Now a little more than two years after Japan’s 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami, I’m traveling the island nation’s northern coastline. Each place I travel unveils two similar roads. The massive scope of the disaster and the incredible heart of the survivors. Of all the disaster areas I have been to personally, this is the most vast and severe. According to estimates by the World Bank, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami is the most costly disaster in world history.
The last few days I’ve kneeled and stood reliving two stories with survivors … unimaginable destruction and resilient hope. Here are a few run-ins with survivors who have been helped by the Amazing Grace Relief Center that Convoy of hope has helped to build and supply.
Her home was wiped out. Yet she smiles and thanks us for the bike that helped her get back to work. She laughs as she realizes she's wearing clothes from the center.
Standing in front of the foundation of her new home, Eiko smiles brightly and says "after the tsunami I was alone, I couldn’t have done anything without your help."
Setsuko who has lived in the same home for 45 years cleaned out her entire yard of mud herself. With welling eyes she gives thanks for a heater and bike that were provided by Convoy of Hope and the center.
Kotoku, who lives in temporary housing was so excited to show us her iron she received and now uses for arts and crafts in her 100 sq. ft. dining, living and rec room.
Hatsue (front) points out that some of her best friends are ones she never knew until they met at the relief center. Now they make crafts together to sell and support the center.
The tsunami destroyed Hiroko's home and the ground it sat on, but she's overjoyed to drag the heater she received out of her temporary bedroom just for us to see.
Noriko's story is one I'll never forget. She carried two elderly women through water to save them. Here she serves us tea and cherry blossom rice and through a breaking voice and grateful eyes, Noriko touches her heart and says, "I would like to express my gratidude for not only the necessities but also for the prayers … I felt peace and the heaviness on my heart was lifted. I am very grateful have come to know Convoy of Hope."