By Emily Kitagawa
Halifax students, organizations and businesses worked together to hold a bazaar at the Koo-E Nami Royale Grill restaurant to raise money for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The bazaar, held on Friday and Saturday, raised close to $5,000 for the Japanese Red Cross.
Yoko Irisawa, Halifax Office Manager at Will Education Consulting, an agency that assists Japanese students studying in Canada, came up with the idea to hold a bazaar.
Lucy Jung, student manager at Halifax Life, an agency that assists Korean students while they study in Halifax, donated office space to hold a bazaar a week earlier. It raised roughly $700, but many unsold items were left over.
Irisawa and Jung approached Jeongyeo Park, President of the Dalhousie University Korean Association (DUKA), for help in holding a second, larger bazaar.
Park says individuals and local businesses donated books, clothing, shoes, food and knick-knacks.
Students and groups from Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University, NSCAD, Citadel High School, Canadian Language Learning College, King George International College, and East Coast School of Languages volunteered at the event, coordinated by Jihoon Allen Won, President of the Halifax Korean Students Society and former President of DUKA.
Irisawa says even though the volunteers are from many different nationalities they all care about what is happening in Japan. She says this has been a great opportunity for participants to get to know one another. “No matter where we are from we have one goal: we would like to help the people of Japan.”
Jung emphasized that Korea and Japan have not had good relations historically. “But that doesn’t matter.” Jung says since natural disasters can happen anywhere countries should forget about their differences and help one another when catastrophes occur.
Lyly Doan Duong, a first-year student at Saint Mary’s University, has family living in Japan. “When I heard about this news I wanted to do something,” she says. Doan Duong and Jung both agreed the Japanese and Korean communities in Halifax are beginning to feel more connected in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Ferdinand Ballesteros, one of the owners of the ikebana shop (a Japanese store on Quinpool Road), helped advertise the bazaar on the store’s Facebook page. He, like other businesses in Halifax, has been collecting cash donations in his store to donate to the Japanese Red Cross. “I really appreciate that people trust us to leave their donations here and trust us that we don’t pocket it,” says Ballesteros.
Listen to Ballesteros comment on the importance of donating to the Japanese Red Cross.Ferdinand Ballesteros clip
Park and Irisawa feel it is important to continue to help the people of Japan. “I would really appreciate if many people get involved in this community to somehow raise money for them constantly, not just now,” says Irisawa. She says the people of Japan are living a nightmare, “Maybe someday they can smile.”