How Do World Disasters Impact You?

The story on National Public Radio was Melissa Block reporting from China on the rescue efforts after the earthquake. At first, it was only a background to the hubbub of kids’ voices in the car as my three children and I drove to a church activity at the park.

I turned up the volume, and the conversation behind me became just two voices. On the radio, she described the experience of a father and mother seeking help to search the rubble of their apartment building for their 2-year-old son and his grandparents. They were leading an excavator through the streets of their city, past precarious structures and roadblocks with hope to find their son alive two days after the earthquake.

Less than a minute into the report, the sorrowful sounds of the in-the-moment report of their search were the only ones in the car; my children were silent and listening. A woman was ripping three sections from a white sheet and giving them to the frantic mother to cover the faces of her family if they were found dead, according to local customs.

We hoped with them as we drove through our own city streets where the excavators and heavy equipment lined up for construction projects, not to rescue destruction. The sunny lakeside park we entered only highlighted our distance from their reality. We saw young men playing Frisbee, and we heard the rescuers’ report—they found the bodies of a small boy with two older people.

My children stayed silent when I turned off the car and grieved with this mother who was a stranger but for whom I felt a connection and compassion.

Read the full story or listen to the 11-minute broadcast, “Couple Frantic to Find Loved Ones in Rubble” at the NPR website.

The scale of the disasters and loss of life in Myanmar and China are unfathomable. The geographical and cultural distances further disconnect us from the reality of the situation. Individual stories like this one, in addition to factual information, allow us to feel a piece of the devastation.

Is it difficult for you to comprehend the reality of recent world disasters?

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2 Comments

  1. allysha
    May 16, 2008

    I heard that report. I sat on my bed listening with tears streaming down my face.

  2. Carrie Jensen
    May 18, 2008

    Things always seem so far away, so distant. When I hear about disasters like this, in a country so far away, and even see the footage, it feels like a movie to me. I wish I could feel it more, but having said that, I don’t know what I could do. But there is something about being able to mourn for them, with them. They are children of God just like me and I want to care for them simply because of that connection.

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