Responding to earthquakes throughout the world, Kit witnessed the tragic loss of life – including countless children – when buildings failed needlessly. In various disaster sites following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Kit passed large, old, multi-story school buildings occupied by hundreds of children. While these structures did not collapse in the 2010 earthquake due to their distance from the epicenter, he found them to be among the most dangerous buildings in Haiti.
Tormented by memories of earthquake-collapsed schools and deceased children, Dr. Miyamoto created Miyamoto Relief, a 501(c)3 charity organization, to help rebuild and strengthen dangerous school buildings in seismically at-risk communities.
Dr. Miyamoto is also CEO of the structural engineering firm, Miyamoto International and a Seismic Safety Commissioner in California. Under his leadership, more than 15,000 projects have been successfully completed worldwide.
Inspired by Miyamoto Relief’s mission, Sabine joined us in 2013 to help rebuild an earthquake-damaged school building in Cite Soleil, Haiti. Cite Soleil is the most impoverished community in the Western Hemisphere. The school was the only public secondary school for Cite Soleil children.
Learning that school buildings suffer the highest collapse ratio in earthquakes and kill hundreds of children annually and that few humanitarian organizations have the necessary technical capacity to tackle this children-rights issue, Sabine became dedicated to advocating for safe schools globally and proactively implementing programs to rebuild at-risk schools.
Similarly, after earthquakes, scores of world heritage buildings are torn down; there is common belief that repair and strengthening are not feasible or are cost-prohibitive. On behalf of Miyamoto Relief, Sabine advocates for the preservation and safeguarding of world heritage buildings through our cultural heritage restoration projects.
Jini joined Miyamoto Relief shortly after the 2015 Great Nepal Earthquake, which killed nearly 9,000 people, destroyed more than 30,000 classrooms and collapsed or heavily damaged more than 580 important cultural heritage buildings. It came as a shock to Jini that school buildings and buildings of historical importance are not as resilient in earthquakes as they should be.
Jini believes that the ability to create safer classrooms and protect a country’s history and culture is rewarding work but will have a long-lasting positive impact on her country and its ability to bounce back. Creating awareness and working towards greater resilience in Nepal drives Jini in her dual role as Miyamoto Relief Nepal’s Program Manager and member of the Nepal Board of Directors.
Dr. Akira Wada is a Professor Emeritus at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He graduated from the Department of Architecture and Building Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1968, and completed the master’s course in 1970. He then became a member of the Structural Engineering division of Nikken Sekkei Ltd., one of the largest architecture and engineering design firms in Japan.
His research interests include the structural engineering of architecture and buildings, seismic design, seismically isolated structures, damage-controlled design, and computer simulation of structures. Dr. Wada currently serves as president of the Architectural Institute of Japan and as a member of the Science Council of Japan.