When I heard about the quake and tsunami that hit Japan last week, I instantly thought of my friend Aoi.
Aoi Kamiya is a foreign exchange student from Aichi, Japan who stayed with my grandparents in New England. For about two weeks last summer, she visited us on our Florida farm. Aoi could only speak a little English at the time, and I couldn’t speak any Japanese, but we still quickly became friends. She taught me Origami and a little Japanese and although I was very sad when she had to leave, we exchanged emails and have kept in touch.
So when I heard the terrible news, I emailed her right away to ask if she was okay.
After two anxious days waiting for her reply, she finally responded. She was at school when the tsunami struck Japan and was one of the lucky ones who stayed dry. Although she was not in the tsunami she did feel the quakes where she was, and she told me all about it.
"We did not have the damage in the place where I lived in. However, Japan is in a serious state. The damage is in particular big in Japanese Tohoku." She also said, "A lot of houses and cars and people were washed down in Japan. I felt very terrible. I thought that Japan might sink."
At that time, she knew at least 5,000 people had died or lost their homes. The death toll has now passed 7,000 and will probably go much higher. More than 10,000 have been reported missing.
She continued, "Japan is desolate very much now. Because the damage by the Japanese earthquake is because an earthquake is not yet relieved greatly in Japanese Tohoku. In the place where I live in, an earthquake is taking place frequently recently. My family is safe. Thank you for worrying about us."
I was very glad to know that she and her family were okay and I felt much better, although I was still devastated to know so many innocent people had died. I wrote her back to tell how glad I was to know she was safe.
Today is Aoi’s birthday, and I have a birthday wish for her.
I hope that Japan recovers quickly, and that Aoi and her family can celebrate this birthday – and many more – in safety.