Tsunami kids get koala hugs

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

DOZENS of chil­dren af­fected by Ja­pan’s dev­as­tat­ing tsunami ear­lier this year have some­thing to smile about cour­tesy of vis­i­tors and staff from the Wildlife Habi­tat.

The Habi­tat this week sent 200 toy koalas di­rectly to chil­dren at a kinder­garten run by the Soto Zen re­li­gion in the Mi­nami San­riku re­gion which was smashed by the tsunami.

Gen­eral man­ager Garry Sul­li­van worked as a vol­un­teer af­ter the 2005 Box­ing Day tsunami in Aceh, In­done­sia and knows first-hand how the koalas will lift the spir­its of the kids.

“Af­ter the Box­ing Day tsunami I saw so many dis­plays of what a pos­i­tive ef­fect sim­ple hu­man good­will can have on those suf­fer­ing, and that’s why we’ve de­cided to send 200 of our toy koalas to these chil­dren,” Mr Sul­li­van said.

“Not just as a toy, but as a re­minder to them that peo­ple do care and are shar­ing their pain and hop­ing for their even­tual re­cov­ery.”

Each of the koalas, do­nated by the vis­i­tors and Habi­tat staff, car­ries its own per­sonal mes­sage of hope and en­cour­age­ment and lets the chil­dren know there are peo­ple who care for them even half­way round the world.

“Since the tsunami, the num­ber of chil­dren at the kinder­garten has dropped from 150 to 85 stu­dents, so we just want these lit­tle furry an­i­mals to help put a smile on their faces.”

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