Tuesday, November 29, 2011
A FORMER Waveney student has returned from Japan, pledging to continue her support for the relief effort after volunteering in the heart of the disaster area following this year’s earthquake and tsunami.
Jessica Brown, 33, a former student of Halesworth Middle School and Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, joined voluntary organisation Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) and in 2006 became part of the Alumni Association (JETAA), which aims to further Anglo-Japanese relations in the UK.
Originally from Stoven, Ms Brown, who now lives in Edinburgh and is a volunteer chairman of JETAA Scotland, travelled to country this year.
She said: “I visited the affected area of Tohoku in northern Japan. I travelled there on behalf of the JETAA Scotland Chapter and during the course of my time in Japan I visited old friends and enjoyed the food, friendships and taiko-drumming of my previous time in Japan.
“The latter part of my trip included a conference on UK-Japanese educational and cultural relations, meetings with the senior vice minister for foreign affairs, followed by voluntary work in Rikuzen-takata.
“The trip to Rikuzen-takata was shocking. It is unbelievable the amount of damage that the tsunami inflicted. The city is a bare landscape dotted with derelict buildings which look as though they might collapse any time. However six months on, this city has really pulled through.
“The tsunami left destruction and debris for many kilometres inland and the people of the city have tidied massive areas with the help of volunteers, but still there is nothing left; no night-life, shops or businesses. Daily life will take years to recover.”
Ms Brown, who is planning a return trip next year, also visited the mayor of Rikuzen-takata to ask what would help the community.
She said: “He asked for contact from the outside world, including messages for the children of the city. He fears that the children will not recover from the experience of running from the tsunami and from the loss of their friends and family members.”
Ms Brown is trying to get together donations of chocolate advent calendars to send to the children in the tsunami affected areas.
She added: “There are 27 children there who were orphaned by the tsunami, so at least 27 calendars for them will be a good target and a small token to show that we are thinking about them and we support them from as far away as East Anglia.”
• To send a postcard, letter or an advent calendar please forward to “The children of Rikuzen-takata”, Rikuzen-takata City Office, Jinaishi 42-5, Takata machi, Rikuzen-takata City, Iwate Prefecture 029-2292. Japan.
• For more information please visit the facebook page online at www.facebook.com/pages/Chocolate-Advent-Calendars-for-the-children-of-Rikuzen-takada/252794524768167