Volunteers reach out to grieving Japanese

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2012, 12:00am

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Although she had a week off, lawyer Terry Chan Suk-chi didn't take a break - she went to Japan to help those who lost loved ones in last year's earthquake and tsunami deal with their grief and fear.

'One woman I counselled seemed very calm at first. But as we were chatting she suddenly broke down. She told me she felt very guilty for not taking the first opportunity to search for her missing father. She had chosen to help search for her husband's family first,' Chan said.

Timothy To Wing-ching, executive director of the Post-Crisis Counselling Network, said many people are still haunted by the disaster, even though it has been more than a year since it happened. 'They need help to deal with their sorrow and get back to a normal life,' he said.

Chan was one of seven Hongkongers the network sent to Fukushima from May 3 to 8 to counsel people who lost their homes and loved ones in the disaster, which claimed some 19,000 lives. A 9-magnitude earthquake off the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11 last year triggered a tsunami, followed by a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A lawyer for a decade, Chan did not have to attend court for a week and instead of taking a rest decided to do something more meaningful with her time. 'We visited the zone very close to the nuclear plant. We were worried about radiation, but my family was very supportive of my volunteer work,' Chan said.

It was the 10th group sent by the network to help those affected by the disaster in Japan. Gym coach Candy Lai was also on the latest trip. Lai said she learnt tai chi so she could teach it to the Japanese she met to help them relax and improve their health.