07/08/2010, 00.00
JAPAN - HAITI
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Church in Japan in aid of Haiti’s earthquake victims make education their priority

The diocese of Osaka sends a group of experts and funds a new radio station - Radio Soleil - which transmits religious and education programs. The aim is to "raise the population’s level of literacy, only at 50%, and give earthquake victims a voice of hope."

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Diocese of Osaka has decided to send a team of experts to Port-au-Prince - the capital of Haiti, devastated by the earthquake – to set up a new radio, which broadcasts educational and religious programs. The goal, explains one of the leaders, "is to increase the population’s level of literacy, which has remained at only 50%.

The idea came to Junichi Hino, director of Waiwai radio station in Kyoto Prefecture and a member of the " Takatori Pilgrim church". The "Pilgrim Churches" are typical of Japanese Catholics: in practice, group of believers visit countries affected by natural disasters and to help. Last April, a Takatori group went to Haiti. Hino said: "We also experienced a devastating earthquake in the Hanshin. I know the areas affected by the earthquakes, and Haiti has reminded me in a sense of the natural disasters that hit Japan. My experiences with those of local are very similar. Also, I discovered that of the 15 radio stations in Haiti only 3 were left standing".

Unfortunately, he continues, "these are commercial, and unable to broadcast positive or useful messages. Radio Soleil, the diocesan station in Port-au-Prince, was also among those destroyed. Launched by the local Episcopal conference, it broadcast 24 hours a day: Gospel messages, education and literacy. The studio was completely destroyed, a real shame". Despite everything, however, a priest in Haiti has continued his mission.

Hino recalls how "Fr. Devin Gene began broadcasting with a makeshift machine, but for a few minutes a day. Returning from the trip, I spoke with members of the Diocese of Osaka and they decided to support the reconstruction of the studios and the resumption of broadcasts ".

One of the local leaders, Fr. Hiroshi Kanda, confirms: "We decided to help the broadcasts, because during the devastating Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 we understood the importance of hearing a voice of hope every day, which will also help the population to grow at a cultural level."

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