Community Lends Helping Hand to Japan

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COLUMBIA - Members of MU's Japanese Student Association worked Wednesday to sell t-shirts to raise money to donate to the Japanese Red Cross for earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan.

"What I can do is donate some money and pray. And this is what I am doing, I am praying every day," said MU postgraduate student Yumi Nakamura. She left Japan a year ago and was working on her research in Columbia when the earthquake hit her home country. "I was listening to the news, but they were reporting mostly on America's west cost so I couldn't learn a lot" she said. Then she received a phone call from friends in Japan, reporting on the tragic situation there.

"After a while, people will forget about this. But right now, the people in Japan need a lot of help," said Nakamura, with hope in her voice and sad look.

"Now in Japan, many people don't have electricity due to the nuclear plant crisis. And transportation is limited," said Nakamura, relaying the situation as she knows it from family members. She said people are afraid of invisible radiation and of future earthquakes. "However they should live and work for the future of Japan. Japanese people should be tough," Nakamura said. She said she does her part by talking to the people in the States. The Japanese Student Association on campus and student volunteers started a facebook fan page called "Pray for Japan (Mizzou)," aiming to raise awareness in the community and get help for the people in need.

"We designed T-shirts saying 'Pray for Japan' and we sell them for $15 each," said Sarah Almahmoud, who began the fundraising. For one night, students gathered $1,300 and their next goal is $2,500. All the money will be sent to the Japanese Red Cross. Almahmoud said they will have 150 more T-shirts printed by Friday and everyone willing to buy one or donate money can e-mail the students at or contact them through the facebook page.