Oshika update – January 2017

It’s been six months since my last trip to Oshika and, as always, work has started on the projects I managed to secure support for while I was there.

  • The equipment for Ajishima Playground, kindly sponsored by Ohana International School, arrived in November, and the islanders spent December preparing the grounds, helped by a group of volunteers from the Tohoku University Kendo Club. The islanders were thrilled with Ohana’s donation, which allowed them to purchase a wide variety of playground equipment that has already brought out the child in everyone. I’ve always found that even just the building of new community spaces on Oshika draws attention, and provides an opportunity for locals to stop and chat, and the creation of the Ajishima Playground has been exactly the same. Local children, parents, and elders will be invited to a community event where they will all participate in painting the wooden equipment to protect it from the harsh weather conditions. I can’t wait to see the finished playground! Thank you so much to the Ohana International School community.
  • Ohana has been immensely supportive of a variety of my Oshika projects over the years, and last summer they also pledged ¥500,000 to the Koamikura community, to help stabilize the steps leading up to the village’s shrine. This money will stay within the community, as it is local people that are being hired to work on the steps. Thank you again, Ohana!
  • On the very last day of my trip, I quite unexpectedly found a sponsor (or sponsors to be more accurate) for a huge project — the Ajishima Farmers’ Market and Community Kitchen. A group of community-minded entrepreneurs, with the support of HOPE International, pledged to raise the entire ¥2 million that was required to support this very special project that will greatly contribute to rebuilding the island’s economy. During the past six months the islanders and their sponsors have been busy working on the details of the project, and work has already started on renovating an old building that will serve as a permanent structure from which the islanders can sell their produce. Spending so much time selling at farmers’ markets in the UK during the past few years, I know firsthand just what this project will mean to the entire community. I’m so excited to see the finished market! Thank you so much to my entrepreneur friend, who initiated the sponsorship of this wonderful project by simply inviting me for a coffee on my last day of that Japan trip last year.

We will soon be coming up to the six year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, and it is often at this time of year when many people connected to Japan feel the need to do something to support the rebuilding efforts. If you are one of these people, then please take a moment to have a look at the items below, and let me know if there is anything that you would like to support. In order of donation amount from lowest (¥20,000 or £140 or $175) to highest (¥1.5 million or £10,400 or $13,000) …

  • Pink Ladies: workwear for the men and women working in the fishing industry is an ongoing need. To date we have provided 137 outfits for members of the fishing community. The outfits include hardwearing overalls and matching jackets, and can be sponsored in your name, or the name of a loved one, your company, or community group. They are hugely appreciated on Oshika, and cost ¥20,000 (that’s about £140 or $175 at today’s exchange rate). Please see here for more details.
  • Four different projects on Ajishima, each costing ¥200,000 (about £1400 or $1750 at today’s exchange rate). Ajishima is still looking for sponsors for a dog run, an outdoor performance space, an orchard, and a clean-up/recycling project. Scroll down this page to see more details about each of these.
  • School uniforms for the incoming students at Oshika Junior High School for 2017. There will be 12 new students entering the only junior high school on Oshika this year. Their uniforms (including bags, shoes, and sportswear for the entire three years of schooling) cost a total of ¥564,000. The Oxford Japanese community have already very kindly donated ¥260,000 from the event where I gave a speech last year, and I’m really hoping that somebody may feel moved to donate the remaining ¥304,000 (that’s about £2,100 or $2,650 at today’s exchange rate). The provision of these school uniforms removes a huge burden from the families on Oshika, as we have proved by providing uniforms for every student that has entered Oshika Junior High since 2013. Please see here for more information.
  • Flail-mower for Ajishima. These mowers are incredibly efficient at chopping and organizing weeds and long grasses in order to maintain public spaces, and the islanders would like one particularly for managing the area in and around the Eco-Park, yuzu orchard, and to be able to allow the island to clear other areas in order to develop future projects. They cost about ¥550,000 (about £3,800 or $4,800 at today’s exchange rate) but it would be wonderful if an actual flail-mower could be donated.
  • Wood-chipper for Ajishima. A wood chipper is an extremely useful tool on Ajishima in general, as well as for the Eco-Park. There is a never-ending supply of tree trimmings and bush-clearing scraps from the island, that can be used to create woodchips for pathways around the eco-park, a surface for the children’s playground, and natural compost, which would be given to islanders to use instead of the harmful chemicals currently imported to the island. Woodchips can also be used to create a mushroom microbusiness, and cover material for a compost toilet. They have so far rented a wood chipper, which has cost ¥100,000 for just one day’s use, and would ideally like to purchase one that they can have access to long-term in order to support existing as well as future plans for developing the island. A wood-chipper costs about ¥1.5 million (that’s about £10,400 or $13,000 at today’s exchange rate) but again, if somebody had a wood-chipper they could donate, that would be much appreciated!

If any of the above are even just a little bit interesting to you, then please do get in touch. Thank you so much for still caring!

The total we have raised together in almost six years is now almost ¥22 million. That’s more than £140,000 or over $210,000. Thank you to everybody that has played a part in helping the fishing communities of Oshika rebuild their lives.

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