Japan Tsunami Survivors: Children Call for Support
After surviving the earthquake and tsunami that killed their loved ones in Japan, children from the devastated country came to New York City to raise money and awareness about childhood grief and trauma.
Children involved with the Tokyo-based group called Ashinaga held a fundraiser in Times Square on Thursday.
16-year-old Shoya Kasa lost his mother in the March 11th tsunami.
[Shoya Kasai, Mother Died in Tsunami]:
"We share the same very difficult experience. It's nice that we can share our same feelings."
Ashinaga is a non-profit group that offers financial and emotional support to children who have lost one or both parents through disaster, illness, accident, or suicide.
Ashinaga also offers support to orphans at its Rainbow Houses in Kobe and Tokyo.
The organization plans to open a Rainbow House in Sendai.
And every summer, Ashinaga hosts summer camps where children from all over the world can come and share their feelings.
16-year-old Maria Kusaka lost her father in the tsunami.
She wants the world to know that the people in Japan are trying hard to move forward.
[Maria Kusaka, Father died in Tsunami]:
"Japan has been devastated by the earthquake, but I want the world to know we are doing our best."
During the fundraiser, passersby eagerly opened their wallets and donated cash to the group.
Pam Sugihara read about the group and came to Times Square to donate money
[Pam Sugihara, Ashinaga Supporter]:
"I've been reading much about the terrible disaster. I feel very sad about what's going on over there. So it was a way for me, while I was here today, to just stop by and say hello and give my support."
Also helping to raise money were Ashinaga group members Hilary Strauch whose father died in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Wilborn Nobles whose mother died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Before the fundraiser, the young members of Ashinaga spoke about losing their loved ones.
[Sayaka Sugawara, Tsunami Survivor]:
"The tsunami took my mother and my grandmother. My great-grandmother is still missing. Our house was seven or eight kilometers away from the sea. No one ever imagined such a big tsunami."
These children seem to know that when bereaved children come together, they learn that grief, like healing, is universal.