A couple days ago, an acquaintance on a forum I frequent suggested offering Hawaii as a place where displaced Japanese families can take refuge. In her own words:
Since the resource base in Sendai and other hard hit tsunami areas is going to be depleted for awhile, instead of sending resources to the disaster struck people there, do you think it would be a good idea to relocate some of the people here? If there was a fund for airfare for anyone in Japan who had any friends or relatives in Hawaii, then the homeless people could be relocated over to here until their community was repaired. Not all the folks in the areas would be useful for the cleanup process, but the elders and children especially could be relocated. If they were staying with family or friends, it would be a comfortable transition for them.
What a great idea. I’ve been mulling it over non-stop since. Even been floating the idea past everyone I know. To my surprise I’ve gotten lots of blank stares and looks of concerned sympathy. (That I’ve lost my mind?)
Then the next day the same poster–who calls herself “Chooks”–followed up with this idea:
“…Instead of getting government agencies involved, perhaps you could use social media to let any Japanese families or folks know there are spaces available for them here and let the folks with spaces available talk to the folks who need a place to go.”
How would you match up spaces with folks needing a place to go? Perhaps a forum somewhere that lets them meet up? Dunno how you’d get the spaces paid for, though. Well, there’s details to work out but it’s probably easier to take the people to the resources than the resources to the people.
Once again her idea was spot on, at least in my mind. But based on the reactions I was getting from friends and acquaintances, I started thinking that perhaps we were alone in the world. (“John the Baptist cryin’ in the wind!”, as an old friend from the South used to say.)
So yesterday on a whim, I decided to google “Hawaii home-stays for Japan”, and lo and behold, I found the Aloha Initiative. Exactly what Chooks proposed!
If you want to help Japan in a tangible way (other than donating money) check out this site. It’s a wonderful idea and kudos to the organization’s founders for putting this initiative together in such a timely manner. Already signed up and offered to host a family, as well as help them promote the cause.
Appreciate any thoughts on how we can get the Big Island on board and promote the cause locally. Please spread the word!
Mahalo to Keith Powers, Michiko Ishida-Powers, Keith Regan and Lynn Araki-Regan for putting this initiative together.
Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2011