Katrina, Australian, Female, Tokyo
“On that fateful day I was teaching some private students, three Japanese ladies, all in their sixties, in Tokyo. They were visibly scared, saying it was the worst earthquake they had ever felt. Thinking that they had had a lot of experience of earthquakes through their collective lives I knew this was serious.
However, it wasn’t until I reached the station, that I realised the severity of the situation. It was through a phone conversation with my sister back in Australia that I was able to start to understand. She had far more news than I had, and had seen images that I was yet to see. I remember making a comment to which she responded in a way that revealed to me that I really didn’t have any idea just how dreadful the situation was.
That night, not knowing what to do, and being too far from home to walk I headed for the office of one of the animal shelters that I support. It was fortuitous that I had done quite a bit of dog walking in the past in that area so I knew the roads. If I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have had any idea as to the location of the office.I spent an uncomfortable and cold night sleeping on the floor. Of course that was nothing in light of the bigger picture. I was simply grateful to have a place to go. For the first time, the animal shelter provided my shelter.
Naturally, being involved in animal welfare, my thoughts immediately turned to the animal victims of the disaster. They are always the forgotten ones. And this is where my story really begins.
From March 12th until the present Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS), which I joined on that day, has continued to assist animals and their guardians impacted by the disaster. It has been, and continues to be, a hard slog with challenges thrown in constantly. At times our work is fraught with disappointment, sadness and disbelief. However, we are encouraged by the wonderful international support we have received and the happy re-unions between animals and their guardians, while the simple drive to make this a better place for animals pushes us forward everyday.
The memory of the scenes of destruction I saw up in Tohoku immediately after the earthquake will never leave me. Cars wedged in between headstones in the cemetery, cars turned over on top of three-storey buildings and personal effects strewn over muddy ground. Amongst all the destruction I wondered how all the animals who survived were faring and felt despair for those who lost their lives.
In the last year I have found strengths and abilities I never knew I had, and a tenacity that drives me to go on despite so many setbacks.
With the one-year anniversary approaching animals continue to live in the zone, in foster homes and in our shelters. I pray for each and everyone of them, and their guardians, to live the lives that are rightfully theirs’.
This has been my experience of the earthquake, a dedication to those who are so often overlooked and yet are always the most innocent – our four-legged friends…the animals.”
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