Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Letter From the Salesian Sisters in Japan

Here is a report from our Salesian Sisters on the ground in Japan. This was forwarded to us by Sister Ann Cassidy, FMA.

If there is one group you can be sure will be working day and night as long as they can draw breath it is the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. God bless them!

"As we see in the news, the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan has created a situation of crisis in the country. We have 15 mission sites in Japan. Our sisters run 9 schools, various youth centers, social ministries, immigrant outreach, etc. In one of our schools all students got stranded and the sisters are taking care of all their needs since the roads and accesses were destroyed.

Sr. Marisa Gambato, provincial secretary of the Japanese province wrote telling us how they are living these days and what the general situation is like.

«The earthquakes continue and are fairly serious. Many people are still isolated, and a stronger quake is feared (or foreseen?) here in Tokyo . At this very moment in which I am writing to you I feel a tremor. It is the second in just fifteen minutes.

We are living these hours in the fear that something else will happen. For this reason we are praying that if it must happen, it may not be while the pupils are in school.

We are living in fear. Television transmissions continue to show and talk about the numbers of victims, injured, homeless, people who are isolated, the danger of nuclear reactors and many other things.

One of our Sisters had no news of her parents and so did not know what had happened to them. However, just half an hour ago she was able to communicate with them and know that they, too, are out of danger.

It is the same for relations of other Sisters, past pupils and friends. The Bishop of the diocese of Sendai cannot be reached.

Here in Tokyo , the situation has returned to normal. The day of the first the
earthquake, all public transport stopped and the city and its surroundings were paralysed. Even trains between different cities had stopped.

One of our Sisters was out of the house in the afternoon, when the earthquake took place. She had to walk home and arrived at 1:30am. She was not the only one walking and so was not afraid. Many people had to do the same thing.

The situation of our pupils and their families is not a cause for worry, but we are thinking of the many children and old people in emergency shelter, in gyms or halls, all together: men, women, children and the elderly, etc., lacking everything. Water and food is being distributed, but it seems that, at times, they have to wait for hours before what they need arrives.

We are organising ourselves to collect money. We have been asked by Caritas Japan and other government and non government organisations to collect funds. It is the best way to help for the moment. As for volunteering, it is still impossible to think of anything. For now the military and specialist groups who are coming from other countries are what is needed. Many areas can only be reached by helicopter, and some not even by that means. One of the ways of collaborating is the sense of bearing things of the people in difficulty.

At the airport of Sendai 1,300 people are still waiting for help. The State is moving, but roads are interrupted in various places. Whole villages have disappeared.

The government is not asking for anything from the citizens except to remain calm and avoid exposing themselves to danger. Since it is possible that there may be further earthquakes they should be ready to escape to safe places. I do not know if Japan is different from other countries, but the people have a great ability to bear things and so do not get discouraged easily. I tell all those who ask about Japan to continue to pray».

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