A JAPANESE designer is calling on Borders firms to help raise cash for her crisis-hit homeland.
Miho MacEwan Watt, along with friend Laura Stewart, is asking for goods, money or services to be donated to a silent auction held in Kelso next month in aid of the Japanese Red Cross and Save the Children.
The country is still struggling to cope following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami which hit the north-east of the island earlier this month, killing more than 11,000 people, with at least 16,700 people still missing.
It is estimated that 190,000 are living in temporary shelters, with radiation fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant even being detected in Scotland this week.
Mrs MacEwan Watt, who previously worked in Tokyo, currently lives in Bowden while working with Galashiels-based Eribe Knitwear.
Although none of her family were affected by the disaster, Mrs MacEwan Watt has been left shaken by news from back home.
She said: “It is very shocking and I have cried a lot. Even in Tokyo there is no food and power cuts. But we have had loads of people supporting us. I am surprised how generous people have been.”
Mrs Stewart, a Scottish Borders Council’s adult education worker from Kelso, added: “I am used to fundraising for various causes but this was such a terrible disaster that I asked Miho if she would like to do something.
“We have spoken to a lot of people and most of them want to help. The businesses in Kelso have been really kind, despite having recently helped the New Zealand earthquake appeal.”
Hawick Cashmere, which has an office in Tokyo, has said it has already pledged its support.
And Rosemary Eribe, founder of Eribe Knitwear, is also behind the silent auction, describing Japan as a vital trading partner for the Borders cashmere industry, representing 35 per cent of her firm’s trade.
Despite not having an office in Japan, Ms Eribe has heard first hand the devastating effects on the country of the quake and tsunami.
She told us: “Our agents are in Kobe (south of Japan) but they have offices in Tokyo and they have said it is quite depressing and like being in another war.
“There is not enough electricity so people are working in shifts of three days.
“There is very little bottled water in the shops and no tinned food because of the panic over radiation.”
She added: “I have been in business for 25 years and for 22 of those years I have been working with Japan.
“I have learned a lot from Japan in terms of doing business because it is very transparent over there.
“They are very loyal to Scotland and know more about our country than we do.”
The silent auction, along with a sales table and coffee morning, will take place on April 16 in Kelso’s Abbey Row, from 10am to midday.
For more information, contact Mrs Stewart on 07933 513428, or Mrs MacEwan Watt on 07935 283414.