Thursday, October 6, 2011

Japan Multicultural Relief Fund members visited NPO Woori Hakkyo

Japan Multicultural Relief Fund members visited NPO Woori Hakkyo

Kyung Hee Ha

In August, Yongna Ryo, Haruki Yang-Saeng Ha/Eda and I were fortunate
enough to make our visit to NPO Woori Hakkyo. NPO Woori Hakkyo is one of
the seven recipient organizations in Japan that Japan Multicultural Relief Fund
has been working with in the ongoing efforts of recovery from the M9.0
earthquake that had hit the eastern parts of Japan.

Founded in 2008 as a non-profit organization, Woori Hakkyo has been
supporting K-12 and college students of Korean descendants in Japan, including
those attending the Ethnic Korean schools (a.k.a. Woori Hakkyo, literally
translates to “Our School” in Korean language) and Japanese schools.

Tohoku Korean school (in Sendai) and Koriyama Korean school (in Koriyama)
are located in the disaster region, and Koriyama Korean school is located less
than 40 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The students of
Koriyama Korean schools were quickly transferred to Niigata Korean school, and
they have not been able to return ever since.

NPO Woori Hakkyo staff members, Mr. KIM Yong Hun and Mr. PARK Kyung Ho
told us that the decontamination of the ground at Koriyama Korean school is not
fully funded by the national or municipal governments because Korean schools
are not recognized as “legitimate” schools by the Japanese law. Similarly,
Tohoku Korean school will not receive any financial support to rebuild their
school building that was destroyed by the earthquake. Being excluded and
isolated, Korean schools and communities still strive to recover--physically,
materially and psychologically--from the unprecedented scale of
destruction. NPO Woori Hakkyo, in conjunction with other Korean community
organizations, has been playing a central role in the recovery efforts, and they
continue to do so.

“I am very grateful for their generosity in sparing time to meet with us despite
their busy schedules. The meeting was personally rewarding for me because I
had only been able to communicate over emails with those who are doing the
work for community recovery in Japan. Even though it is no longer international
news these days, the people’s sufferings and struggles continue to be everyday
reality, and I hope we can strengthen this network of solidarity even further.”

“It was very honorable to meet with staff members, and I really appreciate them
for making the time to talk with us. It had a huge meaning for me to hear
information about the reality of our people and community, and their continuous
struggles in Japan directly from the people who have actually been there and
seen what have been going on, especially because it was extremely difficult to
hear through the media or other sources. I was also glad to hear that our work in
USA could become their support on the recovery, and I would like to keep our
work for the community recovery.”

Holding 2 sheets full of love and strength that people from the Bay Area, San Diego,
Seattle, Seoul and many other places shared in solidarity with students, teachers and
parents of Tohoku and Koriyama Korean schools!
(from L to R: Kyung Hee, Mr. Park, Haruki, Mr. Kim, and Yongna)

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