A Bridge Between Japan and Ghana
(Original in Japanese)
(Age 10, Japan <Living in Ghana>)
Ghana Japanese Children's School, Accra
"Was your grandmother in Japan all right?"
One after another, friends I saw at school asked me this question. The Great Tohoku Earthquake struck the Japanese islands on March 11, 2011. Many people lost their lives, their family members, their friends, and their loved ones in the earthquake.
Because my grandmother lives in Hokkaido, she did not have any damage. However, my aunt who lives in Ibaragi had to spend days without electricity. I could not believe that people in Japan were living without electricity.
What can we do when we are far away in Ghana, Africa? As Japanese people living in Ghana, we thought hard about this. We decided to start collecting donations inside Accra's biggest shopping mall. My younger brothers and I made our own donation boxes.
When the day came, I headed to the place where we were fund-raising, feeling nervous. Every day, I see people on the street asking us for "Money, please." I wondered anxiously: Will people really give us money?
We lined up at the entrance to a shop, and in a loud voice, we asked people passing by, "Help Japan!"
"Oh, yes, we need to help Japan." To my surprise, people passing by stopped for us, and my five-year-old brother's box in particular collected quite a lot of money.
The people of Ghana really will help Japan! My worries disappeared, and I felt truly happy. I had always thought that Japan had to help Ghana. But through this experience, I realized that people in Ghana also wanted to help Japan in a time of need. "You should bring your grandmother to Ghana," said my school teacher, who was worried for me. And a friend asked me, "If I want to send money to Japan, who should I give it to?"
The sad scenes following the earthquake in Japan were shown on TV every day. My heart ached, and my friends who watched TV were genuinely worried for Japan.In Ghana is a medical research institute named for (Japanese scientist) Hideyo Noguchi. The institute sent Ghanaian chocolate to children in Japan who were affected by the earthquake. Ghanaian chocolate is very tasty, so I'm sure it made them very happy. It was not merely chocolate, but chocolate infused with care and encouragement.
What I learned from this experience is that the world is one. Even between Africa and Asia, which are so far away, news spreads easily. Usually, Japan is the one helping Ghana, but I realized that when Japan is in trouble, people in Ghana want very much to help.
This is what I want to tell people in Japan. There are many people in Ghana who want to donate money to Japan, even though they cannot afford lunch for themselves. While we were collecting money for Japan, the lady who cleans our school happened to pass by. She carefully took out one cedi (about US $0.65) wrapped inside her handkerchief and placed it in the donation box. The people of Ghana are truly kind.
The desire to help people in need is shared by every human being. As long as people have this desire, the world will surely become a peaceful one, without war. This is what I came to feel through this experience.