our group to begin our practice when the earthquake struck. I too was able to get home by bus. There I found many of our plates and drinking glasses in pieces on the floor and began the clean up work. As there were after shocks still occurring, I also wrapped as many of the fragile dinner ware as I could in newspaper.
Rachel Lauze: After an art therapy day with women at Peace of Mind House for homeless women, I was walking down the street on my way to the subway. Suddenly the pavement felt like rubber that was being shaken by an invisible force. The frightened faces of the elderly waiting at a bus stop finally registered in my consciousness that this was no usual tremor but something of major proportions. (As I write this, I am still feeling tremors occurring). I passed a group of little elementary school girls in their uniforms when the second big shake occurred. They stared in amazement at the wires and awnings waving in the breezeless air.
Having reached the entrance to the subway I met people hurrying out who informed me that the trains were all stopped. "How to get home?", I wondered. It was too far to walk. Seeing that the local buses were still running, I got one that I knew could take me to Sanyu Kai, the support center for the homeless and needy, where Rita Burdzy is the clinic nurse. Expecting to find this shabby little building in shambles, I was presently surprised to find it in tact. Since I usually go to help cook there only on the first half of the week , the staff were surprised to see me show up but welcomed me warmly. Rita said, "Sister Ninomiya and I sat in the archway on the stairs after the first big quake. The whole building shook!"
Rita and I could not get back across town that evening because the commuter trains were stopped, so we became „homeless‟ ourselves at this support center for the homeless where we sought shelter. Along with four other Sisters on staff we spread blankets on the small dining room floor and let the volunteer doctor sleep on the examining table in the clinic downstairs.
Having kept the TV on all night in case of a warning to evacuate and also to learn when the train lines would open, we finally were able to leave at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday (3/12) and reach Kichijoji safely.
Abby Avelino: Asahi Culture Center, where I have been taking Japanese Language classes these past two years, is where I was when the earthquake caused this high rise building to sway.
When I looked out of the window and saw the next tall building across the street swaying like a weed in the wind a terrifying feeling swept over me. Along with the others there I stayed under the table. Everyone was talking in their own native language in a frantic way. I just wished they would keep quiet a little.
A Mercedarian Sister studying there with me had gone somewhere and we couldn't connect through our cell phones. Her convent is closer than ours so I was hoping at least to get as far as that.
My conversation teacher was also stranded since she lives in the city just north of Tokyo proper. Together we set out trying to find a bus. Then she thought we might find a taxi if we went to one of the big hotels in the area. No available taxis! We had no choice but to begin to walk among with more than 10,000 people stranded that night. Having always gone to the Mercedarians‟ place by train, I didn't know how to find my way on foot. Finally I was able to get a call through on a public phone and get the directions to the convent from the Sister who answered. The walk was 45 minutes, but with all that had gone on since the quake we didn't arrive at the Mercedarian's place until 10:00 p.m.! What a relief it was to be able to spend the night with those Sisters.
The next morning, I took bus to get home which took longer than as usual, I was able to reach home.
Elizabeth Kato: The earthquake brought me and the staff of Kalakasan Women's Empowerment Center downstairs and outdoors for safety. When the tremors toned down we went back into the building but now were without electricity. It got colder and colder. We pulled out some blankets and ate cold food for supper. It took a while to get in contact with Jean Michalec back at our Maryknoll house in Kichijoji. Then there was nothing more we could do but huddle together and wait for the dawn.
Trains started running only around 8:00 a.m. but the only one available took me home in a long round about way. So I was the last one to return to our Maryknoll house on Saturday morning.
Kathleen Reiley: I had just finished teaching my Friday English language class at Fujisawa Parish when the earthquake shook us. When it seemed over, I was able to ride my bicycle back to our house in Kamakura. Since we have no TV I could only keep my radio on all night to get some information on what was happening.
Margaret Lacson: I too was at Fujisawa Parish preparing music for the weekend liturgy which I help out with in that Church when the earthquake struck. Standing on shaky ground at Fujisawa Catholic Church, holding on to each other to keep ourselves steady, Sister Kathleen Reiley and I and 4 other women were passing comments on how this was the first time each of us ever experienced a very strong earthquake. We also commented on how long it was. It seemed never ending. I kept looking up at the buildings around us. Which of them would fall on us? I kept looking at the big tall cherry tree. Would it be safe for us to go under it? And then, the shaking stopped, and we all went back inside and continued what we were doing before the earthquake, just as if life went back to normal.
A few minutes later, Kathleen said goodbye. She was off to go home to Kamakura on her bicycle. I bid her goodbye saying I'll follow in a few minutes via the train. In fact, the trains were no longer running so I hopped on the bus instead and got to Kamakura in about an hour, about 15 minutes longer than it normally would have taken. Kathleen and I returned to a house that night without electricity. Of that fateful day, the shaking ground, the slightly longer bus ride home, and the power outage were the only hardships I experienced. In the succeeding days, it was hard to do ordinary shopping as most people were doing panic-buying, emptying the stores of staple foods such as rice, bread and milk.
Soon after, we heard that we were going to have rolling power outages. It is a little strange, but I was in fact grateful that I could offer up something for those people in evacuation areas who were suffering from the cold because they had no power. Where the tsunami hit is quite a distance from Kamakura so it is not simple to just go and volunteer to help the victims. Sharing electricity with them was one way of helping them. Whenever we have no power now in the house, I offer up the inconvenience. It is my way of sharing in their plight and of sharing with them my gift of having electricity to keep me warm and comfortable.
Maureen Mitten and Teruko Ito in Kyoto said they did not feel the earthquake down in that part of Japan south west of Tokyo, but were finally relieved to receive calls from the rest of the Maryknoll Sisters in Japan and news of their safety.
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