Gets right to the heart of the tsunami victims.

  • Book: One Month in Tohoku: An Englishwoman’s Memoir on Life after the Japanese Tsunami
  • Location: Japan, Tōhoku
  • Author: Caroline Pover

Review Author: RosieA



One Month In Tohoku is an Englishwoman’s memoir about life after the 2011 Japanese Tsunami.

Author Caroline Pover was on a solo holiday in Saipan when the disaster occurred, though she had lived in Japan for several years and thought of it as her adopted home. The pictures and news from Japan were terrible and Caroline felt a deep need to do something for the victims, but she had no suitable rescue skills. Instead, she flew back to England, and began using her network of contacts to raise money and supplies for the survivors.

This is an inspiring story of one woman’s idea which expanded across the globe. The fundraising campaigns and the generous support which Caroline received were brilliant. She then went on to take the supplies to the heart of the people who needed them. With a determination to raise spirit, Caroline initially filled two lorries with items and later she organised goods to be delivered to a local distribution point.

Caroline went to the Oshika peninsula, a six and a half hour drive north of Tokyo where people had only the clothes that they were wearing when they escaped the tsunami. Their houses and businesses no longer existed and they were sheltering in cramped emergency conditions.

This was more than a one-off plan. Caroline returned to the area as often as possible and she listened to what the people needed; she used financial donations for projects to help rebuild the communities. She kept all the sponsors informed of how their money was spent, and this built up a great relationship between the donors and the recipients. One of the main problems with many of the charities today is that people believe that their money gets used up in administration and transport costs, but Caroline made sure all of the money and sponsorship went directly to the people.

This book is much more than just one month in Tohoku; this is the story of the people and the communities and how they rebuilt their lives, and about the kindness in the world for complete strangers. Caroline has returned to Oshika almost every year. Although so much of it is sad, there is also so much that is good and happy. I think anyone who has ever considered voluntary work would enjoy reading this, especially those frustrated by the red tape which often prevents the right donations getting to the people who really need them.

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