GENE PARK / GPARK@STARBULLETIN.COM
Phoenix Dance Chamber performed at yesterday's fundraiser for Chinese earthquake victims. The event was held at McKinley High School and was organized by the Buddha's Light International Association of Hawaii and the Hawaii Buddhist Cultural Society.
Isle charity performance helps earthquake victims
With tens of thousands dead and aftershocks continuing to rock China, Albert Lui knows he will probably need to hold more than one fundraiser.
Lui, president of the Buddha's Light International Association of Hawaii, said yesterday's charity performance promised to be the first of many to give sustained aid to victims of the Central China earthquake.
The performance, organized by the group and the Hawaii Buddhist Cultural Society, raised more than $50,000 through $20 tickets and other donations.
"It's only the beginning," Lui said. "There was another aftershock. They need continued help."
An aftershock destroyed an additional 71,000 homes yesterday. More than 62,000 have been confirmed dead, and Premier Wen Jiabao has warned the number of dead could surpass 80,000.
About 800 people purchased tickets to the performance, with numerous performers volunteering their talent. Among them were siblings Anette and Poasa Aga, who performed a medley of a number of R&B and pop hits, including "My Girl" and "Just My Imagination."
"We did this because this is our way of donating all our heart and love to the victims," said Poasa, a 12-year-old Washington Middle School student. He and his 15-year-old sister practiced their singing and dance routines within the past week to prepare.
"We're the fortunate ones. ... If we were victims, too, we would want them to help us," Poasa said.
Dr. Thomas Tan, a physical therapist, donated beyond the $20 ticket, and plans to give more if there are more fundraisers.
"Given the circumstances, there will be more victims," Tan said after the performance. "If I can do more, I'm sure I'll help again."
All the money raised yesterday will go directly to the victims after being funneled through the Fo Guang Shan headquarters in Kaohsiung in Taiwan, said Shirley Lum, co-adviser to yesterday's event and a member of the Hawaii Buddhist Cultural Society.
"We just sat down and brainstormed," Lum said of the quick turnaround of pulling together the fundraiser. "Volunteer hours, the performers, the dancing -- not one penny stays at home. There's no overhead cost."
Lum, a teacher at McKinley High School, said the group has to go back to the drawing board to figure out more ways to raise money.
"We're hoping the charity does not end today," Lum said.
Philip Wang, the Taiwanese consul general in Honolulu, encouraged residents to continue to donate. Wang said the Taiwanese government has donated about $150 million to relief efforts.
"They need steady support because rehabilitation will take a long time," Wang said. "I urge everyone to show your love and your concern."