Thursday, March 31, 2011

There's nothing I wish to add to this

Published on (    
EDITOR'S note:                                                  

THIS letter, written by Vietnamese immigrant Ha Minh Thanh   working in
Fukushima as a policeman to a friend in Vietnam, was 
 posted on New America Media on March 19. It is a testimonial to   the
strength of the Japanese spirit, and an interesting slice of
 life near the epicenter of Japan 's crisis at the Fukushima   nuclear
power plant. It was translated by NAM editor Andrew Lam,
 author of "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres." Shanghai
Daily condensed it.                                             
 Brother,                                              ;           
 How are you and your family? These last few days, everything was   in
chaos. When I close my eyes, I see dead bodies. When I open my  eyes, I
also see dead bodies.                          
 Each one of us must work 20 hours a day, yet I wish there were 48
hours in the day, so that we could continue helping and rescuing
 We are without water and electricity, and food rations are near   zero.
We barely manage to move refugees before there are new    
 orders to move them elsewhere.                                  
 I am currently in Fukushima , about 25 kilometers away from the nuclear
power plant. I have so much to tell you that if I could 
 write it all down, it would surely turn into a novel about human
relationships and behaviors during times of crisis.             
 People here remain calm - their sense of dignity and proper behavior
are very good - so things aren't as bad as they could  
 be. But given another week, I can't guarantee that things won't   get
to a point where we can no longer provide proper protection 
 and order.                                                      
 They are humans after all, and when hunger and thirst override
dignity, well, they will do whatever they have to do. The       
 government is trying to provide supplies by air, bringing in food  and
medicine, but it's like dropping a little salt into the     
 Brother, there was a really moving incident. It involves a little
Japanese boy who taught an adult like me a lesson on how to     
 behave like a human being.                                      
 Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity
organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a  long line that
snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy  around 9 years old. He
was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of   shorts.

 It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the   line.
I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn't
 be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the
earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was  
 driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony   when he
saw the tsunami sweep his father's car away.            
 I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the  beach
and that his mother and little sister probably didn't make
 it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his
 The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him.
That's when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it 
 up and gave it to him. "When it comes to your turn, they might   run
out of food. So here's my portion. I already ate. Why don't 
 you eat it?"                                                    
 The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away,
but he didn't. He took the bag of food, went up to where  
 the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be
 I was shocked. I asked him why he didn't eat it and instead added it to
the food pile. He answered: "Because I see a lot more     
 people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will
distribute the food equally."                                   
 When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn't see me cry.

 A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of
sacrifice for the greater good must be a great       
 society, a great people.                             
 Well, a few lines to send you and your family my warm wishes. The hours
of my shift have begun again.                             
 Ha Minh Thanh    

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