A Plea for Help for Stricken Japan

By now many of you have seen the horrific earthquake and tsunami devastation of the once beautiful Japanese countryside and fishing villages in Fukushima. I have family ties to that region of Japan so the news really hit home for me. While most of my immediate family are well into being third- and fourth- generation Americans, I personally still have friends and some distant relatives in Japan.

I actually lived in Tokyo for almost two years taking a break from college and it was there I experienced my first earthquake. The good news is my cousin's in-laws, who actually live in proximity of the damaged nuclear reactor, are all right and survived, but the bad news is they lost their entire home and all of their worldly possessions. We will help them get back on their feet but it's such a tragedy that more than 15,000 people are still missing and 350,000 are homeless. (Today, The New York Times quoted local sources saying that 2,000 bodies had washed ashore along the coastline, after being swept out to sea by the tsunami.)

My heart and soul aches for those families who weren't as lucky as my relatives, and my prayers and thoughts go out to all the people of Japan. If you've ever traveled in Japan, you already know that besides being the third-largest economic power in the world, the Japanese people, culture and traditions go back in history for thousands of years. It is indeed a very beautiful country with very hospitable people. What's shocking is that Japan is one of the most prepared countries in the world in terms of natural disaster planning and education; yet no one could ever fathom what happened a few days ago, could ever catch such a well-prepared country like Japan by total surprise.

If you are like me and feeling helpless but want to make a difference, please make donations to the Red Cross organization, which is on the ground providing disaster relief for the survivors of this terrible tragedy. American Airlines is even offering miles if you make donations to the Red Cross via their web link, or you can go to the Red Cross web site where you can donate blood or money or volunteer.

You can do your part like I'm doing mine to help the victims and survivors. It's a sobering reality that, as prepared as we all may be, tragedy can still strike us anywhere when we least expect it. Dig into your heart, soul and wallets--people's lives are depending on us.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.