One Month after the Disaster: Volunteer Ministers Help Japan Look to the Future
On March 11, the Scientology Volunteer Ministers mobilized a team to assess the damage caused by last month's 9.0 earthquake and the tsunami to determine how to proceed with the disaster response. Four Volunteer Minister groups deployed to the northeast of Japan to help survivors in Kesennuma (photo) and other areas in the Miyagi Prefecture. A team of Taiwanese Volunteer Ministers fly in to help the survivors of the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami. A team of Taiwanese Volunteer Ministers fly in to help the survivors of the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami. Within 24 hours of the disaster a team of Los Topos Mexican search and rescue specialists gathered in Mexico City to work out logistics for their travel to Japan (funded by the Volunteer Ministers). Many of the Los Topos personnel have trained as Volunteer Ministers themselves, and all of them wear the Volunteer Minister symbol on their bright orange uniforms. Los Topos search and rescue experts, transported to Japan by the Scientology Volunteer Ministers Corps. Volunteer Ministers helping survivors in a shelter in Onagawa, Japan. Many of the shelters are located in schools, hospitals and public gyms. Scientology Volunteer Ministers provided Scientology assists in the displaced persons' shelters. Often described as “spiritual first aid,” assists help the individual overcome the effects of loss, shock and trauma speeding recovery. The Sendai team of Scientology Volunteer Ministers—the work is hard but morale is high.
Today, one month after what has become known as Higashi Nihon Daishinsai, "The Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster," some 160,000 displaced persons are still subsisting in makeshift shelters in hundreds of schools, hospitals and public gyms. Scientology Volunteer Ministers have been providing physical and personal relief to survivors for the past month.
Within an hour after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake of March 11, 2011, hit Japan's east coast, staff at the Scientology Volunteer Ministers Los Angeles headquarters began gathering information from volunteers in Japan to plan and coordinate response efforts. Four Volunteer Minister assessment teams mobilized to view firsthand the damage in the Miyagi Prefecture while another team in Tokyo began coordinating logistics for Japanese Volunteer Ministers throughout Japan and those getting ready to travel to the country from abroad.
On March 15, the Los Angeles headquarters arranged the first of two flights to Japan of Los Topos search and rescue specialists, a group that gained international prominence last year with their dramatic rescue of Haiti survivors buried in the rubble of the Port-au-Prince earthquake. After seeing the effectiveness of the Volunteer Ministers Disaster Response Team with whom they worked closely in Haiti, many Los Topos members trained as Volunteer Ministers over the past year. Several of them arrived directly from Christchurch, New Zealand, where they had been rescuing survivors of that city's February earthquake.
Since the disaster struck, the Scientology Volunteer Ministers Japan Disaster Response Team has helped more than 48,000 displaced persons in dozens of shelters distributing food, water and supplies and providing Scientology assists. Assists, often described as "spiritual first aid," help the individual overcome the effects of loss, shock and trauma speeding recovery by addressing the spiritual and emotional factors in illness and injury.
"People here have experienced tremendous loss," said one Japanese Volunteer Minister, "but through Scientology assists they come to terms with what happened to them and start planning for the future."
The official in charge of the Onagawa Town disaster effort expressed his appreciation for the help of the Scientology Disaster Response Team: "I have heard many disaster victims say they feel good, relaxed, relieved from body pain and healed from the trauma of this disaster after this group delivers the technology called 'assists' developed by L. Ron Hubbard."
A Hashikami City Councilor thanked the Volunteer Ministers, saying theirs is a service the Japanese people can find nowhere else.
In shelters in Kesennuma, Onagawa, Watari and Sendai, Volunteer Ministers have delivered well over 7,000 assists, and continue delivering hundreds each day.
"I cannot believe I have received such a helpful service in a time like this," and "it eased the shock of the earthquake," were among the comments overheard in the shelters when assists were being done.
A man whose business was swept away in the tsunami began his assist in sorrow and walked away humming, telling the Volunteer Minister he plans to rebuild his inn as soon as he can.
Several hundred Volunteer Ministers are en route or in the final stages of preparation to volunteer for a month or longer with the Japanese Disaster Response Team.
The Scientology Volunteer Minister program was initiated by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1976. There are now hundreds of thousands of people trained in the skills of a Volunteer Minister across 185 nations.