AIKEN—Members of Venture Crew 115 from St. Mary Help of Christians Church had only been back from Japan a short time when the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck.
Kaitlyn Amidon, Casey Thomas and Alexander Paczynski had traveled to the country in February as part of an international Scouting friendship program.
In an emotional e-mail to The Miscellany, Kaitlyn recounts her feelings upon hearing the news and what the Scouts are trying to do now to help.
Excerpts from Kaitlyn Amidon:
“When I heard about the earthquake and tsunami it shocked me so much.
While we were in Japan a couple of the other Scouts had actually experienced smaller earthquakes that happened. They were with the host families at the time, but everyone there was just so used to it that it didn’t even phase the Japanese people. Apparently smaller earthquakes are just a normal part of life over there, but not one as large as the one that has devastated them now.
When I heard about all the damage and everything that had happened, I instantly went on Facebook and messaged any and all of my friends that I had met from over there asking if they were OK. But I was most worried about my host family and the kids.
I had seen many images on TV and in the newspaper of the destruction from the tsunami and earthquake, and when I couldn’t get a hold of my host family, I began to worry that something had happened to them. It was a very stressful and frightening few days. Not knowing for sure if those people I had just been with were OK was very frightening.
Luckily, I finally got word back from them saying that they were all fine and were not affected by the tsunami — just some damage from the earthquake.
I asked them about the radiation and contamination that had been found in Chiba’s water, which is where they live, but they said there was such a great distance from where they live from the Fukushima power plant that right now everything is OK.
However, they are worried about the lack of water, gasoline, electrical power, and a shortage of fruits and vegetables due to the Fukushima problem.
They have been experiencing power outages every day which worries them. Fortunately though, the kids are still going to school and the parents are still going to the office to work.
They said they were not planning on leaving Japan or that area where they live because that is their home, and they are trying to keep life as normal as possible for the kids.
Right now they feel uncertain about the future of Japan, but have a very strong belief that the country will make a great recovery. I pray every day that they do!
Right now I am trying to keep in contact with them and send them frequent care packages. They seem to like that!”
Lisa Amidon, Kaitlyn’s mom, said her daughter and the other Scouts are leading a fundraising effort in Aiken to help the victims of the disaster.
“They were very much impacted by the devastation and feel a personal connection to Japan and its people,” she said in an e-mail.
The teens and others from the trip have set up a Boy Scouts of America/Scout Association of Japan Friendship Program Facebook page and are exchanging ideas with their American and Japanese friends on how to help.