When a torrent of water swept over much of Queensland this summer I was able to assist the people affected, in a small way, by donating books to Writers on Rafts and the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. It wasn’t the same as donning the gumboots and helping with the clean-up but it was something.
Watching the Japan disaster left me feeling helpless and torn on several levels. The devastation was immense. The repercussions unthinkable. As mentioned in a previous post, I have flights booked to Tokyo in 10 week’s time. Part of me still thinks we should turn up and help the locals by spending tourist dollars. Another part has a deep fear of nuclear radiation/fallout/pollution that dates back to the ’80s and movies like The Day After*. I’d never forgive myself if my family travelled to Tokyo and my children’s health suffered in any way.
Besides, friends told me a recent flight from Tokyo to Melbourne had to detour to Osaka just to collect bottled water and meals. If things are that grim in Tokyo I believe tourists should stay away for the time being and let the locals try to achieve some form of normality, rather than placing extra demands on a very polite and generous population.
So, what can I do to help? I’ve purchased the Songs for Japan fundraising album, which is a start. I’m also keeping an eye out for Quakebook which is a collection of stories from around the globe about the personal impact of the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear emergency. The graphic novel written about the residents of New Orleans after Cyclone Katrina was extremely powerful. I suspect Quakebook will be similarly moving – and a reminder of how stories connect us across countries and cultures.
In the meantime, here’s a song written for Japan that has become the Quakebook theme.
*Little wonder Cormac McCarthy’s The Road gave me nightmares.