May 20, 2016
The Beppu Muslim Association is a community of Muslims living in Oita Prefecture headed by College of International Management Professor KHAN Muhammad T. (who is originally from Pakistan). When numerous people fled to earthquake shelters in Beppu after an earthquake struck in the early morning of April 16, 2016—one of the Kumamoto earthquakes of 2016—the Association sprang into action. Starting April 17—just one day after the earthquake—it delivered meals, including ethnic dishes from Pakistan and Indonesia, to evacuees in Beppu for 17 days.
Like Professor KHAN, most of the members of the Association are faculty, students, and alumni. They decided to provide meals to evacuees after discussing what they could do to help in the wake of the earthquake. They faced some operational challenges, but with some advice from City Hall, they were able to successfully deliver meals to five earthquake centers housed in elementary and junior high schools throughout Beppu on the very first day. Every afternoon, they began preparing food at the mosque in Beppu, and at their busiest, they were able to provide 300 meals a day. To support these efforts, Muslims living in Oita Prefecture and all over Japan sent supplies and donations.
Professor KHAN remarked on these efforts by saying, “When I see someone in trouble, I want to help them. Many of us Pakistanis have received scholarships and other support from Japan, so we want to give something back to Japan. This is why we started delivering meals. Every morning, we would call City Hall to see which earthquake shelters were open, so we knew where to deliver the meals. Since some people stayed in the earthquake shelters for a long time, we tried to avoid repeating menu items. In the end, I think this action helped us develop deeper ties with the local people, especially those in the earthquake shelters.”