EXPERIENCING an earthquake firsthand prompted an Alkimos teacher to hold a fundraiser at her school this month.
St James Anglican School Japanese teacher Clara Douglas was visiting Kumamoto in Japan with two friends in April when an earthquake struck.
“We were sleeping when the main quake hit,” she said.
“We had experienced the 6.3 magnitude earthquake the night before but this one was much bigger and had us running from our room in terror as furniture fell, windows collapsed and the ground shook violently.
“In the pitch black with the sounds of sirens, the rumbling earth and cries for help, we joined hundreds of others at an evacuation centre where we spent the rest of the night in our rental car unable to sleep as the ground continued to shake.
“In the morning, we discovered that there was no electricity, no phone signal, no water and a food shortage already beginning.”
Mrs Douglas said they had no way of getting information out or discovering what was happening or a way out of Kumamoto.
“Roads had collapsed and with the threat of landslides it was not safe to leave,” she said.
“We helped the owners of our small hotel make rice balls for others and watched as people formed a line to receive water from a truck while a strawberry farmer donated a whole crop to those in need.
“Around 1pm that day we finally discovered that a road might be passable and we made our escape, driving around giant cracks in the road and passing only military vehicles that were already arriving to help with the earthquake recovery.”
Mrs Douglas said more than 49 people died in the earthquake, 3000 were injured and it left more than 44,000 homeless.
“Having experienced the earthquake and its aftermath myself, the only thing I could think as I drove away to safety, leaving those behind who could not leave their homes, was if there was any way to help,” she said.
“A St James’ fundraiser was the obvious choice.
“My students are developing a love and passion for Japanese and helping those in need is a great opportunity for them, especially when it is for a country they are learning about and discovering.
“The amount raised will go to help people, not only rebuild their homes, but their lives as well.”
The school held a Japanese dress-up day on May 4 to fundraise for the Kumamoto earthquake relief effort, collecting $903.55.