Certain images remain with you for years–some because of their beauty others because of their emotional impact, some for both reasons. Steve McCurry’s Afghan girl remains fixating today… Kevin Carter’s shot of a vulture stalking a baby won him both international acclaim and criticism. Images can sum up a tragedy in ways that words never will manage. When I think of domestic terrorism, I think of a firefighter cradling a lifeless baby in Oklahoma City. Some images effect me more now that I have my own children. When I think of Fukashima, I think of a little girl. A little girl about the same age as my own Laura. A little girl holding a Winnie the Pooh teddy bear. A little girl who has just lost her mother, her siblings, her home but not her father, not her Pooh. She is holding Pooh with an iron grip. I sometimes wonder where she is today. I hope she and her father are reconstructing their lives. I have faith in the resilience of people. I believe in the power of hope. I also believe in the power of small actions and the importance of surprises.
Our 24/7 information society fills us with images of one tragedy until another one takes it place and the first one is “forgotten.” It’s been a little over six months since Friday, 11 March 2011; the day when Japan experienced the worst disaster in its history since the end of World War II. As if the earthquake and tsunami were not enough, the nuclear repercussions added to the destruction. Through Postcrossing, I recently learned about a volunteer group which delivers postcards, letters, and little gifts to the people of Tohoku, Japan, one of the many areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. B-island, a Japanese Postcrosser and teacher, is collecting postcards with her class as part of their project. They are accepting postcards, notes, etc written in English and are translating the messages and then sending them on to the volunteer group above for delivery to Tohoku. When I read about her classes project, I knew it was for me. Along with Laura and Elise, I picked out a little sweater dress and a package of socks to go with our card. I couldn’t stop thinking about the little girl while we wrote the message.
This weekend, her class will be presenting their project at the school fair. They are hoping that the visitors to the fair will also write notes/postcards to send to Tohoku. I hope they are successful! Rebuilding is a long process, rarely the subject of TV news reports and easily “overlooked” by the media. If you have a little bit of time, sit down and write a card to the people of Tohoku–if you want/need more information, just ask me and I will steer you in the right direction. When I chose a postcard for this post, I wanted one that symbolized hope and rebirth to me–look at this mountain covered in flowers and let the optimism in!