Japan Earthquake: Origami Birds as a Sign of Hope
Japanese staff members working for the UN Agencies in Vienna started a charity initiative in favor of the Red Cross. By Emilie Goller and Gabriela Hartig.
When walking through the Vienna International Centre (VIC) these days you see a new colour on display. The well known blue colour associated with the United Nations has been joined by the signalling red of the Red Cross. All over the VIC you see the Red Cross attached to wooden boxes, in which donations for the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami are collected.
Two Japanese women make grateful gestures when they receive the many donations. As reward for the support, every donor gets a carefully folded origami bird prepared by the organisers and their families.
These handmade origami artworks have become a sign of solidarity and are spread to every corner of Vienna's UN city. Hundreds of people are visiting the building every day and many made their contribution and received wonderfully folded birds.
The initiative was brought up by members of the voluntary network of Japanese staff members working for the UN Agencies in Vienna (UNVJ), right after the earthquake and the following tsunami. “Over the weekend we exchanged e-mails, on Monday we started planning, and since Wednesday we are collecting money for the Japanese Red Cross”, says Keiko Hanamitsu, who is an employee of the IAEA in Vienna. The Red Cross was selected because we know it is a reliable partner that carries out excellent work in Japan.
This Tuesday, musician of Japanese origin showed support to the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami by giving a charity concert in the VIC. Classic tunes, violins and Yasushi Hirano`s baritone created a moment of pace and quietness in the crowded building.
UNVJ`s Japanese community counts about 100 members, but the solidarity was even greater. “We are having a lot of experienced people here in the VIC and many supported us with the organisation of the charity-initiative and many, many more made a donation”, says Toshiaki Ono, who acts as focal point for the UNVJ initiative.
The collected money will be transferred to the Japanese Red Cross at the end of March. On behalf of UNVJ, Keiko Hanamitsu and Toshiaki Ono are hoping that many victims are going to benefit from their and other peoples support – regardless of their origin.