AMURT starts relief to Japan earthquake evacuees

Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT/AMURTEL) arrived from Taiwan to help Japan earthquake evacuees.

AMURT & AMURTEL Japan Relief Work Report for 26 March

Another day has come and gone in cold, snowy Tohoku and our spirits are higher than ever. Every shelter visited, every home cleaned, every connection made, every smile exchanged have confirmed the difference we can make here.

At the Tagajo Volunteer Center, we shared our intent to focus our efforts on the Shichigahama area due to the relocation of part of our team there. While not necessary, this short visit to the Center was important to us in order to maintain the good relationships we had established there. We still plan on providing a helping hand in Tagajo from time to time.

Two groups were formed both in the morning and in the afternoon to visit different refugee centers. As language remains a barrier for most of us, we found creative ways to break the ice and reach out to people. A loving heart speaks a universal language! Through these efforts we had the chance to meet some wonderful people, some of whom had lost everything but the treasures they hold inside. It was an inspiring lesson of courage for each and every one of us.

These people included a number of elderly people: Watanabe-san, a lonely, weak woman who shared her only smile of the morning when treated to a massage by Dada Karunamaya, and who gladly accepted a few power bars I was carrying in my backpack; Masaya-san, now homeless, who touched the team by sharing his story; Shōji-san, whose former neighborhood now bears the toll of 40 dead and 40 still missing; or Kimura-san who, after opening her heart to me and letting me enjoy her shiny personality even in difficult times, waved me goodbye beaming, with an excited “tomodachi!!” (“[We’re] friends!”).

Children were not left out as many seem to quite enjoy our presence and are very receptive to our team. At our new home – the Shichigahama International Center – a group of young boys, ages 13 to 18, gladly joined us for an exciting game of soccer. Even Suzuki-san, an aged man whose house is now down to pieces of wood scattered all over the place, came out running and laughing with everyone. Later, as I sat down in the main lounge reflecting on my day, these young men –and Suzuki-san!– recognized me even without my flashy orange uniform and came to sit with me. We spent the evening chatting, laughing, forgetting about the reality outside the Center for just a few hours. It didn’t take long before I had them committed to joining our team to clean up homes in the area, as they marveled over the fact that they could join the (in their own words) “cool orange team”!

A few interesting developments in our work: Didi Sarvajina arranged to teach some yoga lessons at one of the volunteer centers after a woman eagerly expressed interest. We also obtained a thankful recognition from the Governor of Miyagi, Yoshihiro Murai. Mr. Murai was visiting a refugee camp as we were talking to victims, and thanked us warmly for our efforts.

What we got out of many of the conversations we enjoyed today is best summed up by the story of Katsuya-san, who lost everything he owned in the tsunami yet could not think of any items we could provide to help. The truth is, the Japanese are incredibly stoic people who endure hardships with an admirable level of self-respect and bravery. What they need now it seems, is not tangible items. It is the presence of someone who loves, someone who listens, someone who cares. The survivors of the tsunami have blankets, but they need people to warm up their gloomy outlook to the future and give them hope. They have food, but they need people to nurture their hearts. They are surrounded with other human beings, but they need someone willing to stop and hear their story, someone who cares. This is where we hope to make a difference as we pursue our two-fold approach of visiting shelters and helping with the clean-up efforts.

I am doing exactly what I came here to do and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the efforts AMURT/AMURTEL is setting forward in a country that I hold particularly close to my heart.

Sabine Thompson

In Japan the confirmed death toll from the disaster has risen above 10,000. About 380,000 people are currently still in temporary shelters, many sleeping on the floor of school gymnasiums.

The government in the Sendai welcomed the offer from AMURT to begin relief work and appreciate the experience that they bring from other disasters in Haiti and Indonesia etc. The AMURT team arrived Sendai and started relief work.

Our AMURT team in Japan are dedicated and committed to providing whatever services they can to the refugees lacking basic human needs.

Thank you for all your support and best wishes.

All donations to AMURT Japan Relief will go straight to our relief team on the ground.

Please contribute now by donating online at:

Thank you,

Dada Yogananda
AMURT Coordinator
Hong Kong Sector (Northeast Asia)