On 11 March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck 120 kilometres off Japan's northeastern coast, triggering a massive tsunami that caused catastrophic scenes of destruction across the districts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Around 19,000 people lost their lives and about half a million were made homeless.
ShelterBox responded within 24 hours by having a team on the ground assessing the situation, and after several weeks, had distributed aid for tens of thousands of people.
Before Chris Alderson (UK) trained to become a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member, he acted as a guide and translator for ShelterBox in Japan following the disaster.
Two years on, Chris still lives in Japan and reflects on the difference ShelterBox made for families and elderly couples in the damaged village of Nagahama:
Today, the situation in the northeast has changed. ShelterBox's initial emergency disaster gave way to long-term projects to rebuild communities. Many were moved into temporary housing built by the government, mostly from an older demographic.
'If they can afford it and if they wish to, the elderly now have to decide where to rebuild their homes,' added Chris. 'They can choose to stay in the devastated areas or move to areas with existing infrastructure as it's expected it will take decades for some of the areas to be fully cleared and once more served by roads, electricity and water.'
On this two-year anniversary, ShelterBox extends its heartfelt thoughts to all those affected by the devastating disaster.