Tohoku Disaster Fundraiser

On Saturday March 19, through social networking and word of mouth, members of Namban Rengo brought together some 80 people to run or walk laps around the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery to raise funds to help relieve the plight of the people of disaster-struck Tohoku. Through the power of running, we raised over 600,000 yen. Great work Namban and the runners and triathletes of Tokyo and their friends!

On Friday the 11th of March 2011 at 2:46 pm Japan time, a 9.0M earthquake and the tsunami it triggered devastated the northern prefectures of the Japanese main island of Honshu. Entire towns on the Pacific coast were washed away. Some 10 days later the death toll is unclear, but is estimated to be in the vicinity of 10,000 to 20,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and loved ones. Lifelines are totally disrupted. The government and aid agencies have scrambled to provide search and rescue as well as relief operations, but the scale of the disaster was so overwhelming that recovery will take many years, and some places may never return to their former self.

In Tokyo we were shaken in our buildings and our lives have been disturbed by the quake and its consequences. But with electricity rationing and shortages of supermarket lines and gasoline, the worst that most of us have experienced is some loss of convenience. Our hearts, however, were heavy with the knowledge of the suffering in the north. Television images through Friday night and Saturday following the quake left us in no doubt about the scale of the disaster. But we were powerless to help.

Or were we?

On Saturday November 19, through social networking and word of mouth, members of Namban Rengo brought together some 80 people to run or walk laps around the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery to raise funds to help relieve the plight of the people of Tohoku. Participants were asked to pledge an amount for each lap completed, and were able to bring sponsorship. Many supporters also pledged donations to this fund-raising event. Starting the organizing on Wednesday the 16th, we spread the word through our own club, through Facebook, and though the mailing lists of several other groups. Apart from members of Namban Rengo, Harriers provided great support as did a number of triathletes and unaffiliated citizens who walked and ran their way towards helping the people of Tohoku.

As a result of our combined efforts we raised an amazing 600,000 yen. This money will be divided between the Japan Red Cross, Medicins sans Frontiers, and other groups working on the front line to assist survivors.

Namban’s warm and heartfelt thanks go out to all concerned.

Tohoku Fundraiser
            Participants point toward Tohuku