2 Years After the Tsunami: Minami Sanriku Shizugawa Lions Club

It took minutes for the tsunami and earthquake on March 11, 2011, to devastate Japan. Two years later, communities remain in tatters. Three Lions clubs were particularly devastated. This is the story of the Minami Sanriku Shizugawa Lions Club. Almost all 36 members of the club lost both their homes and workplaces.

The torrent of water washed away precious recipes for his cakes, breads and pastries. Working strictly from memory, Lion Yuichi Abe reopened his cake shop in a temporary strip mall a year ago. As club president, he spends many hours networking with Lions from other towns who offer aid. He says he struggles between feeling grateful for the support and the stress of meeting his responsibilities as a shop keeper and a Lions leader.

After a nine-month delay, the Minami Sanriku Shizugawa Lions Club held its 50th charter celebration last April. The club invited Lions from clubs throughout Japan that had traveled to their town to help. Nearly 300 Lions attended. The tsunami was sadly ironic for the club, which was initially organized to provide assistance to Chili after a terrible earthquake and tsunami there.

In the year after the disaster, residents were determined to show a strong resolve. As time passed by, harsh reality sunk in. The town’s population was 18,000 before the disaster and perhaps less than 12,000 now with many moving away to find better employment and housing opportunities.

As time moves forward, so does recovery efforts in Japan and Lions’ efforts to aid their communities. Read the full story of all three Lions clubs online and in the upcoming May LION Magazine.

Editor’s Note

Adapted from a story from the Japanese LION.

Lions Clubs International Foundation mobilized more than US$21 million for Japan relief efforts thanks to LCIF grants and donations from Lions worldwide. Among other projects, LCIF helped Lions provide equipment and supplies to support victims who were relocated to transitional housing; provide major medical equipment for hospitals, including a full-body radiation detection unit, ophthalmology equipment and an x-ray machine; and assistance for an economic revival project.

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