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Aid For Japan 2017 : The Year In Review

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2017 proved to be a busy year for Aid For Japan, a year which marked the 6th Anniversary of the tragic earthquake/tsunami that had led to the charity’s formation back in 2011.

One of the sources of Aid For Japan’s funding is from volunteers devoting their time to raise money for the charity through a variety of activities. Among the various fundraisers was a production of Sleeping Beauty staged by the Singapore-based Cheng Ballet Academy. When Emile Goldberg’s daughter, a student at the ballet school, became part of the event, he saw an opportunity for fundraising for Aid For Japan. As a result, the initiative managed to raise £2,466 for the charity.

In May, London’s 101 Thai Kitchen arranged a special cooking course with proceeds going to support Aid For Japan. The classes had been organised for people keen to learn the art of preparing Thai dishes in the style of Isaan cuisine. Isaan cuisine is much loved all over Thailand but Isaan cooking is quite different from that of any part of Thailand. The food tends to be more spicy using lots of fresh and dried chilies. The 101 Thai Kitchen raised £90 through this effort.

The Geek Girl Brunch – a meetup group of ladies who geek out together – staged a Japanese-themed event to celebrate anime, manga and Studio Ghibli. They raised £21 as part of their generous work.

TransIndus is a travel agency that takes care to ensure their holidays have a positive impact on the countries that they visit. The TransIndus brochure for Tailor-Made Far East holidays dedicated a special section talking about Aid For Japan and its work, which helped raise awareness for the charity.

But, as ever, the 11th March is probably the most important date of any year on Aid For Japan’s calendar. This year marked the 6th Anniversary of the 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami. The charity staged a special event to commemorate the day, which included a Japanese sword demonstration (care of Battodo Fudokan), readings and talks, facepainting and Japanese snacks and refreshments.

On a visit to the Fukushima region of Japan in April, Aid For Japan founder Akemi Solloway caught up with some of the orphans and took time to enjoy a cherry blossom viewing (hanami) with them.

In July Aid For Japan, in partnership with the Japan International Cultural Exchange Foundation (JICEF), staged a Japanese Culture event in London to raise awareness of the charity and also to raise funds.

Charity founder Akemi Solloway gave an introduction to the Kimono, using a volunteer from the audience to demonstrate how they are worn. Akemi also gave a demonstration of the Japanese tea ceremony before completing with a presentation about Aid for Japan. The event also had some generous assistance from Japan Centre and Wagashi shop. £300 was raised for the charity at the event.

Part of Aid For Japan’s mission is to reach out to some of the orphans from the tragic events of 2011. While the charity aims to connect with these children through the annual summer residential courses, it’s also beneficial for the orphans to visit the UK when the charity can arrange it. For children that have lost their parents, this is an important step that not only broadens their view of the world but also reminds them that the world remembers them.

This year saw Maria making the journey from Japan. Maria is one of the children that Aid For Japan has supported since the early days of the charity (as seen in this special TV coverage).

At the end of July, Maria arrived in the UK to spend a break assisted by Aid For Japan and its team of volunteers. The first port of call was the Asian Wellness, Yoga & Vegan Festival in Richmond. The event featured yoga sessions, Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes while Aid For Japan staged origami and calligraphy demonstrations for enthusiastic attendees.

One of Maria’s dreams was to travel on the Eurostar, so regular charity volunteer Angela and interpreter Shiori took Maria to London’s St Pancreas station for a trip to Brussels where she enjoyed a walk around the main square – and tucked into a treat of a cone of strawberries dipped in chocolate.

In August, The Guardian also presented a heart-rending report on how the 2011 tragedy still had an effect on the residents of Okawa, a small community that had suffered from the event.

The summer also saw one of Akemi’s students, Sam, decide to see what he could do to help the charity. Ojiya Study Abroad is a non-profit organisation aimed at helping international people learn the Japanese language and learn about Japanese culture on a small budget.

Sam, concerned by the plight of the orphans from the 2011 tragedy, linked up to Ojiya Study Abroad and spent time in Ojiya helping students with their English. As a result, he raised 11,000 yen for Aid For Japan.

In November, the annual Doki Doki event in Manchester once again adopted Aid For Japan as its charity of choice. Genki Gear, a clothing specialist who are also a regular trader at the event, put together a special Doki Doki T-Shirt with all proceeds going to Aid For Japan. The successful event raised nearly £1,000!

Akemi also staged a special Japanese Tea Ceremony event in London the same month. Once again, all proceeds went to the charity and the event raised £180.

With Christmas approaching, there was one final task for the charity to complete. Every year, Aid For Japan arranges for Christmas presents to be sent out to Japan for the orphans of the Tsunami. These gifts would not be possible without the kind support of the people who donate to the charity.

Much of Aid For Japan’s activities this year would not have been possible without the tireless work and dedication of the charity’s small team of volunteers and helpers. This includes Angela Shaffer, Sumika Hayakawa, Isabelle Demaude, Paul Algar, Richard Pennington, David, Shiori, Misato as well as all the other people that have assisted throughout 2017.

Aid For Japan would also like to extend its grateful thanks to JICEF, Doki Doki, Genki Gear, John Evans and the students of the Battodo Fudokan dojo, Asian Wellness, Yoga & Vegan Festival, the Japan Centre, Sam Stocker, Ojiya Study Abroad, Emile Goldberg and the Cheng Ballet Academy, TransIndus, 101 Thai Kitchen and Geek Girl Brunch. Thanks also to all those that donated or helped Aid For Japan in other ways throughout 2017.