In Summer 2022 the charity team welcomed Maria-chan from Japan to the UK. We even managed to fit in a dream trip to Disneyland Paris! Maria-chan’s primary reason for visiting England was to take part in a Vidal Sassoon Academy short course in hair styling. She passed the course and got a certificate, which will help her achieve her career goal of working in the beauty and fashion industry in Japan, where she is currently studying at a Tokyo university.
Maria-chan has been a long-time beneficiary of the charity Aid For Japan after she tragically lost both her parents and close relatives to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. We have known her since she was eleven years old and over those years, she has become a wonderful, confident and strong young adult.
Highlights from the trip
Maria-chan saw Frozen the musical. She is a big fan of Disney, and her favourite princess is Elsa, so she was very happy to get to see this hit West End show.
We went to Disneyland Paris! It was during a heatwave and coincided with the 30-year anniversary of the theme park, and so we were able to see a phenomenal light show at the end of the evening. It was a beautiful summery time to see the sights of Paris.
Some of our Japanese speaking volunteers visited the Foundling Museum together with Maria-chan to see an exhibition called Superheroes, Orphans & Origins. It featured illustrations, comics and manga with characters whose origin stories were about being an orphan or “foundling”. Maria-chan told us she enjoyed the visit and had discovered some new manga artists as well.
While Maria-chan was home-staying in London, we met up with the charity trustees in Hyde Park. As it was summertime the evenings were long and bright. Before our meeting Maria-chan had experience a very nice afternoon tea at The Dorchester Hotel. Her favourite thing on the menu was the clotted cream.
Towards the end of her trip Maria-chan travelled to Manchester along with charity volunteers to attend Doki Doki Japanese Festival. She helped run the fundraising stall and dressed people in kimono – a handy skill she’d learned at fashion college in Tokyo.
During this summer’s activities, Maria-chan was as much as a help to Aid For Japan as she was a beneficiary. We’re very grateful for her reciprocity; in giving back her time and skills to benefit the charity. The summer trip was a wonderful experience for all involved, and we also could not have done it without the generous support and donations received from everyone over the years.
We would like to thank The Rotary Club of Chiswick and Brentford, the Duggan family, Andrew Gaskell, Risa Rokuhara, Genevieve Edwards, Aidan Clifford, Yuka Harada-Parr, Richard Pennington, Paul Browne, Sumika Hayakawa