When the earthquake and following tsunami occurred in Japan, I immediately began to worry about the lives of the people and was afraid to even think of the numbers missing. Each day I watched in horror as news filtered out of the devastated country. I had a very good reason to be concerned; my cousin’s daughter- in- law and 6 week old grandson were amongst the missing. Her son was anxiously waiting for word either from Hanai or about Hanai. His son, Kai, was born two weeks after the expected delivery date and Kieran had returned to Canada to go back to work after spending the holidays with his wife and hoping she would deliver his first born while he was in Japan. Kai’s Canadian passport was to be picked up two days after the earthquake and they were planning on flying to Vancouver shortly thereafter.
We endured four days of worry before Kieran heard from Hanai. They were okay; they were in a shelter and were going to try to get back home. They had no idea what they would find. Hanai and her family lived 14 miles from the coast and approximately 90 miles from Fukishema. Kieran received a phone call from Hanai once she was at home; a home with things thrown about, some dishes and other items broken, but the house was intact. It was a newer home than others in the demolished neighbourhood. Hanai reported she had two cans of formula and a week’s supply of diapers. So now another worry; would she be able to buy the things necessary for a 6 week old baby. Kieran and his mom set about to send parcels to her. FedEx took one parcel saying they had no idea when it would be delivered. The post office took another parcel saying there was no guarantee it would get to its destination intact. Hanai had no electricity, no water and they were running out of staples. People had to stand in line for hours to get into stores only to find the store had run out of what they were going to purchase.
Hanai was unable to obtain the Canadian passport for Kai but did get a Japanese one. Kieran flew to Tokyo on March 21 not knowing if he would be able to get to where Hanai and Kai were living. He had to take two buses and he saw his son for the first time, other than on-line. They had return tickets for March 25 and travelled for a day before getting Tokyo where they boarded the plan for Vancouver.
I was relieved to hear my family members were safely in Canada but what about the thousands in Japan. I cried when I saw the elderly gentleman saying all his family was gone. I cried when I saw the mass graves, little children not knowing where their parents were and not understanding why they were with strangers. What could I, one woman, do to help. I heard about snow and cold and saw hundreds of people crushed into a shelter and saw pictures of the adults trying to amuse the children. I am a quilter and in Princeton we have a small group of ladies who make wonderful quilts for traumatized children. I knew we had a surplus of quilts and I also knew we could quickly put together another supply in one sewing day. I thought what a great idea it would be to be able to ship quilts to Japanese people. As they snuggled under them, they would know that the world is thinking about them. They are not alone in their struggle.
I began searching on the internet and I found a lady, Bev Rogan, who lives in Calgary. She had decided to do something for the Japanese people too. I found a link on facebook and contacted her. Bev was asking for quilts to be donated to the people in Japan and the responses from other quilters was amazing. She began looking for a sponsor for shipping costs. Her son set up a website for her, www.quiltsforjapan.ca., and her idea went viral. I think she is surprised at the outpouring of donations from all over western Canada. She has been in touch with CRASH Japan; (Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope) who are going to be distributing the quilts. You can read more about CRASH on their website, www.crashjapan.com.
I had found my answer. I quickly contacted members of the Bunchgrass Quilters and we agreed to send children’s quilts. I picked out 25 quilts and today they will go on a greyhound bus to Calgary. From there, Bev has arranged for the quilts to be shipped to Abilene, Texas. Thanks go to Tundra Boiler & Instrumentation for covering the transport costs. From Abilene the quilts will go to Japan with Global Samaritan Resources. Larry Muscik, CEO of Global Samaritan, assured Bev that all the quilts will reach the destination.
If anyone has a quilt they would like to donate, check out the website, www.quiltsforjapan.ca for the information. I would like to heartfully thank the members of Bunchgrass Quilters for helping me with this project. I would also like to issue a friendly challenge to all other quilters out there to make and donate quilts for Japan.