Following western Japan’s July 2018 floods, with support from United Church of Canada, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and generous individual donors, CWS Japan successfully augmented government and other groups’ response activities by supporting local organizations’ emergency medical operations; information-sharing management among evacuees and, thanks to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a series of weekend camps for children most affected by the floods.
Now, CWS Japan is documenting lessons learned about what might have been more effective disaster risk reduction and preparedness. The aim is to share the learning widely – in Japan’s highly developed country context and in other countries, too, where lessons might also be learned, with understanding of the need for adaptation in less well-development contexts. And, while CWS Japan staff continue sharing time and talent overseas, the question of what more CWS Japan can give in Japan – beyond support for sudden onset disaster response – remains and is one the Board and staff discuss seriously.
Further, since the founding of CWS in 1946 is inextricably linked to Japan’s early recovery after World War II, everyone feels certain there is something more than disaster response and project-based results that CWS can offer in modern Japan. To expand the conversation and thinking about this, the Rev. Douglas Smith, a former colleague from CWS in the United States, visited Japan in mid-November to facilitate this dialogue among CWS Japan staff and the Board members. The visit was made possible by Mr. Kaneko of Kaneko & Associates, who is a long-time supporter of CWS who is interested to help his country expand its ways of thinking about philanthropy and giving – particularly among individuals and through public engagement with activities like CWS legendary CROP Hunger Walks, which have taken place for decades across America every planting season (spring) and harvest time (fall). For his part, Rev. Smith discerned that CWS Japan connections with universities, in addition to Christian congregations and denominations, might be key to outreach and inroads for engagement. This is particularly true since CWS Japan’s recognized expertise for quality and accountable emergency response, and for innovative grassroots, and high-tech, disaster risk reduction, mitigation and response are well-known in Japanese academic circles.
While the conversations with Rev. Smith were not the first the CWS Japan team and Board has had about expanding our outreach in Japan, the were the most substantive so far, expanding staff and Board thinking about CWS Japan’s domestic impact.
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