Four Years Ago

IMG_9502Today, March 11th 2015, marks the fourth year anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake.

The Japan News reports that as of yesterday, Tuesday 10th March 2015, 2,584 people remaining missing as a direct result of the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

The National Police Agency of Japan document that 15, 891 people throughout twelve prefectures in Japan perished due to this disaster.

Nadia volunteer cleaning the exterior of a private home

Although huge efforts have been undertaken throughout these last four years to rebuild Eastern Japan and the area of Tohoku, almost 229,00 people still live as evacuees with a high number having been unable to secure permanent housing since the earthquake destroyed their housing or rendered their homes uninhabitable.

Koss & Cara cleaning mud out of a fishery, Ishinomaki 2011

Koss & Cara cleaning mud out of a fishery, Ishinomaki 2011

Last year, I interviewed community volunteers who entered the regions of Tohoku to help rebuild the area after the destruction of the earthquake and the tsunami.  Their work continues today.


When I reflected on my experiences and the lives lost through the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake last year in 2014, I recounted the words of the poet Mary Frye. One year later, I still cannot find other words except these same ones when I remember the lives lost and my personal experiences of grief and death –

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.


Four years after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and almost forty years after the downfall of Saigon and the eventful days of April 30th 1975 of the Vietnam War, however, I think about Faith and the words of the Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Bengali poet ~

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

For many of us, and particularly those who remain homeless because of the tsunami and those who may still mourn loved ones due to war and natural calamity, it may still be a dark time, but the dawn will surely come and the sun will surely rise.

IMG_5791This is the Promise of Nature.

This is the Cycle of Life.




The Japan News, page 1, Wednesday 11th March, 2015.

Photo credits:

Nadia Volunteer cleaning the exterior of a private home – Laureline Gatellier

Cara & Koss cleaning mud out of a fisherie – Cara Phillips

All other images by Trang Nguyen @

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