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Apr 16, 2019

Disaster Recovery Spring 2019


Spring Greetings!
 
It is hard to believe that it has been more than eight years since the devastating earthquake and tsunami. You have helped us assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in further rebuilding their lives. Recovery and rebuilding take years. People are still living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are still significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time and the occurrence of devastating natural disasters in other parts of Japan, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations being made for Tohoku continue to drop.
 
Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood and to repay the significant debts they incurred after the earthquake and tsunami is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.
 
Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment.  
A local resident built an Oyatsu Rose Garden near the land where her mother perished in the tsunami to calm the souls of those who perished in the tsunami and so that former residents and visitors can once again see beauty when they first enter Ogatsu.  It is also a place where families go to grieve the loss of their loved ones in the tsunami.  The garden keeps growing every year and now includes a small grove of olive trees.  The garden cannot be maintained without the support of volunteers. 
 
Since our last report, we have been working hard to raise money so that we can continue to bring children and their caregivers from Tokyo Area children’s homes to Miyagi Prefecture by bus to volunteer, gain greater confidence and learn about disaster preparedness.  For example, we held a Spring Charity Concert in Tokyo in March. We have also been meeting with the children’s homes to plan and organize more of these volunteer trips for the children this coming summer and fall.  We also are organizing a volunteer weekend to bring a group of adult volunteers to Tohoku in the fall. 
 
These volunteer trips are very impactful on the children and their caregivers.  For the children who are the beneficiaries of volunteer activities at their children’s home, these volunteer trips are an opportunity to experience volunteering themselves, to gain new experiences and life skills, to gain further self confidence and to learn about sustainability. The children greatly appreciate the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced. Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their children’s homes and at their schools to volunteer in the future.  
 
With your generous support, we have been able to bring an ever increasing number of children and their caregivers to Tohoku for volunteering.  In 2016, we brought 24 volunteers from one Tokyo Area children’s home to Tohoku.  In 2017, we brought 77 children and their caregivers from nine children’s homes to Tohoku.  And last year (in 2018), we brought 90 children and their caregivers from nine children’s homes to Tohoku.  This year we are striving to offer this volunteering experience to even more children and their caregivers.  Thank you very much for making all this possible!
 
There is still so much to be done and there are still many people in need of encouragement and support in Tohoku.  With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to help farmers and others in Tohoku as they continue to work hard to rebuild their lives. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued generosity, for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku and for helping provide these life changing volunteer opportunities to so many children living in children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area.  
 
Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.  
Mar 20, 2019

Youth Impact Spring 2019 Report

Thank you to our generous supporters of the Youth Impact program. Our contributions have allowed us to sustain our projects and our affiliate programs, such as the LIVES Food Truck. We are looking forward to sharing the updates with you in this post.

 There are two projects that our students have most connected to: our projects to empower and teach at risk children through art and English and our LIVES Food Truck.

 Through experience, we have learned about the positive impact art can have on children`s development, particularly for children who struggle with PTSD due to abuse and neglect from their parental figures. Separation from blood relatives and the stigma surrounding this vulnerable group further compound the problem. Our organization has tried to support this vulnerable demographic by going to their shared homes once a month a month to teach English and art, and to provide them positive adult interaction.

 Since December, we have been able to do 3 projects. Our most creative programs were our Christmas and Valentines lessons which was taught by our Youth Impact team. For Christmas we had cookie and candy cane decoration, along with other fun activities. For Valentines Day, we exchanged handmade cards and candies. The children loved being able to create and work with our young volunteers. We are looking forward to doing more fun projects with our Youth Impact members and vulnerable children in the spring. As cross cultural understanding is also a very important part of our education programs, the next lesson will have a St. Patrick`s theme.

 Additionally, we are very excited to announce the Youth Impact`s special collaboration with the Designing Artists Academy, a summer art therapy camp for 40 vulnerable children in Tokyo. Our youth will be leading their own art sessions and mentoring the children. We are very much looking forward to joining this innovative program, and encourage you take a look at the Designing Artists Academy page on global giving: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/designing-artists-academy/

 Finally, our LIVES Food Truck continues to evolve, in large thanks to our generous donors.

