NY1 Reports: Volunteers From Around The Globe Help Japan's Most Damaged Regions
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The horrific video stemming from Japan's earthquake and tsunami one year ago touched a nerve with people worldwide, and volunteers are still picking up the pieces from Japan's devastated regions and still have a long road to recovery. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
In Tokyo, volunteers hit the roads and rails to help those in need. Among them are workers from Barclays Capital who head north on Japan's bullet train to areas devastated by the tsunami. For nearly a year, many of the bank's employees have been pitching in to help clean up communities and restore lives, and they say they're in it for the long haul.
"Having a three-year commitment, long-term commitment, therefore we are able to build a relationship with local people," said Barclays Capital Japan Chief Operating Officer Koichi Hasegawa.
A ride on Japan's bullet train shows much of the country's beautiful landscape, making it devastating for many to think there is still a lot of rebuilding to do a year after the tsunami.
The bank employees said they do not have the skills to build houses, but they have helped remove a lot of debris. Perhaps just as important, the volunteers have recovered photos and other cherished items from all of the rubble for families struck by the disaster.
Now, the bank volunteers focus on education and emotional healing, especially for families placed in temporary housing units.
"We spend time with them, teaching them English and how to use computers," said Hasegawa.
Lauren McMurray of Austin, Texas is doing her part. She said she just had to come to Japan to help out after the earthquake, although it took a few months.
"I didn't have the funds to come here and there was nothing set up to receive the volunteers at the time. But as soon as possible, when I had the opportunity, I kind of quit everything and came here," said McMurray.
She went to college in Japan and had a job in the country for a while, making it easier for her to decide to come back during a difficult time.
"Japan was like my second home, and something had happened to my second home," said McMurray. "And I had to be a part of restoring that for being a part of helping these people that had been so kind to me."
Now McMurray is returning the favor by volunteering. She has also taken a job as a teacher and plans on calling Japan home for a while.