What and how much has happened in five months?
Five months is the time that have passed since the first big earthquake hit the Southwest region of my homeland.
Since a month ago, the Disaster Response Headquarters that was set up in the most affected area has been dissolved. This organization dealt mainly with the needs arising in the acute phase such as rescuing the affected and rebuilding of infrastructure, as well as constructing temporary houses. But as rescue efforts came to an end with bringing home the last of the missing and a comprehensive plan has been laid down to guide reconstruction of the area, it was viewed that it had done its job.
With its official dissolution, focus has now shifted to the long recovery phase ahead. Re-establishing housing – first temporary, then permanent – will remain top priority. There are still around five hundred persons living at emergency shelters, and over 180 thousand houses require some kind of repair. But more attention will also be paid to resurgence in local economy.
I read a story at a news site today, about a noodles restaurant in the most affected area. Its store survived, but right after the quake it had lost all utilities and food supplies (including its stock of soup which it is famous for), and employees could not come to work. After a couple of weeks, all of these had been recovered, but there was still one important thing lacking – bowls in which to serve the noodles! But the former chairman of the board of directors of the Noodles Association spread the word about this situation, and within no time, over five hundred bowls were donated from noodle restaurants from all over the country.
Today, the restaurant is still using these non-matching bowls. There is now enough fund to order new bowls of its own, but the owner plans to continue using them. He thinks they are a symbol of the collective kindness of supporters, visible and invisible, and remind him of the gratitude he felt when he first saw them every time he serves his noodles to customers in them. (He says some customers even come just for the excitement of never knowing which bowls they will be served with!)
Maybe this restaurant was, in a way, lucky to have received so much help so quickly.
Maybe there are a lot more good Samaritans out there than we think.
But maybe the restaurant was good at asking for help from them…?
I have been hearing of stories of mothers and children and elderlies who are not as good at seeking help, because they try to be good Samaritans themselves when in fact they could be most in need of help. They think “there must be others who are in need much more than I am, so I have to say I’m okay.” But, even the good Samaritans cannot help if the hurt is not recognizable.
So, maybe if you are hurt, it is okay for you take a break from being a good Samaritan.
Maybe you can let others be, for once, and tell us how badly hurt you are.
Then maybe, we can find better ways to make you feel good again.
I am very grateful for the many good Samaritans out there who continue to send love and support to my people. We are slowly but surely recovering, but we recognize that we have not yet made visible all the hurt that may exist (or come to exist moving ahead)… I hope you will find it okay for us to not be good sometimes!
And I wish the same for the people of Ecuador – it has been very hard for me to find out just how badly you have been hurt. It may be difficult for us to be good Samaritans to each other, but we can certainly be good comrades moving ahead!