Quake survivors return home, fall into limbo

By April 4, 2011

Japan (MNN) — Hundreds of Japan's quake survivors are still
huddled together in evacuation centers with no idea when they'll be able to
go home.

No one knows what the future holds for them. With more
crowding and more ambiguity, many are leaving for an equally uncertain future,
but it's more familiar. Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global
explains, "We found that there are a lot of people that are
not in those shelters. They've gone back to their homes. They're staying in
their cars, and there's no electricity and no heat."

"People still want to go back, to start
cleaning up, and to pick up. The problem is: there's nothing there. A house may be still standing, but the power has
not been restored. There's no electricity and heat, and it's still below zero in many of these areas.
65% of those population areas are over 60 years of age."

That's presenting another problem. The oldest members of the communities are
often among the more vulnerable. In humanitarian crises, Palmer says, "If you're not in a shelter and
you ‘re not being cared for, you're kind of in limbo. There's a lot of those
areas that we're finding and we're mobilizing help to them."

BGR has a partner on the ground. "One of the things
that we've been able to do is find ways to be able to get hot meals, warm
clothing, and sanitary needs to those people who are without electricity and

They've already launched a feeding program for 3,000 with
the help of a national partner. However,
the needs are quickly outstripping their supplies and know-how. BGR
is training local partners on how to develop long-range plans, administer them,
and deal with the other logistics of response.

It's an absolute necessity to answer the ever-changing
situation, Palmer says. "The feeding program
is going through a local partner of 3,000 meals a day. We're going to be helping them to increase
that to 6,000. You don't just feed 3,000 more people without some
skills and some plans of HOW you do that."

Another advantage to working through the local church partners is
meeting the RIGHT needs. People working
on the ground can communicate specific, if unusual, needs. For example, Palmer says, "One thing we're
doing is helping distribute long underwear. With the elderly people being
affected, it's one thing that is being requested by people on the ground."

And then comes the clean up. First, there's the physical part: "Eventually,
we'll be helping with clean out teams and training them: how do you go back and
recover such a widespread devastated area? How do you clean out? How do you mud out?" 

Then, the emotional: "This week, we're doing training and
equipping in grief and trauma counseling. We're trying to train Japanese spiritual
leaders. They're fatigued also. A lot of these folks are trying to shepherd and
care for their people, and they've lost family. They've lost houses. "

Why? "Basically, the Gospel goes from person to
person. It doesn't go from a project. It doesn't go from just food and water. Those things
are important, but it's the people that we are working with, that are followers
of Christ, that are showing the compassion of Christ, that are ministering and
giving that cup of cold water, giving that word of Hope."

Damages to the area are estimated to cost hundreds of billions of
dollars. BGR needs funds to get behind
their national partners. You can help. Follow the link in the sidebar.

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