Earlier this year, we traveled with our client to Sendai, Japan to participate in the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction where we helped document the team's impact on disaster readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. It was a dynamic trip, with some unplanned, yet amazing opportunities to visit outlying communities affected by the Tohoku tsunami.
The boy in the photo above is a resident of a long-term shelter for those displaced by the tsunami that occurred over four years ago now. It wasn't clear when this boy and his family would have a permanent home to go to - many disaster refugees come from towns or villages that were simply wiped off the map with no plans to rebuild.
With the current Syrian refugee crisis, I ponder the broader challenge of people facing adversity and the need to move. Sudden natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis can be planned for, mitigated against through zoning, building codes and awareness. Climate change will be a tougher nut to crack, and the number of "climate refugees" is likely to increase as changes in the environment force communities to leave their homes. Wars will continue (unfortunately) as we fight over ideologies or resources (or both), forcing more people to seek safety in other geographies.
My hope is that through the work we do, we can promote empathy through shared experiences (borrowing from Casey Neistat, there). Media is a powerful means for sharing experiences. A camera and an internet connection can be more powerful than any standing army. Let's keep telling stories about our successes and challenges so that those most vulnerable can better help themselves and those with the means to lend assistance are encouraged to do so with compassion.