As one of the admins of the FVJ forum, I thought it was time to address the Garin Dart case. In regards to questions about the lack of updates on this page about the case, there are two main reasons. The first is that the core group that formed the original delivery missions and ran the various projects have since filtered out to other groups and organizations leading into early 2012. While we originally had ambitions to set up FVJ as a formal group, our projects were far too varied and spread out over very wide areas of Tohoku to maintain a cohesive momentum. Many of these members have ended up taking key roles in still-active Tohoku relief organizations, and a few have returned to their day jobs in other parts of the country. I’m based in Miyagi full-time working on rebuilding projects with another NGO, but still do my part to maintain the forum and web presence when possible. It was decided in early 2012 that the best focus for the group was to maintain an open-forum for people active in Tohoku Relief to represent their own organizations, and for people interested in volunteering to be able to reach out to those active on the ground with questions.
The second reason is that myself and the other admins have been extremely worried about an old friend who disappeared without a trace. Garin has not been actively involved in FVJ since late-2011 when his business with Bluesilver started to finally pick back up. Following 3.11, his event management business dealt with a number of sudden cancellations while Embassies were calling out for their citizens to evacuate the country. While I imagine it was a tough call for him, Garin really came through in the early days by reallocating a lot of the resources planned for these events directly into Tohoku donations. It was thanks to this that the first delivery of goods that we made up North consisted of hundreds of cans of Baked Beans and Pineapple Juice. The following delivery was a more practical delivery of 3000 bottles of water. Garin worked hard to convince his partners and suppliers to let us borrow their vehicles, and to generously donate essential goods, foods and supplies for delivery.
In regards to his disappearance, I first heard of it through mutual friends linking to the Telegraph article. I have known Garin for several years, and was shocked, worried and scared for him. When planning delivery projects, he sometimes talked about his family, and how he regretted having to often work late, because he was missing time that he could spend with his young son. As an admin of the forum, I was told some very terrible stories of what might have happened to him. I do not want to recount those tales here, but the other admins and myself have spent many sleepless nights in worry for our colleague and friend. He was always idealistic, and could be stubborn when he focused himself on a goal. In mid-2011, when he first heard that a particular underground organization had begun taking advantage of tsunami survivors, he got visibly upset and angry with that news. With that memory in mind, it wouldn’t have been out-of-character for him to have followed up on trying to stop that.
After two months of fear and worry that my old friend could be dead, these latest news articles give hope that he is alive. If he is alive, the idea that he embezzled from his company and abandoned his family, are some terrible things to have done. The other admins and myself only know as much as is in the papers. I wish we knew more. If he is gone, I wish we knew with some certainly to remember his good deeds and to let him rest in peace. If he has run away, he will have to answer for abandoning his family deserting his company, and worrying the hell out of his friends and family.
In conclusion, this would be a good time to remind everyone that FVJ’s primary objectives is to continue supporting volunteer efforts in Tohoku, as well as to help people be prepared to help in the event of future disasters. While we are all very concerned about Garin, we must not allow this to distract from the work that needs to be done.
As mentioned above FVJ currently serves as an information hub. There are many groups represented on the forum, and they all have their own track records. One of the reasons we posted about Garin’s disappearance was that he was instrumental in the early days in organizing the trucks and storage facilities for the early FVJ-organized food and relief goods deliveries, as well as setting up some of the early events – such as the ‘Meet and Greet’ and Foosball events. He got very busy with Bluesilver in late 2011 and hasn’t really been involved with the community following that. Perhaps it wasn’t appropriate to post about his disappearance here, but as many of us were his friends, and appreciative of his help in the early days, we were worried for his safety and wanted to help out in the search however possible.
FVJ is not an organization, it’s a platform for people to share ideas about disaster relief and come together to help those in need, particularly in Tohoku. What one man did, or might not have done, is of very little consequence to this cause simply because he was one of the initiators. There are literally scores of individuals and organizations that have used, and hopefully will continue to use, the FVJ platform as a means to help others. Pure and simple. Let’s not detract from everyone who’s doing super work. Let’s encourage them instead.