because of my research about disaster recovery, i am very fortunate to already know some of the people who were really involved with recovery after the kobe earthquake. there’s one small group who are made up of professors/community organizers/non-profits (some people wearing all of these hats!), who are involved in a number of different projects that i’ve joined in (the disaster recovery community starts to feel like everyone is connected!).
yesterday, they were having a meeting to discuss how to support tohoku. since i’m in hawaii, i wasn’t there of course, but they called me via skype. at that time, i was at my brother’s friends’ house, and my phone wasn’t working, so i sat in the office of their house, using their computer, which didn’t have a camera, and i didn’t know a way to hook up a mike, and i couldn’t type in japanese! so it was a funny skype ‘conversation’; i could hear everything that they were saying, but they couldn’t hear me. and neither could see each other. and since there was no japanese language, i had to type in romanji (which is strange for japanese people to read). but i could hear them talking, and each of their voices, and the distinctive laughs–especially of one of the professors, who has a very jolly high-pitched belly-laugh.
these are a handful of people who worked together after the kobe earthquake 16 years ago, who are close friends, who are experts and comrades in disaster recovery. they were discussing the details of the situation (they had already discussed forming a network to support tohoku), and logistics for supplies, and a reconnaissance visit.
hearing their disembodied voices, for the first time after the earthquake and tsunami, i felt comforted. as adults, we can never have that feeling of safety that only a child can feel. and after any natural disaster, there is nothing that can take it back, or change the fact that it happened. but when i listened to my japanese friends, disaster recovery experts who are ready to start doing what needs to be done for the victims of the tsunami, i feel encouraged. i really trust their actions, their instincts, their knowledge and ability. and i feel so honored and fortunate to be considered in some small way a part of their group.
i feel ready too. ready to do whatever i can. ready to be back in japan, already, even if my mom is scared for me. the work that comes next is the reason for everything i have studied until now. i can’t wait to start.