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Let’s Go Into the Future with Hope! IGUBE Japan 2014
July 01, 2014

It has been three years since the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. While the victims who lost their homes continue to live in crowded temporary housing, most of them have gone back to their jobs. The government will be dismantling the temporary housing probably next year, and people have been given sufficient time to look for permanent housing.

The focus now is rebuilding the cities that have been destroyed. The government has set safe boundaries, and no buildings are allowed within 300 meters from the sea. Conveyor belts built 15 to 20 feet above the ground to remove garbage from the building sites help to speed up the process without having to use trucks.

Rehabilitation assistance now lies mainly in helping the victims overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be seen in many adults and children. We paid a visit to Dr. Miyagi, a psychiatrist, who himself was affected by the tsunami and has been working with the victims from Day 1 until now.  He donates half a day to running a volunteer service that provides counseling to families who need someone to talk to.

Dr. Miyagi with an Adventist group at the Volunteer Counseling Center Kae Esumi, IGUBE Japan leader, with Sally Phoon

Recently, IGUBE Japan, an Adventist initiative involving Women’s Ministries members all over Japan, helped by giving a concert in Ishinoseki. They have also been providing flower seeds and pots to help in the healing process. Many whose homes were swept away have planted gardens on the sites where their homes once stood but where rebuilding is not allowed since the sites are too near the sea.

Elementary school children from our Adventist circles have been enlisted to write notes of encouragement to older people who have lost loved ones. A woman who lost her husband and her home had been suicidal, but she was cheered by a letter written by one of the children. She even requested that this letter be put in her coffin when she dies.

A donation of USD 5,000 from the Women’s Ministries Department of the General Conference will go toward helping children from Fukushima who were evacuated to temporary housing, where they would be safe from the radiation of the nuclear reactor. They are feeling displaced, worried and depressed as they consider their future, wondering if they will get sick and die prematurely. IGUBE will be running a camp from July 30 through August 4 for a group of these children, soliciting the help of counselors and other volunteers who will give them hope through Bible stories and teach them to connect with God and to leave their worries with Him.

They will go to Nojiri Lake Cabin in Nakano Prefecture with some children from the Akita Church, high school and college student volunteers, and women from three different churches who will serve as teachers, cooks, and counselors. Professionals will also be invited to join. They will have time to bond with these children as friends interested in their recovery. A vegetarian diet will be shared with them to counteract the effects of radiation and give them better health.

Many stories could be told about how IGUBE Japan with its many women volunteers have touched lives and helped to restore people to better mental health as they are healing. Please continue to pray that the people they serve will be led to hope in a God who can provide everything we need not only in this life but who has promised eternity for all who will accept Him.

By Sally Lam-Phoon