Our friend Tsukasa had planned to get married on March 12th – the day after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed entire towns along the northeastern coast of Japan. Luckily, his fiancée and his family were unharmed, but his neighbours, his home, all his possessions, and $10,000 that he had saved up for a honeymoon in Mexico were all lost in the tsunami.
Three weeks later, he offered to show us around his town and give us what was essentially a guided, personal tour of the damage and the effect this tragedy had on him and the people of his town, Soma. To say it was surreal, confronting and heartbreaking would be a huge understatement – each of us were deeply moved by the experience and Tsukasa himself immediately won us over with his good humour and warmth.
His story is not unique. There are thousands of others who have experienced similar hardships and losses. However, after he so kindly invited us into such a deeply personal part of his life, and after witnessing him confront his losses with such humility and strength, we decided we needed to help.
Tsukasa and his family own and operate Haragama Youchien, a kindergarten in Soma. All 64 of their students were safe from the tsunami as they were aboard a bus being driven by Tsukasa when the massive wave destroyed their neighbourhood. Twenty-seven students lost their homes and are now living in evacuation centers. Many families are now without incomes, as various businesses in the area were also washed away. Fortunately, thanks to being located atop a small hill, the kindergarten itself was untouched by the tsunami. They are already planning to re-open and resume lessons on April 11th – exactly one month after the tsunami ravaged their community – free of charge.
On top of this, despite their own personal losses, and with the help of some of the students’ mothers, Tsukasa and his family have taken it upon themselves to provide hot meals and offer a bus service to and from the kindergarten for each student, beginning April 20th. Due to the lack of income and essential resources in the Soma area, we have decided to help Tsukasa in this noble endeavour by providing them with the food, supplies and financial support they need until life in Fukushima begins to return to normal and they can operate efficiently once again.
Thanks to the generous donations we have secured from businesses and other NPOs alike, Tsukasa already has enough food to provide his students with hot meals for the immediate future. However, he still needs our help to cover the kindergaten’s operating costs. By donating, you will be helping to replace destroyed white goods, food preparation supplies and teaching materials, as well as helping cover delivery, transportation and tuition costs which Tsukasa and his family had originally planned to cover by themselves.
Ensuring the welfare and quality of life of the students of Haragama is our first priority. However, by helping Tsukasa himself shoulder this burden, we also hope we can grant him and his family the time and peace of mind they so deserve to begin rebuilding their own lives in Soma. By helping the students of Haragama, you will also be helping the man whose selflessness and heart was the inspiration for all of our efforts so far.
Billy, Darren, Danny, Sayaka, Haruka, Vinnie and Kevin
how to donate
For those outside the Fukushima area, you can donate money at any time directly to our PayPal account by simply clicking on the button at the top of this page. If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can make a donation via credit card by entering your details and clicking ‘continue.’
If you would like to make a non-monetary donation, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you in Fukushima, aside from asking for donations, we will be doing various fundraising activities over the next two or three months in order to raise money for Tsukasa, Haragama and the city of Soma. We will be sending out info about these activities to guests of Hearts for Haragama on Facebook, so please RSVP, save the date and get involved!
You can keep up-to-date on donation goals and where your money is going by checking back on this website. If you would like to host your own fundraising event, whether you’re in Japan or anywhere else, please drop us a message at email@example.com.