Thr. June 16, 2011
It’s been more than two months since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake devastated Japan and while many relief workers have already left, June Fukumura, 19, is in it for the long haul.
“Short term (help) is great but in order to connect with the people living in the shelters, it’s nice to stay longer so that they have that trust with the volunteers,” said the Canadian-born Fukumura, who departed Vancouver Wednesday for Japan to spend her summer volunteering in shelters and rebuilding damaged schools.
Fukumura, who taught English in Japan for a year after high school, still has family overseas and calls the country her “second home.” She credits that experience as one of the reasons for her trip.
“Maybe I’ll be able to give something back this time,” said Fukumura, whose parents first met while volunteering abroad in the 70s.
Fukumura encourages others, especially students, to volunteer overseas.
“If people have any sort of interest in volunteering, go for it,” said Fukumura. “There’s nothing else like it. You can’t buy that sort of experience.”
To date, more than $20 million has been raised in Canada for quake relief. Within Vancouver, relief efforts were organized through countless local schools, community groups, and businesses.