Fundraiser to help tsunami orphans

CHAMPION – A fundraiser will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at Kent State Trumbull to raise funds, assistance and awareness for Japanese tsunami orphans.

Kimi Itagaki-Lynch, a graduate student at KSU and staff member, and Joyce Amick, academic coordinator, both with the Kent State University Trumbull Learning Center, explained the orphans lost their parents in the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, and are struggling with many hardships, both mentally and economically.

“The orphans need our help,” Itagaki-Lynch said.

The event will take place in the lower commons of the Classroom / Administration Building.

Various Japanese items will be sold, and there will be crafts, a basket raffle with assorted Japanese snacks and souvenirs.

“This is the second year for the event. We want to do what we can to help the orphans,” Amick said.

Itagaki-Lynch and her husband, an American English professor who had been teaching in Japan for several years and currently teaches at Kent State at Trumbull, were in Japan last summer and were able to see the needs of the children.

Six members of the learning center will help at the event.

On March 11, 2011 , an earthquake led to an enormous tsunami and nuclear accident.

“When I watched the TV screen that day and the following days, I could not believe what had happened to my country. More than 19,000 people lost their lives,” Itagaki-Lynch said.

She said she was depressed for a few months after the disaster.

“Each time I learned the personal stories of the victims, I could not stop crying and feeling deep compassion for those victims,” Itagaki-Lynch said.

She moved to the United States 10 years ago, and all her family who lived in Tokyo were fine. She still felt like the many victims were family and friends.

“I and my husband decided to continuously support the victims and donate as much as we can afford,” she said.

In 2012, the first fundraiser was held to raise money and awareness.

“I am especially concerned about those children who lost their parents in the tsunami and others whose parents lost their jobs and assets. I don’t want those children to lose educational opportunities due to economic reasons. They have experienced enough grief by losing their parents and/or their homes,” she said.

Itagaki-Lynch said they plan to match the funds that are raised.

Last year, videos were shown about the aftermath of the tragedy.

“The theme of one video was ‘Arrigato,’ reflecting the Japanese people’s response of ‘thank you’ to America,” she said.

Itagaki-Lynch and Amick said that in addition to short-term support, the victims need long-term economic recovery so that they can be independent, live as fully as before and raise their children by themselves.

“What we can do now is to continue raising money and the awareness that these people are still in great need,” Itagaki-Lynch said.