Back from Japan, Abbotsford man begins fundraising efforts

Michael Luzia of Abbotsford returned home from Japan only a few days ago, but he has already begun his efforts to help the devastated nation.

Michael Luzia of Abbotsford returned home from Japan only a few days ago, but he has already begun his efforts to help the devastated nation.

Luzia shares his experience of surviving the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami with a school in Langley tomorrow (Wednesday). He has also begun contacting other schools that have Japanese language programs.

He also wants to connect with Rick Hansen Secondary, from which he graduated in 2002.

Luzia said, by sharing his story, he hopes to motivate fundraising and increase awareness about the impact the disaster has had on Japan.

Specifically, he wants to set up a fund to help people in his Japanese hometown of Onagawa, a small fishing village in northeast Japan that was destroyed by the tsunami on March 10.

More than half of the village’s population of about 10,000 is believed to have perished.

“What I really want is to help kids,” he said, adding that many children were orphaned in the disaster.

Luzia lost his apartment – and everything in it – but was not at home when the earthquake and tsunami struck. He was on the nearby island of Izushima, teaching at a small school that was on high land and was spared any damage.

His students, most of whom lost their parents, have been housed at the school ever since because there is nowhere else for them to go, Luzia said.

He arrived back in Canada last Thursday, and is now staying with his family in the Bradner area of Abbotsford.

He said it has been a difficult adjustment.

“I’m happy to see my family, but I was walking around the supermarket today, and it felt surreal. There was so much food on the shelves,” he said.

Luzia recommended that people interested in supporting his efforts donate to the Japanese Red Cross, until he is able to set up a local fund.

Watch abbynews.com for a more detailed account of Luzia’s experience.