Inspiration in the Midst of Indescribable Heartbreak
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Inspiration from an Eight-Year-Old -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/4, ISO 2200 — full exif
Inspiration from an Eight-Year-Old

My 8-year-old son, Anthony, came into my den while I was watching video of the devastating tsunami that hit up north a few days ago. We're untouched here in Kyoto, but of course he's heard that some bad event happened. I showed him a few of the less graphic videos, and described a bit about the hardship that the survivors must be enduring. He seemed to grasp that it was a bad situation, and wandered off.

Later, we found the note above on my wife's desk. It says:

このお金はぼくのおこづかいです。 いまとうきょうのへんでつなみとじしんがおこっています。 そして、でんきがないばしょがあります。でんきがなかったらだめだからこのお金をわたしてください。
This money is from my allowance. Now, earthquakes and tsunami are happening in the Tokyo area. Therefore, they don't have electricity. Not having electricity must be bad so please send this money.

He placed 112 yen (about $1.25), which I think is all he had left after a recent shopping trip.

Of course, his selflessness chokes me up... but I hesitated whether I should share this on my blog for fear of coming across as the over-proud parent I am.

But on the Japanese news they're reporting that governments in the affected areas are faced with an awkward problem... there are so many people here who want to do something to help in a meaningful way, but when it comes down to it, individuals entering the wasteland to help probably make more trouble than good, so at this point the governments are turning away all but large professional organizations that can look after themselves as well as those they're trying to help. At this point, the best an individual can do is send money to those large organizations.

Yahoo! Japan is credited in the domestic media as having set up the first large-scale acceptance for donations for the earthquake, but outside of Japan one's first thought is likely a chapter of the Red Cross. If you'd like to donate....

I feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness being so close but not being able to do anything, so perhaps if my boy's note inspires someone to help, I've done something.

All 15 comments so far, oldest first...

Children so often speak from the heart. We as parents would do well to follow where they would lead us.

You can’t help but feel overwhelmed when you watch videos of those waves of water wash away entire villages and towns.

Thanks for the post.


— comment by Chris on March 15th, 2011 at 10:39am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Sounds like Anthony has good parents. 🙂

— comment by Bill on March 15th, 2011 at 11:41am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Jeff –
Sounds like you’ve done a great job with your boy. I only hope Jeffrey and I do half as good a job with Ellie Graye!
Glad to hear you all are ok

— comment by Melissa on March 15th, 2011 at 5:19pm JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink


thanks for publishing this wonderful expression of empathy from your son. No need to be shy about it, you can be very proud of your son.

Thanks also for the hints as to where to donate.


— comment by Chris Diewald on March 15th, 2011 at 8:28pm JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Just to agree with Chris – I couldn’t have put it better. I feel Japan gave me so much during my visits, and I can never repay that. But thanks for the Red Cross links, I hadn’t seen any appeals here in UK so far.

— comment by Peter in Wales on March 15th, 2011 at 9:58pm JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Mr. Friedl:

You have a wonderful son and may God continue to bless him. Thank you for your wonderful photos expressing that hope for Japan that must never fade.

— comment by Michael Yoder on March 15th, 2011 at 10:38pm JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I’m glad you posted this story – I found it very touching. That sort of mindfulness about others is what society really benefits from. You have every right to be proud!

— comment by David K on March 16th, 2011 at 12:18am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Anthony is a very sweet boy. I usually show posts related to him to my A. He is especially enamored by Anthony’s star wars Lego collection. It is so sad that tragedy at such a scale happened. Japan has always been our favorite even though we are yet to make a trip. Thank you for all the links.

— comment by Sonal, MN on March 16th, 2011 at 12:47am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Sweet. I will show Anthony’s cousins and hope they will be inspired by his example.

— comment by Michael on March 16th, 2011 at 5:00am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Your son is wise (and sensitive) beyond his years. I’m certain you and your wife are very proud of him just as my wife and I would be!

Bob Peters
grandfather of four (9, 6, 5 and 2)

— comment by Bob Peters on March 16th, 2011 at 7:17am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I always enjoy your posts on photography – and this time you and your son succeeded in inspiring me to donate to the American Red Cross and their efforts in Japan.
Glad you and your family are safe.

— comment by Tim on March 16th, 2011 at 8:08am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I’m glad you posted this and I’m also happy to hear that your family is doing ok with all that is happening over there.

— comment by Kathy on March 16th, 2011 at 11:04am JST (12 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

When I read this, I was just moved.

— comment by britto on March 18th, 2011 at 1:12pm JST (12 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

This is why kids are so awesome! Wow!

— comment by Eric Mesa on March 22nd, 2011 at 9:46pm JST (12 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Anthony’s note and his 112 yen “all out” is the most poignant earthquake story I have seen. Thanks for this touching story about my
friend Anthony. This year’s cherry blossoms are enchanting. Father Mac

— comment by Father Mac on April 4th, 2011 at 8:49am JST (12 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink
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