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 managed more than 20 projects costing between ¥10,000 and about ¥2 million (about £70 and £14,000); each making a big difference to people I’d come to know on Oshika.
- Cherry blossom trees (¥10,000 / £70)
- Ohara’s mikoshi cover (¥20,000 / £150)
- Festival tents/barbecue sets (¥45,000 / £250)
- The Tsudachi gardens (¥47,000 / £390)
- Ohara festival clothing (¥50,000 / £410)
- Masayo’s and Keiko’s gardens (¥62,000 / £500)
- Equipment for the Ohara fishermen (¥75,000 / £630)
- A kitchen for Kameyama-san (¥100,000 / £820)
- Equipment for the Yagawa fishermen (¥113,000 / £820)
- Communal space for the fishing industry workers (¥120,000 / £750)
- Educational software for junior high school students for 2014 and 2015 (¥277,000 / £1,600)
- Construction materials for the Sasakis (¥150,000 / £1,250)
- The Ohara bus stop (¥210,000 / £1,400)
- The Ohara playground (¥254,000 / £1,800)
- Ayukawa playground (¥430,000 / £2,700)
- Futons for Ohara (¥524,500 / £3,400)
- Tokyo Disneyland trip (¥583,000 / £4,075)
- Working clothes for the people in the fishing industry (including the Oshika Pink Ladies!) (¥1.2 million / £8,200 — each outfit costs ¥20,000 / £120)
- Repairs to the Koamikura shrine (¥2 million / £11,700)
- Construction of a new kanetsukido (bell “house” at a shrine) ¥2 million / £13,750)
- Oshika Junior High School uniforms (¥2.1 million / £15,000)
- Oshika Community Library (¥2.3 million / £13,300)
I have also run a few projects that haven’t required any funding at all, but have needed support in other ways:
- the free shop
- Valentine’s Day chocolate deliveries
- knitting clubs
- Sunday roast and English brunch “parties”
Thank you again to everyone who was part of these projects, and thank you to the people who sent petrol money that helped distribute Valentine’s chocolates as well as clothing. My next stay on Oshika is during the spring of 2015, and there is sure to be plenty of projects that will come up so do let me know if you’d like to support them.
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, doesn’t always cost a lot 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 keeps people informed. Every time I complete a project, I paint a Union Jack heart with the donors’ names — you can rest assured that your kindness will never be forgotten.