Standing By Japan: Volunteer In Tokyo Shares His Experiences

Photo: (World Vision/2011)

Casey Calamusa, 25, is an international news and emergency communications officer with the World Vision U.S. News Bureau. He was deployed on assignment to Japan one day after the quake.

I don’t know what I expected to see when I first arrived in Japan, just 40 hours after the giant quake and tsunami.

I was surprised to see that Tokyo was not too badly affected. People were walking around with a sense of resilience and hope, somehow determined to move forward from one of the most heartrending disasters in the country’s history.

But tragedy is still the message all over the news here. I talked to Nanako, a 28-year-old World Vision Japan staffer, who spoke about the fear she and her friends had diving beneath their desks, praying for their lives. Tokyo may be a distance from the quake’s epicenter, but it’s easy to see how everyone’s lives are affected.

I’m here to help coordinate communication from relief teams on the ground and to relay that information back to World Vision offices in other countries supporting relief efforts.

In any disaster situation, it’s extremely difficult to communicate the challenges nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) face in relief responses and the needs of those affected. Part of my role is to ensure, as best I can, that communication isn’t lost somewhere in the middle. In this case, it’s clear that messages of help, hope and unity are desperately needed.

Nanako told me that for the first time in a long time, she felt that the Japanese people were coming together because of this experience. Two weeks from now, my recollection of being here will be a blur. But I’ll never forget the tremendous faith I’ve already witnessed among the relief staff, whose passion in their response will encourage me in the days and months ahead. I’ll also remember the spirit of the Japanese people to overcome, and a world that stands by their side.

Read an extended interview with Casey on WorldVision.org.

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