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Fund-raising (From Chubu Weekly)

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This year BRC-J volunteers raised 800,000 yen, introduced a number of
interested educators and students to the Burmanet and pushed the Pepsi
boycott and anti-tourism campaign vigorously.  

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October 26, 1995  (Slightly edited)

Japan Association of Language Teachers
  95 Conference in Nagoya 


By Sarah Wittenbrink

The refugee bazaar has been an annual event at the national
JALT conference for the past eight years, but it's not just for
the money.  

"It's not only fund - raising but also consciousness - raising,"
said Dorothy A. Pedtke, an English teacher at Kobe and one
of the founders of the project.

Volunteers sell crafts made by displaced persons of
Southeast Asia and proceeds go directly back to the refugee
camps.  "Many of the things we sell were made by refugees
along the borders" of Burma (Myanmar), Thailand and the
Thai- Cambodian border, by Hmong and Cambodians she

The Burmese bazaar for refugee relief will be held on the
second floor outside the poster session room.

Goods sold at the bazaar range from pencil bags and eye-glass cases of hand - woven cotton from
Sangklaburi and
Chiang Mai to large shoulder bags, Nepalese woolen
blankets, Christmas cards, and items from the Soto - shu
and Refugees International - Japan that are similar to
Hmong handicrafts.  There will also be refugee related
books, cards and calendars.

Before coming to Japan to teach English in 1983, Pedtke
worked at refugee camps in the Philippines for two years. 
There, she met Ken and Visakha Kawasaki, the other two
founders of the project who teach in Osaka at Seifu Institute
High School.

"The Kawasakis worked in refugee camps in Thailand
before (the Philippines) teaching English, vocational skills,
and cross - cultural training for refugees accepted to U.S.
processing centers," Pedtke said.

The three started a refugee assistance association offering
moral support and occasional donations for college tuition
to refugees starting over in Japan.  

"Some people are even starting to pay back the money they
got for college," Pedtke said.  "But now all of the money we
get goes to Burmese in camps along the borders, mostly for
medical supplies and rice.  We also collect old clothes and
ship them."

Last year, about 1,000,000 yen was raised at the JALT
conference, "Good money when you (exchange) into Thai
baht," quipped Pedtke.

Because of the Kawasaki's generosity, nearly every yen goes
into the Burmese refugee camps.

"The Kawasakis spend their own money to buy goods in
Thailand and don't take any back (to reimburse
themselves)," Pedtke.

Items from other refugee organizations that are on sale are
reimbursed, but even then about 10 percent of the price
goes to the Burmese refugee fund and the rest to other
worthy relief projects.

Asked if she had been to the refugee camps she works so
hard to help, Pedtke said, "I went once.  I think it's
something everyone should see once.  But now I just give
the money I would have spent on a ticket to the Kawasakis
and they go and buy an artificial leg for someone or
something like that.  It's kind of neat."