We are all in this together…

I remember my first visit to Japan like it was yesterday. The cherry blossoms were in bloom for the Sakura festival and I remember the thousands of people at the Asakusa temple. I fell in love with the land, the people, the culture, and the food. I was instantly captivated by it and over the years it has remained one of my favorite places to visit.

After watching the tragic events of the last few weeks, my heart and my respect goes out to the Japanese people. I am saddened by the destruction and tragic loss of life that has resulted from the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear emergency. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people who have been affected by this tragedy. I am very thankful that my friends and co-workers in Japan are safe, but so many people have lost their loved ones, their homes, their businesses, and in some cases their entire communities. It is hard to comprehend an event that is so massive it moves an entire country more than 2 meters and shifts the axis of the earth’s rotation. It is the kind of event that the term “biblical proportions” was coined for…

Disasters such as this remind us how fragile and precious life is and how quickly disaster can strike any of us, anywhere, at any time. As I watched the events unfolding in Japan, I thought about the frequency and magnitude of disasters that have occurred in the past few years. They have taken many forms and struck in every part of the world, from massive hurricanes in my old home town of New Orleans, to the devastating earthquakes in China, and Haiti, and Chile, and New Zealand, and now Japan, to the torrential floods of Karnataka India and Queensland Australia, to the 2004 tsunami that hit Indonesia and my current home of Thailand…

Our modern technology allows us to instantly see the images of the damage and the pain that is caused by these tragedies. But, as I watched the news this morning and was thinking back on all these events, what struck me is how the people of the world continue to come together to provide each other assistance in difficult times. They do it by sending teams of rescue workers and disaster recovery experts. They do it by making donations of food, money, clothing, and in many cases even their own blood. They send their condolences and encouragement. They send their sympathy and their prayers. They send their wishes for the speedy recovery of their neighbors on this little planet that we share. And that gives me hope. Hope that we all realize that we are all in this together.

I am very proud of my what my colleagues and my company have done to be a part of the recovery process to help the people of Japan following this terrible event. In the first weeks since the quake, Intel employees have donated over $550,000 dollars which was doubled through the Intel Foundation matching grant fund. In addition, the Intel Foundation donated an additional one million dollars. I am proud that the Intel community has contributed over $2 million dollars to the disaster relief.

I am also very proud of my colleagues who are working with Japanese relief workers to provide IT infrastructure in the affected areas. In the days following the earthquake, teams of Intel employees set up PC’s with Internet access in the relief shelters in the northern parts of Japan to allow the shelter operators to manage the information on hundreds of refugees and coordinate the critical food and medical supply logistics needed to support them. While many of us were still trying to comprehend what had happened, they were out finding ways to use their skills to help their neighbors. To them, I just want to say thank you. You are an inspiration to all of us.

I also want to say thank you to all of the rescue workers, first responders, and the relief organizations for doing what they do. I want to say thank you to the volunteers and to everyone who has made a donation to help the people who are affected by these disasters. And finally, I want to encourage all of you to take the time to make a plan for your family so you are ready if a disaster strikes in your community.

There are many resources online from many organizations and in many languages, but here is a link to get you started on your own plan… http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/.

Russ

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