Last summer saw Aid For Japan take a team of volunteers to Japan to meet some of the orphans and to learn more about their stories.
Emile Loveday was one of the volunteers and he wrote of his experiences on his blog over the course of several days. Here, Emile sums up his thoughts on the week of activities and work for Aid For Japan.
“To summarise my experience in a few sentences, I will start by explaining what we did and the purpose of the trip”.
“Tom and I arrived in Japan on the 30th July and left on the 31st August. The aim of the trip was to support and aid the orphaned children who suffered from the tsunami of 2011 as well as raise money for the charity Aid for Japan”.
“Our trip was thus divided in two parts: the first where we actively spent time with some of the orphans in various regions of Japan and the second where we attended Rotary Clubs in order to raise awareness and funds for the charity. The second half of the trip was spent in somewhat total independence as we were left to our own devices and were housed by members of different Rotary Clubs. All of this was arranged by the founding member of the charity, Akemi Solloway, and I wish to thank her as well as everyone who helped us during our trip”.
“During the first part of the trip, we travelled all over Japan to visit some of the children affected by the disaster with Akemi and two other pupils (North and Angela). The first stop was a residential course organised by the charity in Nara. We stayed in Yakushi Temple with Ryouta and joined in their daily lives. We then stopped in Matsue to meet a girl called Waka and spent a bit of time with her. After, we went to Sendai where we met Maria and Manami. In between those trips, we stopped off at different famous locations like Kurashiki, Hiroshima and Tokyo to sightsee and learn more ourselves about the culture and history of Japan. We then went in the mountains of Fukushima and stayed with a Japanese volunteer who helped us in Nara. Both Tom and I prepared a small concert to raise funds for the charity”.
“After that, we split up and we then travelled on our own while the others returned to England. Firstly, we went to Tokyo. We went to Tokyo mainly to sightsee and got to relax for a few days. We then went to Aomori to attend a fundraiser for our charity and then Himeji where we attended four fundraisers”.
“This was my first ever trip to Japan and also my first charity volunteer work. I have found the whole experience so overwhelmingly positive and have found every second rewarding and enjoyable. I never thought I would be able to visit Japan for so long with actual native people at such a young age. Everyone was so friendly and generous. I am very glad my first to Japan wasn’t only a tourist trip but mostly for a great cause. Japan was a lot like I expected it too. I had heard everywhere that Japan was extremely safe and everyone was polite and that they revered their traditions and history and I noticed that everywhere I went. One example of this is how many World Heritage sites there are in Tokyo alone like the Meiji shrine next to Takeshita Street. I really enjoyed the stay in Yakushi Temple and Tokyo, meeting the orphans and spending time with them. Travelling all over Japan, meeting new people and making new friends. I think that if a similar trip is organised next year however, we should spend more time with the orphans as I felt there wasn’t enough time to get to know them and help them”.
“A message to next year’s people would be to not be shy and come with a lot of determination and motivation. It is definitely great fun and I think it was a great opportunity to spend my holiday supporting a cause, also giving a sense of purpose. The more people involved the better!”
Aid For Japan would like to extend its thanks to Emile and all of the volunteers. Grateful thanks also to the monks at Yakushi temple in Nara who donated accommodation and food during our stay. Read more about their work here: http://www.nara-yakushiji.com.