After the earthquake and tsunami in March, FTLOCS reached out to longtime friend and supporter Machiko Hashimoto to see if we could help the Japanese children in any way. Through her connections, we were able to get in touch with the Yamada South Elementary School in the town of Yamada, Iwate Prefecture. Most of Yamada was destroyed by the tsunami, and the school, situated upon a hill, is one of the few remaining buildings in the town.
The principal, Ms. Saga, requested that we provide funds for an annual overnight study trip taken by fifty grade six students. Although many of the basic necessities have been provided by the government and various NGOs, the trip was something that would have to be abandoned if funds were not found. FTLOCS, with the support of generous donors, was able to raise over $12,000.00 to cover the cost of the trip. President Ashid Bahl travelled to Japan in October to meet and send the children off on their long-anticipated trip.
Although the children had endured unthinkable tragedy and hardship in the seven months since the disaster, they were eager to demonstrate to Ashid and their community that they were healthy and well. On the trip, the students visited the UNESCO heritage town of Hiraizumi to visit and learn about the history of the area; danced the “Tora-nomai” (Tiger Dance) at a local shopping centre in front of Ashid, Machiko and the community; and enjoyed a carefree afternoon at a local amusement park.
The majority of our work is in underdeveloped areas of the world helping children with the most basic of needs. On this occasion, we were delighted that we could help children with the gift of an experience that would hopefully help to rehabilitate them emotionally and stay with them for a lifetime.