Joyful Opportunity English Education is a non-profit foundation that brings lively lessons to children growing up in protective care homes (or orphanages) in Japan. Learning English from native speakers using puppets, songs and games gives these children a rare advantage in a world that presents serious challenges to these youngsters who do not have the benefit of a supportive family. A knowledge of basic English will allow them to find fulfilling work when they exit the care homes at age 18.
Almost 45,000 children live in institutionalized care homes across Japan. Because adoption rates are extremely low and because Japanese laws prevent these children being adopted by foreign families, most of these children will spend their entire young lives in care homes. At age 18, they must exit and try to make it on their own. Without a supportive family, they struggle to enter college or to find work. Homelessness and unemployment are common; orphans are often discriminated against in Japan.
JOEE brings creative English lessons to children in Japanese institutionalized care. We teach language using puppets, songs, and stories. We use fun pronunciation games. Besides using high quality, native English-speaking teachers to teach the children, JOEE strives to build self-esteem and hope. By learning English and proper pronunciation at a young age, these children can do better in school and access a variety of jobs in Japan or abroad when they leave the care home at the age of eighteen.
As the birth rate in Japan drops and the population ages, Japan is more than ever in need of competent and well-balanced citizens who can contribute meaningfully to society. Thousands of orphans are growing up in institutionalized care in Japan and they are a desperately needed resource. These are not "throw-away" children as they are sometimes labeled by Japanese society. They can be future bilingual leaders, empathetic to others in need and able to think globally, beyond the borders of Japan.
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