Kathryn Ebert is flanked by Japanese hosts Manami on the left and Nozomi. Kathryn is holding the Japanese character for 'friend.'

Japanese disaster felt deeply by local family

Sister city exchange students' trip cancelled

Struggling to hold back tears, Donna Ebert just had to relate how she is connected with the devastation in Natori, Sooke’s sister city in Japan and one of the cities wiped out by the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

 

“Haruka is feeling very sad. A day before earthquake we went shopping for Canada trip. At that time, she was very happy and really looked forward this trip.”

 

Those are the words on an email coming from a Japanese family in Natori.

Haruka Kikuchi was to come to Sooke for an exchange visit and would have been staying with the Ebert family. Not now. Further emails say how their home was safe as their house is high on a hill. Their house may be safe but the husband’s family is among the missing and he is in the military so is being kept busy dealing with the aftermath of destruction. They are without water and gas. The sewage system was destroyed and they are very much concerned with radiation as their home is 100 kms from the nuclear plants. The emails are short with not too much detail, just enough to let the Eberts know the basic circumstances.

The school 13-year-old Kathryn Ebert attended last year in Natori is still standing although fires burn all around it. Students in Japan are very respectful of education and their schools. She said the students in Natoria clean up their own school out of respect and pride. The school is now being used for shelter.

Kathryn went on an exchange trip last year through Journey Middle School and was very much looking forward to Haruka’s visit.

“She was going to come on March 29,” said an emotional Donna Ebert, Kathryn’s mother.

Donna and the family have been in contact with the Kikuchi family and realized the trip would be cancelled. She is understandably upset, but what is more unsettling to her is the loss of contact with the host family Kathryn stayed with last year. They had not heard a thing from them for some time, but now have.

“My daughter loved that the people of Japan are very outgoing, very good to them and helpful. The other family went out of their way,” said Donna.

“You have already know I’m not going to go to Canada. I’m very sad. But I will visit to Canada someday.

See you.

Haruka.”