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'Ganbaro’ keeps spirits high

Caritas Japan says words of encouragement keep quake survivors going

Sony company building and smashed cars by tsunami (photo courtesy of Caritas Japan) Sony company building and smashed cars by tsunami (photo courtesy of Caritas Japan)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • March 23, 2011
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Struggling earthquake and tsunami survivors in the Japanese city of Sendai are keeping their spirits high with words of encouragement such as “ganbaro,” which means “let’s do our best,” according to recent reports by Caritas Japan.

Caritas Corea yesterday released two reports sent by Father Daisuke Narui, executive director of Caritas Japan, after he visited Sendai last week to assess the situation there.

Sendai was the worst-hit city when the huge earthquake and tsunami struck the north east coast of Japan on March 11.

In his first report dated March 16, Father Narui said Bishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, president of Caritas Japan, met Bishops Martin Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai and Marcellinus Daiji Tani of neighboring Saitama to discuss how to best use donations from around the world and to establish a task force to support disaster victims.

According to Father Narui, buildings in Sendai city itself have remained intact despite the quake and tsunami.  But scenes are totally different nearer the coast where the tsunami destroyed towns and villages, and left everything covered in mud.

In his second report dated March 18, Father Narui said Sendai had many evacuees from areas neighboring the Fukushima nuclear plant and that parishes in Saitama diocese have provided shelter for them.

Caritas Japan was coordinating with the parishes to provide food and blankets for them, but it was difficult to buy food there father Narui lamented, saying a soup kitchen had almost run out of food.

He also said that there were people staying in the shelters even though their houses had survived the disaster. He said they were afraid of the aftershocks and didn't want to be left alone.

Noting survivors would be suffering from trauma, Father Narui said Caritas Japan was seeking counselors who could help them.

People keep saying “ganbaro” to their neighbors, his report ended, as a way of encouraging each other.

KO13722.1646
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