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Gambatte ShelterBox!

Young ShelterBox is delighted to publish the first winning article of our ShelterBox Journo scheme. ShelterBox Journo offers young people the fantastic opportunity to develop their journalist skills and write for the website of an international disaster relief charity! To find out more about how you can get involved, please click here.

This month’s winning article was written by Vee Tames who wrote the following piece to summarise our work in Japan. Young ShelterBox would also like to congratulate Vee (pictured) and everyone else who entered, providing us with some fantastic articles to choose from. 

In Japanese Gambatte means “Go for it!” – and in Japan ShelterBox is going for it!

On March 11 2011, north - east Japan was struck by an 8.9 (later upgraded to 9.0) magnitude earthquake. Minutes later, huge stretches of its coastline were destroyed by a massive tsunami – thousands of homes were swept off the map, leaving many people homeless. The number of those injured still continues to rise. Recent figures from OHCA (United Nation’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) say there have been nearly 9,000 confirmed deaths and a further 13,000 people missing.

Within 24 hours, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) was in country, ready to help vulnerable groups affected by the disaster. Since arriving in Japan, the SRT has been co-ordinating its efforts with the British Embassy and the British and U.S militaries.

The SRT have been working in the Iwate Prefecture and have sent out relief to towns like Rikuzentakata and Ofunato - two towns which faced the full destructive power of the giant wave. According to reports from Rikuzentakata, more than 80% of the 8,000 houses were swept away. The town was well prepared against earthquakes and tsunamis, but its 6.5 metre high seawall was proved no match for the sheer force of the torrent.

Altogether there have been over 350,000 people living in emergency evacuation centres throughout the country and there still aren’t enough supplies to provide for everyone.

Authorities from the Prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima say their priority requirements are fuel, temporary shelters, food and medicine.

ShelterBox International Director and SRT member Lasse Peterson said: “We’re being very pro-active in our response, and equally the Japanese Government is being very effective in coping with the situation. Given the sheer scale of the disaster, we’re on hand to help where we can and fulfil the unmet needs the authorities have identified.”

ShelterBox are doing great things in Japan and things are slowly improving. The only thing we can do now is say “Gambatte ShelterBox!” and support their disaster relief work – wherever in the world it may be.