8 years can pass so quickly.
On March 11th, 2011, a massive magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the coast of northern Japan, triggering giant and devastating tsunamis. Entire settlements were washed out to sea. Thousands of people perished. But as shocking as the scale of this disaster was, the swift response of volunteers who travelled to Tohoku to help with the rescue and clean-up brought hope and relief to the shattered communities.
Dean was one of volunteers, with a goal not only of physically helping the people of places like Ishinomaki, but also using his platform as a model and social activist to bring wider world attention and assistance to the affected regions. In typical Dean-style, his aim was to showcase stories of strength, hope and resilience.
As a recently released video interview reveals, Dean travelled perhaps further than most volunteers at the time, as he had in fact already left Japan in 2010 in hopes of following his dreams and pursuing an acting career in L.A. Despite already having set in motion a different life path, Dean felt deeply compelled to return to Japan, and so began his experience as a social activist which continues to this day.
The experience of Tohoku, of being part of the clean-up and organising fundraisers and donation drives had a big affect on Dean, and he has returned to the area many times to revisit the families he met and their communities and cheering on their rebuilding and renewal. The below video was made 5 years after the event, and poignantly shows that despite how much progress has been made, there is still a lot of work yet to do.
Dean, along with runAway, hope to return to Tohoku soon and once again be part of the effort to support the community there, and bring the attention of the world back again. 8 years passes so quickly, but even if others have moved on, Dean and runAway still remember Tohoku!