Fundraiser organized to help Japan

The newly formed Mission International Friendship Association is organizing a dinner and silent auction to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan March 11.

The district has a special connection with one Japanese city and many Missionites were immediately concerned about the well-being of Oyama residents after hearing the news.

Last Wednesday, Mission residents who visited the Asian country and formed strong friendships with those living in Oyama, met to discuss how to help.

Oyama, located about six hours away from the earthquake’s epicenter, suffered only minor damages to roads, rock walls and houses, said Mayor James Atebe.

“No lives were lost.”

However, the Japanese residents are now dealing with power black outs and supply shortages.

Kazuko Akita, Naomi Goto and Misako Katsumata have been providing updates to the district’s Kelly Ridley on a regular basis since the crisis.

Akita was the translator in 2009 when a delegation from Mission visited the sister city, and Katsumata organizes Oyama students’ visits to Mission. Ridley, a member of the Oyama Sister City Committee, has known Goto since 2005 and they have become close friends, staying at each other’s houses whenever representatives from the two cities meet.

“When the disaster struck, I e-mailed all the Mission delegates from 2009 and asked that they send a message to their host families to make sure they were safe,” Ridley told The Record.

“We then shared our messages amongst ourselves to give us some piece of mind.”

The next delegation from Oyama is expected to visit in July 2012.

There are no students in Mission at the moment, but two are expected in late July.

Mission and Oyama became sister cities in 1996.

The fundraising dinner and silent auction will take place on Friday, April 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at All Saints Anglican Church, 33077 Second Ave. A vegetable curry with rice and salad will be served. Tickets are $20 each and available from Ridley at municipal hall, Murdoch’s Book Shoppe on First Avenue, or by calling Pam at 604-302-2005.

Silent auction donations can be dropped off on the second floor of municipal hall. All proceeds will be forwarded to the Canadian Red Cross. All the major banks in Mission, including Bank of Montreal, TD, CIBC, Royal and Scotia, are accepting donations for the Canadian Red Cross. A tax receipt will be issued for donations of $10 or more.

For more information visit www.redcross.ca.