A group of student volunteers left Japan for Poland on a mission to help disabled Ukrainian evacuees who crossed the border to escape the Russian invasion of their country.
A farewell ceremony for 25 students was held in Tokyo on Monday.
They were selected from approximately 230 applicants for a program organized by The Nippon Foundation.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Kabasawa Ichiro, told them they had been unable to travel in or out of Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic. He expressed the hope that the program will give them the opportunity to learn what is happening in the world.
Saito Rinka, a student at Waseda University, said as someone born with hearing loss, she can imagine how anxious evacuees must feel and have to suppress their emotions. She said she wanted to help ease their worries and inconveniences.
The foundation says there are around 2.7 million people with disabilities in Ukraine, and while some have left the country, their support is insufficient.
The volunteers will stay in the city of Krakow in southern Poland and work with local support groups to distribute medical supplies and food.
The foundation plans to send a total of 105 students around October, while soliciting new volunteers.