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Staff and students donate t-shirts for Tsunami victims

York St John University staff and students have launched an appeal to help Tsunami victims rebuild their lives by turning t-shirts into sandals. 

The seaside village of Takashirahama was completely destroyed by the Tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, with every house except one storehouse being washed away.  After much consideration the community looked at how they could regain the power to live.  They decided to embark on a project of making sandals out of t-shirts.  The Japanese word for these sandals is “Nunozor” and they are designed to be worn indoors. 

York St John University was made aware of the project by one of its Japanese alumni, Tomoko Aonuma, who is supporting the project as a volunteer.  Tomoko has been working hard to promote the project globally; successes include an appearance on national television in Iceland.  

Tomoko said: “I thought and thought about what I could do for the people affected by that big earthquake and Tsunami.  And I reached the conclusion that I should go and see the stricken areas to know what I could do.  What I saw at Takashirahama was the whole town reduced to the rubble.

“Now the residents get together in the assembly hall every day and apply all their energies to the making of T-shirt sandals - whilst smiling and laughing!  It takes one whole day to finish one pair of the sandals but the makers get money if their own work is sold.”

York St John University alumni development manager Brett Arnall, alumni officer Pauline Milner and Japanese student Yukiko Wada are working together to support the project. From 1 June 2012 a bright red post box will be in the University’s main reception in Holgate, enabling staff and students to donate unwanted (and clean) t-shirts to send to Japan in support of this project.

Yukiko Wada is one of the York St John University students that the Lord Mayor of York named as one of the recipients of his Young Volunteers Award. 

The University’s Alumni Development Office is also working with Tomoko to get a shipment of the slippers delivered to the University for those who wish to purchase a pair.

Alumni development manager, Brett Arnall said: “Tomoko sent some of the handmade sandals to us recently, and you have to see them to believe how wonderfully they have been made.  We are looking forward to sending out t-shirts to support the project and we are sure that we will get a lot of support from University staff and students.” 

For further information on the project please e-mail alumni@yorksj.ac.uk