Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA

The Durable Social Innovation Alliance (DSIA) stimulates sustainable Japanese-style social innovations through entre- and intra-preneurial activities, which are enhanced by alliances among diverse partners including companies, governments and NPOs. DSIA's goal is to create new social values and knowledge, but still path-dependently based on Japanese traditional and corporate culture, technology, socio-economic behavior and past experiences. The DSIA contributes to developing human resources who will tackle social issues, as "opportunities of changes" (Drucker), with a strong mind of social innovation and entrepreneurship. By doing so, we hope to re-generate and re-activ...
Sep 24, 2013

Increased Programs for Future Survival

Children playing at the Kirarin Kids
Children playing at the Kirarin Kids

Dear Supporters of Kirarin Kids

Please excuse my delay in sending my report on the Kirarin Kids to GlobalGiving, since the Typhoon 18 which brought quite heavy rain and land slides on September 16, 2013, prevented me taking a trip there. It was too risky for me to travel and I might have been stranded in a train.

Kirarin Kids is really an amazing organization. Its staff is constantly making forward-looking moves as usual. They have now submitted documents needed for turning their organization to be recognized as an NPO, which makes them hopefully easier to secure their financial sources in the future. We will know within two months whether the status will be granted to them.

They are conducting regular children-mothers supporting sessions as they have been conducting in the past. In almost every month, they have a yoga session for both children and parents, an aroma session for mothers, music concerts, birthday parties and events, mobile toy library activities, mothers’ counseling sessions, childcare lessons supported by the UNICEF, local-food cooking sessions, baby massages, fathers’ day event, nobody perfect lectures for mothers, refreshing with a balanced ball, etc. They also have seasonable events, such as a Halloween party, evening events with bon dancing, etc. One program which is not working well is one for fathers to come to play with children. Although a session is scheduled once every month, Kirarin Kids is debating whether they should continue to offer the program, since nobody attends the session. One new program is to have a bus tour to the Tohoku New Zealand Village. It was surprising to find that children are not used to ride a bus in a collective way, since their life is more based on a family car. They added some interesting events. They are also planning to offer a lunch time coffee once a month, a bazar for exchanging used goods, and dispatched childcare experts to temporary housing areas.

With donations coming from the GlobalGiving, the Kirarin Kids started offering IT lessons for mothers starting from Sept. 30, 2013 and meeting five times. The purpose was to provide some opportunities for mothers to lean the basic of the IT operations, so that they may find some job opportunities in the future. Another type of training session is to provide English lessons for both children and mothers, so that they can be exposed to international environments. Such an early start of English for children may also trigger their future interest in learning English.

The Kirarin Kids is highly active, trying to satisfy the needs of mothers and children in Rikuzen Takata. Despite these achievements, the future for them is not certain, greatly due to increased competition caused by the nursing school. The key difference is that Kirarin Kids try to promote good and natural environments to build relations between parents and children, while a nursing school rather simply functions to take care of children while mothers are out working. Kirarin Kids seems to be promoting highly important values in the community, while mothers are showing a preference to work by leaving children at a day-care center. Your donation to support the Kirarin Kids means not only to support efforts to create good community environments for nurturing children for the future, but also to support Kirarin Kids’ belief that happy and warm parents-children relations, as it was a tradition in the Tohoku area, are indispensable to nurture the good future of children. Your support for this belief is very much appreciated, since they have a long way to go for building a nice environment.

Sincerely yours,

Yoshitaka Okada

Discussing Diverse Issues
Discussing Diverse Issues

Links:

Jun 24, 2013

Advancing Dynamically to Attract Outside Visitors

Isatomae Shop Tent
Isatomae Shop Tent

     The Isatomae shop tent still remains there, but it is closed for many days. Its usage has not been changed since my last visit. The nature school frequently uses the tent during a summer break for children, while it remains as a storage for shops in the Fukko Temporary Shopping Center located close to a shore road. But I have clearly identified the location of a new housing relocation area. As my picture shows, houses will be constructed in the nearest forest area from the tent. Since nobody is allowed to live along the coast any more, except building a shopping complex, people will move into the forest area. I am certain that this tent, being very close to the housing area, will be lively with people again as a community center.

      I visited Rikuzen Takata City first, and saw some construction of banks along the coast. But I could not find any bank construction work in Isatomae, Minami-sanriku-cho. It seems that an agreement among Isatomae residents has not yet been reached, though it seems to come very soon. They have agreed to build 8.5 meter banks along the coast and river, while the road will be elevated to 4.5 or 5.5 meters. It seems this road height is the source of disagreement. For residents, the elevated level of road determines the height of a wall created by banks, either 3.0 meters or 4.0 meters. The psychological effect of the difference will be quite big and important. Naturally, another issue is a disagreement between the government and residents whether the former has enough budget to accept local demand. So, they are getting a little bit behind relative to other cities, though they are advancing this issue democratically even asking a younger generation to develop an ideal redevelopment plan.

