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FROM THE ARCHIVES: ‘Nothing really prepared me for what I saw when disaster hit Japan'

This story first appeared in The Straits Times on March 10, 2012

Published on Mar 11, 2014 5:27 PM
 

Singaporean Lai Ying Loong was in Japan’s capital when the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11 last year.

“Although I was in Tokyo, I struggled to find normality in the aftershocks that followed. There is a certain part of the horror that I share with the people of Tohoku. You realise they have to deal with so many challenges just to survive. As a human being, I felt I had to do something for them,” says the 36-year-old, who has been working in Tokyo for several years.

Since then, he has been making weekend trips to the affected Tohoku region about once a month, joining other volunteers first in clearing debris and more recently in bringing cheer to survivors.

On his first few trips, when basic necessities were still scarce in the disaster areas, he had to bring his own water, sleeping bag and boots, and slept in tents.

 
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