Remembering Japan

As rebuilding work continues in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami which struck March 11 off the country’s east coast, it’s vital to remember that we here at home have a role to play as well.

Canadians are urged to donate, and to continue to support the devastated country through the bleak weeks and months ahead as the people of Japan deal with the fallout of the calamity.

Needless to say, it’s not just an outpouring of generosity that is needed promptly. Consistent support will be needed into the future. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to forget that need extends far beyond the immediate period following a disaster.

For now, Canadians are clearly lending a helping hand.

The Canadian Red Cross is transferring $5 million in cash to the Japanese Red Cross to support relief efforts following the quake.

Officials say the money will be used to support emergency health care and the distribution of relief items to people impacted by this disaster.

“The compassion the Canadian people have demonstrated over the past week through their generous support to the Canadian Red Cross is incredibly uplifting at a time when we are dealing with such an immense humanitarian tragedy,” said Satoshi Sugai, director International Relief Division, Japanese Red Cross Society.

What the Japanese people have been and are going through is obviously unimaginable to Canadians. And even though some folks may become overwhelmed and therefore a bit desensitized to the images shown repeatedly on the news, offering ongoing support isn’t something we should look at as optional.

People sometimes look at disasters and understandably feel a sense of helplessness. Where do we start? What kind of a difference can I make? But helplessness can breed inaction – a kind of ‘paralysis’ of compassion if you will.

Therefore, it’s critical to remember that when you give – and no matter how much you give — you are making a profound difference. You may never know exactly where or how, but you can be assured it’s serving the greater good. If in doubt, consider the rest of Satoshi Sugai’s statement.

“This financial support is very much needed and continues to be welcomed to help the hundreds of thousands of lives that will forever be changed by this disaster.”

Yes, lives have been forever changed. But we can still help, with our collective gifts, to bring relief to people living through the nightmare of their lives.

Canadians can continue to support Red Cross relief efforts by making a financial donation to the Canadian Red Cross Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami fund. Donations can be made online at, at the local branch office or by calling toll free 1-800-418-1111.