Help is there when the unimaginable happens
"March 11, little before 3:00 p.m., I heard a rattling sound and that was the beginning of the tragedy. I thought the shaking would settle soon, but I was wrong,” described Lion Masamitsu Kitamura, President of Hitachi Sakura Lions Club. Kitamura had no way of knowing the destruction that would occur over the next several minutes. The most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan killed more than 15,000 people and damaged or destroyed more than 180,000 buildings. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless, and millions had no electricity or water.
Lions spring into action
With 107,000 Lions and 3,200 Lions clubs across Japan, Lions were immediately at work on providing what relief they could for victims, who included many Lions themselves. “When I called District Governor Tabata, his parents and relatives were missing, but his first comment to me was ‘I must do something.’ I felt a rush of emotion that I can hardly describe,” expressed District Governor Motohiro Oono, Saitama, 330-C. Within a day of the disaster, many courageous clubs were distributing emergency supplies. Working with local governments and the Japanese Red Cross, Lions set up four relief aid warehouses in affected areas and used an online map to coordinate efforts.
Japanese Lions have not wavered in serving those in need and helping Japan earthquake and tsunami victims regain a sense of purpose and dignity. A team of women Lions provided assistance in finding employment to recent young women graduates who had lost their job or education prospects. Lions built cardboard dividers to give people housed in large shelters some privacy. And they brought children special cards with uplifting messages from other children in Japan. Lions have brought smiles to children’s faces, and hope to their parents.
Japan will rebuild, with the help of the world’s Lions
With the support of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Major Catastrophe and Emergency grants as well as an outpouring of donations from Lions around the globe totaling more than US$21 million, Japanese Lions have been able to bring immediate relief to victims, as well as begin the long cleanup and rebuilding process. “In the middle of the devastation, the Lions I met with there are standing with dignity, and ready to help people in the worst condition. We should support these Lions with all our strength,” said Lion Oono.