Inside of an ARI office after the quake.

The Asian Rural Institute (ARI) is an international training ground for grassroots leadership located in Northern Japan and not far from the epicenter of the earthquake that struck late last week. The ELCA has an ongoing relationship with ARI, providing scholarships for agricultural education to many Lutheran companions throughout Asia and Africa.

Below is an update sent out by ARI Graduate Coordinator, Steven Cutting, on how the quake, tsunami and nuclear threat have and are affecting their community. Please keep Steven, his family and all at ARI in your prayers as they continue to learn how these disasters will affect their lives and their work.


Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your emails and for your concern, worry, and prayers for us. We are all fine. My family is fine and everyone at ARI is fine.

ARI sustained quite a bit of damage from the quake, but nothing like you are seeing on the news. The worst hit areas are on the coast, which were slammed by the tsunami. Some of our buildings have structural damage, but we do not yet now the extent. EVERYTHING is a mess and smashed, since everything on every shelf, desk, or cabinet was thrown violently to the floor. We started cleaning up on the day after the quake, but we stopped to regroup in the face of the even scarier stuff happening at the nuclear power plant. The plant is about 100-130 km from here (hard to get a straight line fix on the distance). The latest news of the last few hours is even more serious than the previous days since it started leaking higher levels of radiation. They are evacuating to a 20 km radius and outside that they say to stay indoors. The radiation in this area is higher than normal but not to danger levels apparently, but the wind started blowing radiation directly in our direction. Before today the wind was blowing it away from us.

I took Miki and the kids to Gunma prefecture and stayed there with them for 2 days. They continued on south and west to Kyushu which is quite far away from all the danger to stay with Miki’s mother. Since the conditions seemed to be stable last night I returned to ARI to help clean up, but unfortunately conditions became much worse. Still we are sticking it out here for now, staying indoors, as running would also have its problems and would not necessarily be safer. Somehow most people living in this town are just going on with life as normal.

They will turn off the power in a little while for about 4 hours, so I will try to get this sent now.

Thanks again for your concern and prayers. We have enough food and water and we are working together.


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