Japan Disaster Relief
The decision to launch a relief effort for Japan came easy. Just one glimpse of the news after the March 11th quake/tsunami hit, triggered every sensor I have for this work. It was a “no-brainer”.
It’s the same formula every time – Utter devastation = people in need. And in these unfortunate circumstances, Waves For Water is in a position to help people with one of their most essential needs – water!
I’ve said this before but it’s always hard to go to a place where the needs are many and accept that you’re only helping with one of them. It’s so easy to get caught in the head space of trying to fix all their problems… I remember in the days shortly after the Haiti quake last year, we’d give an entire village access to clean water and I’d still drive away with my head in my lap…gutted because I couldn’t help them with all the other needs they had. But through many experiences like this I started to retrain my initial thought process and really harness the the one thing we do. It’s the age old philosophy of focusing on one thing and doing it well, rather than splitting focus between many things and doing them all averagely. The same basic philosophy applied in Japan.
But it was the decision of how to navigate the VERY serious nuclear radiation situation that was our biggest challenge preceding our mission. This was/is an x-factor that no one has a real answer for. It’s the invisible enemy… Since starting W4W, I have always made decisions from my gut and it’s rarely lead me astray. It’s sort of been my mandate – listen to my gut and then stand behind my decision. But this was a whole new deal… we’ve gone to some of the most destitute places in the world, but never has something like radiation been a factor. All of these components made my brain cramp during the week following this catastrophe.
I knew that this was a far different scenario than I’ve ever encountered before. For one, every place we’ve worked needs the filters long before any disaster that may bring us there. They are all developing countries that have daily struggles with the most basic of needs – water, food, shelter, education, etc… This is NOT the case for a place like Japan. Not only do they have a solid infrastructure in place, they are a major player in the global community. We actually encountered many naysayers when I announced our plans to do something in Japan. I only had my gut feeling and the simple rebuttal – ‘it doesn’t matter where these types of catastrophes happen, the needs are always the same’. Of course I knew that anyone we were to give a filter system to would eventually get their municipal water back up and running, providing no further use for our system. That said, the devastation from this event is so large in scale that it could very easily be 6+ months for the local authorities to do so… especially for the more remote areas along the coastline North of Sendai. I have been through these areas before as a surfer and they’re very tight little beachside communities that survive off the ocean and agriculture. Our plan was simple – help restore just a little normalcy back to these humble communities during a time when everything (literally) has been turned upside down. I thought, if we can just ease one of their worries then it’s completely worth it. And it was…