For the past two months, hundreds of Scientology Volunteer Ministers have served in Japan in the wake of the magnitude 9 earthquake and 30-foot tsunami. Several hundred more are now en route to continue their work in Tokyo, Onagawa, Kesennuma and Ishinomaki.
Within 24 hours of the disaster, Volunteer Ministers assessment teams arrived in the areas most affected by the disaster and met with local officials to find out what was needed and wanted. With more than 400,000 persons displaced, a disaster response base was established in Tokyo to coordinate the delivery of Volunteer Ministers aid.
On an immediate basis, Volunteer Ministers international headquarters in Los Angeles flew a 15-man team of search and rescue specialists called Los Topos to Japan. Los Topos and the Volunteer Ministers have worked together at Ground Zero New York, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans, and following earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand. On arriving, Los Topos met with the Japanese Army and launched a search and rescue mission to find survivors.
For nearly two months, more than 140 Volunteer Ministers from around the world have been helping in shelters in Kesennuma, Sendai, Watari, Onagawa, Ishinomaki and Idda; working in distribution centers to organize the delivery of food, water and supplies; administering shelters and assisting on the cleanup of towns and villages that were destroyed.
The volunteers have helped more than 140,000 people. They are providing Scientology assists. Often described as “spiritual first aid,” assists help the individual overcome the effects of loss, shock and trauma and speed recovery by addressing the spiritual and emotional factors related to illness and injury.
In shelters where assists are provided it is not uncommon to hear comments such as "I cannot believe I have received such a helpful service in a time like this," and "it eased the shock of the earthquake."
One man whose inn was swept away in the tsunami began his assist in sorrow and walked away humming, telling a Volunteer Minister he planned to rebuild as soon as possible.
To date, Volunteer Ministers have delivered more than 12,000 assists and trained some 1,400 people in assist delivery in Japan, prompting a Hashikami City Councilor to tell the Volunteer Minister that theirs is an important service the Japanese people can find nowhere else.
The official in charge of the Onagawa Town disaster effort expressed his appreciation for the help of the Scientology Disaster Response Team in a letter stating: "I have heard many disaster victims say they feel good, relaxed, relieved from body pain and healed from the trauma of this disaster after this group delivers the technology called 'assists' developed by L. Ron Hubbard."
The volunteers maintain communication and coordinate their work with the heads of local volunteer organizations, disaster relief groups and government officials to ensure they are providing the services most needed and wanted.
After learning from assessments that the elderly in outlying areas were unable to get to shelters or procure food, the Volunteer Ministers arranged for the donation, transport and delivery of 32 bicycles to Hashikami, which are now used by youth in the area to deliver these supplies and food.
Finding out from Kesennuma Fisherman Association that business was crippled for lack of a forklift, the Volunteer Ministers arranged for the donation and delivery of one.
On a day-to-day basis, Volunteer Ministers transport evacuees to public baths. They organize music concerts and bring hairdressers to the shelters to keep living standards and morale high.
The Volunteer Ministers in Japan work in coordination with groups such as the Red Cross, the Lutheran Church, Chuetsu Disaster Prevention Safety Drive, Kaizou-ji Temple, Yoake-juku NGO and Rescue Stockyard, and in the private sector with Toyota, Monavie Japan and the Kesennuma Junior Chamber of Commerce, which are also providing or funding relief.
Volunteer Ministers disaster response will continue in Japan as long as the need continues.
The Scientology Volunteer Minister program was initiated by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1976. There are now hundreds of thousands of people trained in the skills of a Volunteer Minister across 185 nations.
This article was also published on Emergency Management Portal UK.