September 11, 2011

***Reflections: Six Months After***

This Sunday, September 11, marks two important dates: the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks in the United States and the 6-month mark after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11.

As we reflect on these two solemn anniversaries, we would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your continued support of the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief & Recovery Fund. Over the past six months, roughly $900,000 has been committed, an amount that is far beyond our expectations. Of this, $304,000 has already been distributed to six organizations carrying out emergency relief, and we have earmarked the additional funds to support the long-term recovery of communities throughout the region. Donations continue to be vital, and any additional funds we raise will continue to support these long-term efforts.

Six months after the disaster, it is clear that it will take many years for the hardest-hit communities to rebuild and their needs will remain immense. After consultations with a wide range of local citizens, officials, and experts in the disaster zone, we have decided to focus our future funding on three areas that are crucial to the long-term recovery: 1) economic revitalization, 2) rebuilding community ties, and 3) supporting senior citizens. We are targeting organizations that are not likely to receive sufficient funding from other sources, with the hope of playing a catalytic role, and will be announcing the initial recipients in the coming months.

The JCIE team has been making regular visits to the Tohoku region, and several of us just returned from a trip this weekend to talk with organizations that are undertaking innovative initiatives. In these trips, we have been struck not just by the extent of the devastation, but also by the extraordinary efforts of ordinary citizens to rebuild their ravaged towns. In some places, clean-up efforts have been so successful that the physical damage appears to be much less than even one or two months ago. However, the less visible but more difficult work of revitalizing the economy, reconstituting community ties, and coping with personal loss still lies ahead.

Each person we have met in these visits is uniformly and profoundly grateful for the support and caring they have received from people around the world. Collectively, we are making a real difference in the renewal and rebuilding of these communities, and we thank you for being a part of this important effort.

Many thanks,

Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)