 Securing locations to sell our healthy food has proven to be the most challenging aspect of the LIVES Food truck. Fortunately, we have been able to partner up with two universities in Tokyo who have helped us to secure a permanent time slots to sell food every week on their Showa campus in Setagaya-ku. British School in Tokyo, Showa University, and within a year, Temple University will all be on the same campus. We are looking forward to offering students from all three schools healthy dishes once a week.

 Meeting this goal is the biggest testament to the LIVES food truck`s legitimacy, and the belief that our disabled employees are fully able to serve food and interact with new customers. We are both humbled and grateful for the university`s faith in us, and we to hope to expose our inclusive model to as many young people as possible.

 Finally, we have partnered with other local NPOs who specialize in empowering differently abled people. In January, we participated in a winter festival for special needs children and their families, where we served 200 cups of healthy vegetarian soup. We will be selling our meals again at another event in the early spring hosted by Acceptions NPO.

 Acceptions shares The LIVES Food Truck mission of empowering down syndrome individuals and creates powerful inciatives to raise awareness, such as the Buddy Walk on March 31st in the Shibuya Area. This parade is an unique opportunity for special needs individuals to march with an escort through Tokyo. We will be selling our food at the event and hopefully catching some walkers before and after the walk. If you are in Tokyo, we hope to see you there.

 We want to say a big thank you again to our donors. Without your support, we would not have been able to begin this journey in the first place. We have grown and showed Japan what an inclusive and empathetic society for special needs and vulnerable children could look like. We are equally excited to see our students learn, provide much needed support to communities in need, and become leaders at our volunteer projects. We are so grateful that you also believed in our vision and decided to make an investment in us. We look forward to updated you in three months time and hope you will consider another investment in us.

Mar 13, 2019

LIVES Food Truck Spring Report 2019

Thank you to our generous donors and supporters of the LIVES Food Truck. Your donations have allowed us to expand in tangible ways. In 2019, we have not only increased the amount of students and employees that work with the LIVES Food truck, but also secured locations to sell our food, are actively collaborating with other NPOs, and cultivated a relationship with a local farmer in Chiba.

 Securing locations to sell our vegetarian food has proven to be the most challenging aspect of the LIVES Food truck. Fortunately, we have been able to partner up with two universities in Tokyo who have helped us to secure a permanent timeslot to sell food every week on their Showa campus in Setagaya-ku. British School in Tokyo, Showa University, and within a year, Temple University will all be on the same campus. We are looking forward to offering students from all three schools healthy vegetarian dishes once a week.

 Meeting this goal is the biggest testament to the LIVES food truck`s legitimacy, and the belief that our disabled employees are fully able to serve food and interact with new customers. We are both humbled and grateful for the university`s faith in us, and we to hope to expose our inclusive model to as many young people as possible.

 Additionally, we have partnered with other local NPOs who specialize in empowering differently abled people. In January, we participated in a winter festival for special needs children and their families, where we served 200 cups of healthy vegetarian soup. We will be selling our vegetarian dishes again at another event in the early spring hosted by Acceptions NPO.

 Acceptions shares our goal of empowering down syndrome individuals and creates powerful inciatives to raise awareness, such as the Buddy Walk on March 31st in the Shibuya Area. This parade is an unique opportunity for special needs individuals to march with an escort through Tokyo. Additionally there will be vendors and other special events happening throughout the day in Yoyogi Koen where the trail begins. If you are living in Tokyo, we encourage you to participate; there are plenty of volunteer spots on the Hands On Tokyo website and the LIVES Food Truck will also be selling our vegetarian dishes at the event. Did we mention a portion of our ingredients are locally sourced from a farm in Chiba! You will not only be supporting our mission, but support sustainable food sourcing as well.

 We want to say a big thank you again to our donors. Without your support, we would not have been able to begin this journey in the first place. We have grown and showed Japan what an inclusive and collaborative society with special needs people could look like. We are so grateful that you also believed in our vision and decided to make an investment in us. We will be sending regular updates and hope you will consider either meeting us around Tokyo or donating again. Thank you!

 
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