In the spring of 2011 we had an intern from Temple University and native to Okinawa, Haruka Matsushima, who was helping us expand and further enrich our sister relationship with the Niigata Association of Nonprofits. Based on her work we decided to do a series of radio interviews with the chairman of NAN, Yoji Kaneko. Lowman Henry, emeritus and former board member at PANO, through the Lincoln Radio Program, will provide engineering and broadcasting for these programs. Our plan is that we will conduct the interview in English and aired in the United States and have it translated in Japanese for the pleasure of Niigata Prefecture.
In March we heard the terrible news of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. We have been in contact with Yoji and he was already spearheading four major initiatives. They included:
- Sending fresh food products to the affected area.
- Sending basic needs to people who were without homes
- Developing a long term home town project which provides shelters for displaced persons
PANO is in the process of raising funds to be used by NAN on these projects. We also solicited for encouraging comments that could be sent to NAN. Interesting developments included a response from a woman who works with Homeland Security who offered to link them to a wheel chair company in Tokyo to acquire free wheel chairs. Liberty Extended Schools in Pittsburgh, a before and after school child care program conducted a bake sale and raised $280 for the cause. PANO will be able to send a check to NAN for about $3,000 to help with the relief effort.
Yoji Kaneko used his experience and education with PANO to help organize 100,000 international volunteers when an earthquake pounded Yamakoshi Village in 2005. Some of the temporary shelters that were built then are being used once more for the current relief work.