      Despite their delay, the local chamber of commerce is doing an excellent work to develop their local economy. The Isatomae community is too small to keep its economy going, and has to develop some mechanisms to bring outside people over weekends. They succeeded in doing so by organizing a local fish festival, a wakame (sea weeds) festival, weekend markets, a music festival organized young people, etc. It seems a reputation is well developed that if people come to Isatomae, they can always find some events and activities. In one event, they succeeded to attract about 12,000 people in the market. As a matter of fact, they have been so successful that the local police started having headache, since these events are eating into the police security budget.

     On Auguest 11, 2013, an event called “Festival for Utatsu Post: An Ocean Path which Linked People in its Drifting Trip” will be held. It involves a famous Okinawan singer, Mr. Shoei Higa, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) which owns the Japan Post Corporations, and the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce. One red post box originally located in Isatomae was swept away by the Tsunami, and then one year and nine months later, it suddenly came ashore in Iriomote Island, Okinawa Prefecture. According to a specialist, it must have drifted away to the Hawaii Islands and back to Nishi Omotejima. Mr. Shoei Higa learned about this story, and his producer decided to use this post box as a symbol of helping the Isatomae Community. One day the Minister of MIAC invited Mr. Higa, a representative from the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce, and related others to give a permission to use this box for a festival and also to develop a plan for future use by the Isatomae Community. This August 11 event will become an enormously big one, which is naturally a serious headache to the local police. Students at grade schools and junior high schools are also to write about the wonder of how this post box linked people through its ocean passage. The local chamber of commerce is also to invite a group of hula dancers from the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Fukushima Prefecture, another victim of the disaster, to symbolize the distance the post traveled. The Isatomae Community is now much more livelier than three months ago.

Inside the tent, used as a storage
Inside the tent, used as a storage
Forest Across the Tent for New Hosuing
Forest Across the Tent for New Hosuing
Fukko Temporary Shopping Center
Fukko Temporary Shopping Center
Mr/Mrs Yamauchi, Vice Director of Local CC
Mr/Mrs Yamauchi, Vice Director of Local CC

Links:

Jun 24, 2013

Stable Operations and New Additions

A child and a mother playing
A child and a mother playing

     As usual, the “Kirarin Kids” has been active in not only offering regular children’s playroom services, but also arranging diverse programs for specific purposes every month. They arranged mobile library and toys services to come to their place and also offered seminars for child health by inviting medical doctors and health advisors. Especially these child-health-related services are highly appreciated by not only parents, but also the city government. A program called “Kirarin Mama” allows mothers to engage in diverse interesting activities which are not available in the area. For example, they offer aromatic experiences, refreshing exercises with balance balls and yoga, opportunities for learning how to wear a Japanese traditional kimono and how to cook traditional local food, which the local community keenly interested in maintaining their tradition. They also have seasonal events, such as planting potatoes and other vegetables, making Koinobori for Children’s Day on May 5, and creating presents for not only Father’s Day by female members, but also Mother’s Day by male members. What is impressive is that events for fathers have been significantly increased. This originally started as a program for fathers and children who lost mothers in the disaster. As I have reported earlier, it did not work, since hardly any father of this situation attends a session. Now, instead, a program called “Kirarin Papa” was introduced. Events are offered more frequently, creating an increasing number of opportunities for fathers to play with children. The program so far has covered such activities as fathers’ cooking class, fathers’ storytelling to children, and lessons on how to play with children.

     The precious donation received from the 3.11 Japan Matching Campaign created interesting movements in the “Kirarin Kids.” Several female members expressed their interests in enriching the “Kirarin Mama” program, while the DSIA requested to use the donation for building the capability of people involved in the “Kirarin Kids.” Three Kirarin mothers are developing three programs by themselves. The first one is a computer course in cooperation with NEC. They would like to expand a course content which was previously offered by NEC, but this time with funding from the donation. The second one is to introduce English conversation class for both mothers and children, to which one English language school teacher kindly volunteered to teach. It may be quite interesting to see the outcome of this trial, since an English program for children up to age 3 is rather rare to be found in Japan, though it is naturally better to have children being exposed to English as early as possible. A part of donation money will be used for buying textbooks and covering the teacher’s transportation cost, a small amount since the teacher lives not far away from the Kirarin Kids. The third one is already offered in Otsuchi City. One bakery in Kobe volunteered to teach bread making, hoping his transfer of know-how will help the livelihood of people in the disaster-stricken area. He will give his know-how in ways that mothers, in the future, can sell bread to schools or shops, while mothers enjoy their own bread making. Once completing a program, mothers themselves receive a certificate enabling them to offer a bread making course to others. There may be some mothers’ ventures in the future. About cooking, another suggestion was made that they learn the cooking of local vegetables, and engage in creative cooking to produce “Kirarin Kids’ Recipes,” though they sounded more in favor of bread making, though. Well, it is interesting to see what the outcome of these activities will be. But at least, the three mothers are approaching quite creatively.

     As the report here indicates, the director of the “Kirarin Kids” is managing well, generating gradual advancement in their programs, and successfully increasing the number of people helping her administration. But her worry does not end, since there are currently three similar organizations in Rikuzen Takata City. In the future, the City Government may reduce this number to a smaller number, since the number of children is declining. But at present, they seem to have unique advantages owing to the quality of their programs. 

A monument children love at the Kirarin Kids
A monument children love at the Kirarin Kids
Banks along the sea shore
Banks along the sea shore

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