TOMODACHI Kumamoto Earthquake Relief Event

April 25, 2016 at 6pm - 9pm

On the morning of April 25, five TOMODACHI alumni landed at Kumamoto Airport and headed to Hiroyasu Elementary School in Mashiki. Earlier this month, a series of earthquakes struck Kumamoto prefecture, killing almost 50 people, injuring close to 3,000 and displacing over 100,000 residents from their homes. The Hiroyasu Elementary School now serves as a temporary shelter to over 300 Kumamoto residents, some of whom sleep in their cars outside of the school. The school's gym now serves as a supply center, and drinking water stations and bathing areas have been set up on the grounds. During their trip, the alumni spoke to many people at Hiroyasu Elementary, heard their stories, shared their experience and offered support.

TOMODACHI alumni offering a helping hand
This isn't the first time these alumni have experienced disaster. Four of the five alumni are college students who were in Tohoku during the Great East Japan Earthquake. These students not only experienced 3.11, but also participated in the TOMODACHI Alumni Disaster Resilience Training Program, a two-day course that provides participants with the skills for disaster preparedness, management and support.
That night, the TOMODACHI alumni attended a Japan Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD) meeting, where NPOs and NGOs currently working on the ground in Kumamoto shared their projects and progress, allowing fellow organizations to collaboratively serve the affected regions. This idea was inspired by the TOMODACHI NGO Leadership Training Program, supported by J.P. Morgan, a multi-year program that supports Japanese NGOs, building upon experience from the Great East Japan Earthquake. At the JVOAD meeting, the alumni learned about the many needs the Kumamoto residents, including some that aren't traditionally addressed, such as the assisting children with allergies, organizing programs and opportunities for students, addressing psychological health of affected youth, and supporting minorities and the underserved. 

The JVOAD meeting with NPOs and NGOs from the region
The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) is very proud to see TOMODACHI alumni assisting the Kumamoto region. USJC has many ties to the Kumamoto and Oita communities through our people-to-people leadership programs. Many of our members also have ties to the region through heritage, and feel an important personal connection. We offer condolences and support to all of the affected and their families. 

This disaster has led to an immediate need for emergency supplies, such as food, water and medicine, as well as longer term recovery efforts. We are pleased to see many of the NGO’s that we have worked with over the past five years are active in relief operations. USJC supports Global Giving as one option to our members and supporters who would like to offer their assistance to the people of Kumamoto and surrounding areas. Global Giving, led by Council Member Mari Kuraishi, is well-equipped to direct donated funds to experienced NPO’s and NGO’s working in impactful ways throughout the affected community. For more information, please visit Global Giving’s donation page.

We're so proud of our TOMODACHI alumni!

Will you come?