A message for my UK friends who want to help Japan

As I was tossing and turning and unable to sleep last night and wondering just what to do to help, the answer finally came to me. I am here in Saipan but can’t stay here forever and new friends have offered me a bed in Australia. I don’t feel that I should go back home to Japan just yet for a wide variety of reasons none of which I want to be judged for thanks very much (I’ve been giving myself a hard enough time for not being there and don’t need it from anyone else). If I go back to Japan right now what do I do? Is anyone out there really panicking because my magazines aren’t yet out or my book about Japanese men isn’t finished? I don’t think so.

I can give speeches, I am persuasive, I can write, and I don’t like the word “no.” Those skills have to be helpful in this situation somehow. This is what I’m doing ….

I am going to drive a truck around the UK giving talks to schools and any other communities about how wonderful Japan is and all the reasons why I love it, and fill that truck with food, clothes, toys, money, and whatever else the people of Japan need in order to rebuild their lives. Virgin Atlantic will help me get it to Japan, and I will arrange for it to get to where it is needed. This is what feels like the right thing for me to do at the moment.

I spent today running around Saipan trying to organize flights, contact lenses (on my last day today!), and heparin injection. Unbelievably I managed to get a doctor to prescribe me with heparin without any of my documents — thank you for making that so simple! Contact lenses were another matter altogether would you believe. I’ve got a 3:30am flight to Seoul tomorrow morning, then a flight to Shanghai. I’ll be in Shanghai for 24 hours before taking a Virgin flight to the UK, landing at 4:30pm Sunday. During that 24 hour time in Shanghai I hope to organize a truck ready for when I arrive at Heathrow. Here is what I think I need:

  • a big white truck (category C1 on a UK driving license) with a full tank
  • red and black paint to go on the outside of the truck (whatever kind of paint that should be)
  • either satnav or a road map
  • a UK mobile phone
  • my first school/community group to visit on Monday, not too far from Heathrow if possible and ideally heading South West
  • any publicity possible

That’s all I can think of right now. I’ll play it all by ear and keep you posted.

I am sad to leave Saipan — everyone here has been lovely. Donation boxes in stores all over town are overflowing, the Hard Rock Café are all wearing special stickers on their t-shirts, Wednesday’s night’s hash run had time to think about Christchurch/Brisbane/Japan, and everyone is genuinely upset. I have been really taken care of by so many new friends — Renata who gave me her triathlon flower crown, Alan and Julia who offered me their home in Australia, the staff here who offered me their homes if I needed them, the fire fighters who took care of me on high ground, Nora who gave me a lifeline through which to contact loved ones while I waited for what we thought would be a huge wall of water to just swallow us, and my dear friend Duane who has made it his personal mission to keep me sane when I would have gone nuts during a week where I have faced the possibility of losing my husband, dogs, home, business, friends, and country all in one go.

I am even sadder to not be going home to Japan — not because of radiation concerns and not because of the media (CNN’s coverage has been disgusting and I don’t know how any parents with children — even adult ones — in Japan have managed to cope) but because I just don’t feel like I can be of any help at all there right now. “Going about normal business” is most definitely not something I would encourage anyone else to do although I respect that this is some people’s ways of dealing with situations like this. It isn’t mine. I alternate between feeling numb and feeling terribly emotional when I see the images of the people in Japan and what they are coping with. And at the same time uplifted by stories of babies being born by flashlight, old men being rescued at sea, and dogs staying beside injured friends. OF COURSE Japan will recover, both practically and spiritually. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need a bit of help along the way.

So …. My England friends — you’ve been asking me how you can help. Now you can.

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