Taiwanese charities called on the public to continue supporting the victims of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Japan as the second anniversary of the disaster is commemorated today.
As of Feb. 28, the public have donated NT$2.57 billion (US$86.62 million) to the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China to help the disaster victims. Of the total amount donated, NT$2.49 billion was sent to the Japanese Red Cross Society for emergency relief and post-disaster reconstruction, charity officials said.
The remainder of the money will be used to fund a three-year psychological support program, rebuild a nursery school and assist the Japanese Red Cross’ overall recovery efforts, the officials said.
Following the earthquake and tsunami, Taiwan donated about US$260.64 million to Japanese quake victims, 90 percent of which came from private donors. This was the highest amount given by any country.
The charities said the donations are being used to build public housing, nursery schools, education centers, a public hospital, a welfare center and a healthcare center in northeastern Japan’s Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures — the three areas hardest-hit by the disaster.
Construction of public housing units in Miyagi and Iwate are expected to be completed by 2015, while the other projects are to be finished by the end of this year, officials said, adding that the projects would benefit about 75,500 people.
The Japanese Red Cross said it hopes to complete the projects as soon as possible so those who lost their homes can rebuild their lives.
The group’s Taiwanese counterpart said it planned to bring Taiwanese and Japanese musicians together for a concert in Iwate on March 21 to show Taiwan’s continued support for the disaster’s victims.
“We hope all the victims of March 11 can ganbare [Japanese for “hang in there”]. We send Japan our blessings,” Red Cross Society of the Republic of China president Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) said yesterday.
She also urged Taiwanese to visit the disaster areas to encourage the victims and learn more about the reconstruction efforts.
Official figures show that 15,881 people died, 2,668 went missing and more than 1.1 million houses were destroyed or damaged on March 11.
World Vision Taiwan president Tu Ming-han (杜明翰) said his charity cooperated with World Vision Japan immediately after the disaster to help rebuild Japan’s fishing industry and infrastructure in the affected areas, as well as providing scholarships and school lunches to students.
He called on Taiwanese to continue supporting the victims, especially children, to help them recover from their losses.
Another charity, World Vision International, has raised about US$53.5 million in donations for earthquake relief, US$16 million of which was given by Taiwanese, the Christian charity said, adding that its relief and recovery programs have helped an estimated 297,000 people.
Meanwhile, The Taiwan Fund for Children and Families said it has raised more than NT$50 million to rebuild schools and support children’s emergency relief and counseling programs.
Huang Shu-ling (黃淑玲), director of the secretariat of the charity, said extending assistance is part of a “cycle of love” because ChildFund Japan and other Japanese charities also extended a helping hand to Taiwan after it was hit by a devastating earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999.
Huang said that during a visit to the areas devastated by the disaster, she was impressed by the Japanese people’s strength of will and their lack of self-pity.
“I was very touched and I believe they will rise again,” she said.
Huang said her charity will continue to cooperate with its Japanese counterpart in overseeing the completion of the reconstruction projects.