HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Round two for the Aloha Initiative. The local, non-profit organization welcomed another group of Japanese visitors to Hawaii. Not just any visitors - it's those most affected by the March natural disasters. This time, about 30 young students from the Fukushima prefecture have come for a three week stay.
18 year old Misaki Tadano couldn't wait to come to Hawaii. It's been a tough four months since the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear trouble devastated her hometown of Fukushima. "I'm still very scared, but I have to be strong," says Tadano.
Tadano and about 30 other grade school and high school students are staying with host families on Maui - to rest, relax, and recuperate. Their trip is part of the Aloha Initiative's drive – which started on Maui - to help bring needy Japanese to our shores.
Group leader Yumiko Nishimoto says, "100 percent of the students were affected in one way or the other, the tsunami. Some of them have lost friends or family, also in the earthquake or the nuclear power accident."
Two weeks ago, the first wave of Japanese - mostly families – arrived through the Initiative and are staying with families on Oahu and Maui for up to three months. Almost all had never met their host families until they arrived to the islands. Marian Moriguchi is the organization's liaison in Japan and helped handpick all of the visitors who've come here. "They really appreciate all this aloha spirit that they're surrounded by and also, the people of Hawaii - their generosity, their kindness. It's been a really good respite for them," says Moriguchi.
This is the first trip to Hawaii for most of these students, and they'll stay for three weeks. Tadano hopes to learn more english while she's here - and like the other kids, she's still celebrating Japan's big women's world cup soccer win. "I'm excited! I was excited. I loved the soccer game," she said with a huge smile.
Tadano says the championship has helped uplift her nation - much like the Aloha Initiative is hoping this visit will help heal these students.
Right now, no more trips are scheduled, but organizers still hope to bring more Japanese over in the future for a little R&R.