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Author's profile photo Derek Klobucher

SAP Helps Disaster Victims Regain Independence

A volunteer group formed by SAP employees two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan is still going strong more than two years later. Tohoku Earthquake Aid and Relief Strategy (TEARS) helps locals regain their self-sufficiency by donating labor, equipment and even teaching computer classes.

“We really focus on how we can help them become independent,” SAP Japan Corporate Social Responsibility Lead Nahoko Oku told SAP TV.

SAP CSR TEARS 08-14-2013.jpg
VIDEO: A boat donated to Japanese fisherman Hiroo Sato after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has helped him rebuild his livelihood.

TEARS works with a boat donation program run by U.S.-based NGO Operation Blessing International to support fishing communities in north Japan’s Miyagi prefecture, which lost more than 8,100 boats to the March 11, 2011 disaster. Fishing and aquafarming are the main sources of income in that region, and SAP has donated at least 25 boats to fishermen there since the tragedy’s first anniversary.

“When they told me I would be getting a boat,” local fisherman Hiroo Sato told SAP TV, “I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it.” During a test drive of the boat last year, Sato told Oku that he hadn’t steered a boat since the disaster.

SAP also donated ropes for seaweed farming. And TEARS volunteers filled around 400 sandbags, each weighing about 50 kg (110 lbs.), to help keep aquafarm nets in place.

But there is more work to be done. The tsunami and earthquake destroyed more than 120,000 Japanese homes and damaged almost 250,000 more. Total destruction was as high as US$308 billion (€231 billion); with around US$17.2 billion (€13 billion) of that in the fishing industry.

So SAP volunteers have planned another trip to the region for SAP’s month of service in October.

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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