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A family of Japanese-Brazilians who had their homes wiped away by the massive March 11 tsunami are now trying to rebuild their lives in Brazil. Luckier than tens of thousands of other tsunami refugees who are still living in shelters, the family were bought back to their birth country by Brazil's foreign ministry.
When Roseli Takashi and her sister-in-law, Mary Takashi, heard the tsunami alerts in the northeastern city of Onagawa on March 11, they raced out of their homes with their daughters in time to save themselves. But their homes were not spared.
Both women of Brazilian and Japanese citizenship had to spend days in a cramped school gym sharing the scarce water and food supplies that arrived to one of the country's worst-hit areas.
Their daughters, Michelle and Marina, aged 13 and 9, were also born in Brazil but left for Japan as babies and never learned to speak Portuguese. Now, nearly two months after the disaster, the Takashis are struggling to restore their lives in Brazil's business capital of Sao Paulo.
They were located by Brazilian volunteers nearly ten days after the quake and brought back to their birth country along with other nationals by Brazil's foreign ministry.
It is in the downtown district of Liberdade that the Takashis find a slice of Japan and feel more at home at least twice a week. Roseli says the girls are having a difficult time adapting, and miss the friends they left behind without saying goodbye.
Marina and Michelle usually frown when they are spoken to in Portuguese. But they are working hard to change that with the free lessons they are taking at the Japanese-Brazilian Culture Center.
Mary Takashi, whose Japanese husband stayed behind to rebuild their home, says she can only thank everyone in Brazil for giving her the strength to start from scratch.