With over 8,500 people dead and a further 13,000 people missing, concerns over the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan prompted some local expats to lend a hand.
Miyuki Kamiya and Yukiko Nendai organized a table near Family Place in Powell River Town Centre Mall this past weekend to raise awareness about the disaster and collect donations for relief in Japan. Over the three days they raised over $800.
Kamiya said she decided something needed to be done after finding out that a young man from Japan she knows, who spent some time in Powell River, is missing his mother and grandfather in the aftermath of the tsunami. He is back living in Japan, but in a safe area. His family home has been destroyed and his home village has been hit hard by the disaster.
All of Kamiya’s family in Japan are okay and live in areas that were not affected by the quake. She said her family, including her brother who lives near Tokyo, are worried now about radiation in the food and water from the nuclear power plants damaged by the quake. Speaking to her family, Kamiya said they are telling her that gasoline is scarce and food and basic supplies are harder to come by after a panicked population cleared out most of the stores.
“People who are there are really frustrated and worried because they don’t know what’s going on,” said Kamiya. “I was shocked. I don’t know what I felt. I worried about my brother first because he is closer than anybody in my family.”
Kamiya said that growing up in Japan she experienced many earthquakes and Japanese people are more than familiar with the seismic events. Kamiya was in Japan during the 6.8 Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 that killed nearly 6,500 people. She felt the shake but was lucky enough to be away from the hard hit areas. At the time, Kamiya had a first-hand look at the response of the country to a disaster of this type.
“We are strong,” said Kamiya. “Our grandparents built from nothing after the war so we can probably do the same thing. I think Japanese are strong that way. We will rebuild the country again, that’s my belief.”
Organizers are still working on where exactly to donate the money but Kamiya wants to see the money sent directly to organizations in the areas of Japan that have been most affected or to refugees themselves. Giving the money to the Canadian Red Cross is another option.
A larger fundraising event is being held Friday, April 15 that will feature Japanese food, music, origami demonstrations and a silent auction at the Powell River French Club, 5110 Manson Avenue. There will be a minimum $5 donation at the door and food is extra. Children are welcome and those aged under 10 will be admitted for free. Anyone interested in donating an item for the silent auction or in volunteering at the event can call Kamiya at 604.414.0082.