Please accept my apologies for the lapse of information from RenewYamada. Part of my excuse stems from being blessed with a new full life, filled with plenty of work and projects, since arriving in Japan. The other reason is due to the difficulty we have faced in deciding which direction Renew Yamada will take and how we can best use our talents and resources. I hope that this article will provide a summary of our efforts so far and our plans for 2012.
Traveling to Yamada and trying to find our niche has not been as easy as first imagined. It takes 7-9 hours to get to Yamada (or any other Tohoku town) and the cost is equal to a mini vacation. The thousands of volunteers who travel to Tohoku every week are not as fortunate as I and have difficulties finding a place to stay. Many travel all night on buses and return the next night, as most inns and hotels that were not washed away are often filled with evacuees and relief workers.
I made several trips to Yamada this year to try to access how Renew Yamada could be most useful. Emi and I deliberated often, over Skype about what we could do with the funds we have collected and hope to continue to collect, with the connections we have and the resources and talents that are available to us. We could easily give the money to the city of Yamada, but they would disperse it without us knowing who got what and for what. The idea of picking a person or family in need goes against the grain of Japanese culture. The recipient would feel bad if they received something and others didn’t. We even thought we could do what some anonymous soul did in Miyagi a few months back, when he or she left a huge bag of cash in a public place with instructions for it to be used to help the people of Tohoku.
We are pleased to announce that we think we have found the perfect fit for Renew Yamada. Funakoshi Elementary, the only school in Yamada that was washed away, will be our focus in the coming years. The students who survived the tsunami are presently using a temporary location. The city of Yamada has plans to build them a new school. I will meet with the principal in early January and make plans for various ways that we can assist, support and work together with the students of Funakoshi Elementary.
Some of our ideas are to assist in purchasing books for the school’s library and computers for the students. One of our friends from the Henderson Library hopes to put together donations of easy English books. Two schools in Las Vegas will loosely adopt Funakoshi as a sister school. These schools hope to write letters, exchange videos and pictures to create relationships between the children as well as holding a collection for needed supplies. We also hope to periodically bring visiting English teachers and entertainers to the school to share their talents. In addition, we have plans for a group of university students from Tokyo University’s Engineering department to visit Funakoshi and conduct some creative seminars to hopefully spark interest of the children in the fields of innovative design and science. Our intent is to create some long-term bonds and memorable experiences that could shape the future of these children and their precious howntown.
In October, Emi and Miki and many of their friends held a fund-raiser at the Aki Matsuri in Las Vegas with the Japanese community. The dance team they belong to, Meccamee, performed an inspirational dance. They sold Renew Yamada T-shirts and Miki sold many bottles of her Koto Ginger dressing (with proceeds going to RenewYamada). The feedback and support we received has been overwhelming.
We all have talents and resources we can share. If you are moved to help in any way, it will be greatly appreciated. Anyone interested in purchasing a t-shirt please contact Emi (firstname.lastname@example.org,) or Ginger dressing please contact Miki (email@example.com). If you’d like to make a donation our pay-pal link is on our home page. Or if you have any ideas or comments please feel free to contact us. The best way to stay informed is to subscribe to this website. You will receive a periodic e-mail whenever I update with a new post. It’s simple and free. Now that the sensitivity of photographing and interviewing people has lessened, I hope to document and share our progress in Yamada throughout the year.
Thank you all sincerely, for your love, concern and support. We wish the best of good health, peace and joy to you all.