Japanese Student Helping Widow Recover From Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/06/05

Japanese Student Helping Widow Recover From Katrina

He says he just wanted to help.

Now after thousands of miles of travel, a Japanese student is doing just that.

Five years ago Yu Fukami went to stay with Ruth Baker at her Harrison County home as a foreign exchange student.

He says after he found out Katrina had damaged the widow's farm, he was determined to come back and pitch in.

In Japan 22-year-old Yu Fukami is a college student.

For two weeks he'll be a volunteer farmhand in Harrison County.

His labor of love is for Ruth Baker, the woman he affectionately calls "Granny."

"When I called her, I thought she just needs help," said Fukami. "I asked my parents to borrow some money because I just wanted to help."

This isn't Fukami's first time to stay on the 39 acre farm.

Back in 2000, he was a high school exchange student struggling to adapt to new culture.

He says Granny made that difficult time a little easier."

Fukami said "I was terrible to speak English so it was hard to stay but it was a great experience for me. She's kind. She's got a warm heart. She taught me a lot about American culture."

Ruth Baker says she was deeply touched when Yu called saying he wanted to come from thousands of miles to help.

"In the situation like I'm in. A widow lady. With all these fences down, all these trees down and half the building gone," said Baker. "Two more hands was a help and the heart that he has is so big. It's indescribable how much I appreciate it."

Baker has hosted exchange students like Yu for 22 years.

Since the storm she's gotten calls from around the world from people whose lives she hadn't realized she'd touched so deeply.

"I asked God for a ministry I always thought I wanted to be a foreign missionary and He said you stay at home your table is blessed. So I have talked to over 100 students with the message I have and Yu is proof it got through," said Baker.

Baker says although they come from different backgrounds, the bond she's formed with Fukami makes him like part of the family.

Fukami says his university in Japan agreed to allow him to come to the United States and even offered him college credit for volunteering.

He says when he goes back he plans to tell people about the devastation in Mississippi because most people in his country have only heard about what's going on in New Orleans.

By Danielle Thomas

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