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Praying for my country from Portland, Oregon

Japan, March 13, 2011

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The last Thursday night was a nightmare. A good friend of mine texted me asking if my family was OK; it was the first time I was informed that Japan, my country was attacked by a great earthquake and tsunami.

I turned on the TV immediately and saw pictures and films of massive amounts of water wiping away houses, cars and people. My heart started pumping so hard as I tried to reach my family and friends in Japan.

My father answered my call right away. I was able to make sure everyone was safe, except my sister who lives in Tokyo. All the phone lines were dead in Tokyo, so my family and I couldn't get a hold of her for about three hours; my anxiety was at the peak and I stayed up the whole night.

Finally, my sister updated “I’m fine! My phone doesn’t work,” on her Facebook page through her iPhone, and that's how I got to know she was safe. I’m now very grateful my family is safe, although my heart has been broken since that night untll now by following the sad news of Japan in the newspapers, on TV and websites.

I am an earthquake survivor. I experienced the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995 when I was six years old. I still remember how I was extremely scared evacuating from home, staying outside in the middle of the winter. There were fires in my neighborhood, the water line was down for weeks and nearly 6,500 precious lives were taken.

My hometown, the city of Kobe, was majorly destroyed. But my city recovered very quickly with great support from many people all over Japan and the world. I wish we could stop earthquakes but, unfortunately, we as humans are powerless against natural disasters.

I am an intern student with Mercy Corps’ Global Citizen Corps Team. I’m very thankful that I could be a part of Mercy Corps’ great work and am also grateful for Mercy Corps’ quick response to support our Japanese partner, Peace Winds. I’m doing everything I can do now to help my colleagues who are working on disaster relief for Japan.

Two of my Japanese friends and I gathered tonight to discuss our action plans for our country from here in Portland, Oregon — so far away from home. We decided to hold a candlelight vigil and fundraising event for survivors on Friday, March 18 from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. at Pioneer Square, downtown Portland’s public place. We are also going to create collection boxes and flyers to ask local restaurants and shops to set up. We talked about building a team of college students to send to Miyagi Prefecture to conduct disaster relief over spring break, but this plan is still up in the air, depending on the sites' needs and the condition.

All the donations we raise will be donated to Mercy Corps' efforts in Japan.

Again, I am thankful for all the support and warm wishes from all over the world for my country, Japan. I deeply appreciate it and my prayers go out to all the people who are affected in natural disasters and conflicts elsewhere in the world including Japan, Haiti, Egypt, Libya and many other nations.

You can support our emergency response alongside our partner, Peace Winds, by clicking here to donate.