During my trips to and time spent in Tohoku, I try to offer a bit of practical and emotional support and to maintain awareness, but I also look for small projects to fund from donations I receive in the UK and also in Japan.
I have so far found eleven projects costing between ¥20,000 and ¥230,000 (about £160 and £1,900); each making a big difference to people I’d come to know on Oshika. I always specified that people who sent clothes or other practical donations included a bit of money toward the petrol expenses involved in distributing everything on the peninsula, and I ended up with more than I needed on my first trip, so I also donated ¥60,000 (about £500) to the Ohara shrine fund. The Ohara community have been so wonderfully welcoming to me, and I know how much their 400-year-old shrine means to them and how hopeful they are as they try to raise the funds they need to repair it, so I thought this was a good thing to support with this extra money.
As for the actual donated funds, if you follow my blog then you already know the Ohara fishermen, the Sasakis, and Kameyama-san; but let me tell you exactly how your money helped each of them, plus others:
- The Ohara fishermen (¥75,000 / £610)
- The Sasakis (¥150,000 / £1,200)
- Kameyama-san (¥100,000 / £820)
- Oshika Pink Ladies (¥230,000 / £1,900)
- Ohara mikoshi clothing (¥50,000 / £410)
- Masayo’s and Keiko’s gardens (¥31,000 / £250 each)
- The Yagawa fishermen (¥113,000 / £930)
- Ohara’s mikoshi cover (¥20,000 / £160)
- The Tsudachi gardens (¥47,000 / £390)
- The Ohara playground (¥225,000 / £1,800)
I am currently working on a project to help Tohoku children go to Disneyland, and supporting Ohana International School and Miyabi Arashi taiko drumming group as they raise money to sponsor the Koamikura matsuri. I am also helping Kspace in their efforts to raise funds for uniforms for new students at Oshika Junior High.
Thank you again to everyone who was part of these projects, and thank you to the people who sent petrol money. I have just over ¥42,000 (£310) to allocate during my next trip, which is in February 2013, when I will be spending six weeks on Oshika. As well as the lovely friends I have made there, I now have a lot of contacts who know the kinds of projects I’m looking to support — something that can make a real difference to someone’s home or work, costs a relatively small amount of money, can be completed quickly, and that I can see firsthand and be able to convey back to the people who paid for it. I think it is so important to let people know what happens to the money they have donated, and I hope that my blog kept people informed. During my summer 2012 trip, I painted Union Jack hearts with the donors’ names on them — you can rest assured that your kindness will never be forgotten.