UNE staff and students support Japan disaster relief

Published 23 March 2011

paper_craneStaff and students of the University of New England will rally behind disaster-stricken Japan at the Markets in the Mall this Sunday.

The Armidale Japanese Association will set up donation boxes, an origami workshop corner for children, and a small flea market to raise money in support of  victims of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in the north-east of Japan.

The campaign has been dubbed ‘Ganbare Tohoku!’ (Cheer up Tohoku!), referring to the region of Japan affected by the disasters.

Those who donate will be given a piece of origami work (such as a crane, frog or other ornamental figure) that the members of the association have made as a token of appreciation. 

All funds raised will be donated to those affected via the Australian Red Cross. 

Dr Keita Takayama, from UNE’s School of Education, is leading the campaign, with support from colleagues from across the university and the local community.

Students enrolled in Japanese language units at UNE and local schools have also been invited to help the campaign at the market stall.

Dr Takayama said: “Many of us in the Armidale Japanese Association, both Japanese and non-Japanese members, felt compelled to act in the wake of this catastrophic event.  Having received heart-felt sympathy, condolence, and encouragement from our neighbours, colleagues, and friends in Armidale, we’ve decided that the fundraising campaign would help Armidale residents and the UNE community communicate their compassion for the victims.”

The Armidale Japanese Association was established by a group of Japanese families and friends in Armidale in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.  The association currently has 14 families residing in Armidale area and is open to anyone interested in and associated with Japan.  The association is planning to run another fundraising campaign at the UNE Japanese Cultural Festival on May 13 and at the Markets in the Mall in April and May.   

With at least 8450 dead, and thousands more missing, the disasters in Japan have devastated the country. Some 335,000 people have been forced into temporary emergency shelters, where they now face shortages of food, clothing and medical supplies. 

“One of the few positive outcomes from such a tragic event is that it unites people together,” Dr. Takayama said. “The formation of Armidale Japanese Association is one such example where people in the community spontaneously come together to work for the common cause.”

Those interested in supporting the campaign can contact Dr. Takayama on 6773 3472 or at ktakayam@une.edu.au.