• Kyodo


A 10-year-old boy from New York City who lost his father in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and is going blind because of posttraumatic stress disorder will visit Japan to participate in an international exchange.

Ashinaga, a nonprofit Japanese organization supporting children who lose their parents in accidents or through illness, will host the 10-day international exchange from Aug. 3.

The father of Walter Matuza, a fourth grader, worked as an analyst for a financial institution located on the 92nd floor of the North tower of the World Trade Center.

Shortly after the terror attacks, he called his wife, Denise, to say airplanes had smashed into the twin buildings and that he would evacuate and return home.

But Matuza, 39, along with some of his 70 colleagues did not make it out of the building.

Walter was devastated by his father’s death.

In January this year, Walter complained to his mother that his vision was failing. Doctors diagnosed him with an eye nerve problem stemming from stress induced by the terrorist attacks.

Walter has lost sight in his right eye and has difficulty seeing with his left.

Denise, 35, and Walter’s two younger brothers will accompany him on the trip to Japan.

Denise said she is hoping for a miracle and for Walter to recover his sight during the trip. She said she also hopes Walter learns something from the exchange.

Walter is looking forward to seeing Japanese toys and electronics when he visits, Denise said.

Dozens of children from around the world, including Afghan children who lost their parents in the recent military activity in their country, will participate in the event, according to the Tokyo-based organization.

In addition to Walter, children from three other families who lost parents in the terror attacks will take part in the event, the organization said.

The event will include a camp in Hyogo Prefecture, where the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit in 1995.

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