Takta High School before and after the Tsunami in 2011/ picture Asienspiegel
When Kazu Huggler visited Rikuzentakata in the months following the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, she found the three-storey Takata High School to be a wreck. Wanting to assist in the best way possible, Kazu turned to Mr. Tadashi Tamura, a member of the Board of Education in the Iwate Prefecture. He advised her to donate sewing machines to the school to help the students find a new direction.
By June 2011, Kazu had forged a partnership with Bernina International, the Swiss sewing machine company, and, by the end of the following year, their partnership had led to the donation of five sewing machines to Takata High School. Since then, the school has moved into a new building and the students use the sewing machines frequently.
To learn how to further motivate the students, Kazu has worked closely with Mr. Kudo, the school’s director, and Mrs. Yamaguchi, the home economics teacher, who have both helped her understand how to best support the students during this difficult period. Mr. Kudo once said: “Financial and material donations are certainly important. What is much more important is that you don’t forget about the children. Please come and visit us again.”
Inspired by this statement, which resonated with Kazu, she determined to assist the pupils by visiting them as often as possible. During these visits, she shares her experiences as a fashion designer, and teaches the pupils fashion and sewing skills as a means of finding the joy of creating something new after a period of great loss. She has now visited the school four times and, apart from one visit in 2012 when the school was closed due to a flu epidemic, she has worked closely with the students, sharing her own skills and techniques with them. Kazu has also listened keenly to the students and is inspired to hear how they are always filled with such great hope.
Kazu’s vision is to invite the students to Switzerland, so that they can gain work experience in her shop and atelier.