By Gentaro Tajima and Ron Choi
Kamome Gakuen is a school for the disabled children in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, in Japan. The school served as a shelter during the 3.11 triple disasters back in 2011. NADIA has a long history with the school, having had many volunteer events for the school in the past. On December 13th and 14th, 2014, NADIA volunteers, in partnership with the members of Playground of Hope (PoH) and It’s Not Just Mud (INJM), built a beautiful playground for the children of this school. It was the 7th playground build for NADIA.
It was by far the most emotional of all the builds. Watching the children and the parents left many of the volunteers heart-broken. Many of the children had mental disabilities, and some of them are very severe cases. It was plain to all they had tough lives ahead of them. We were so touched by the dedication of the school staff that always kept it positive and never forgetting to smile. These children require extraordinary patience to look after them. We were glad to see the staff was more than up for the task. Some of our volunteers shed tears upon watching the children with the most severe mental disabilities, rendering them unable to move. Watching the dignity and positive attitude of the parents of the children left them inspired.
O.G.A. for AID, another Tohoku volunteer group, sent a Santa and presents for the children. All the children were very excited to see Santa, but patiently waited for their turn to receive their gifts. It was one of the highlights of the weekend. Both the children and the parents really enjoyed activities and food that were provided for the opening ceremony.
JPMorgan Chase Foundation, through its Tohoku Fund, provided funding for the build. J.P. Morgan’s impact in the region has been felt by many in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures through its numerous volunteer trips and philanthropic activities. NADIA continues to organize events in partnership with socially conscious corporate donors like J.P. Morgan. These events are by far the best evidence of how corporations and non-profits can work together to make social impact.
This was yet another well-executed event. We show our deepest appreciation to Playground Of Hope and It’s Not Just Mud staff for their hard work and a great execution. And to all the volunteers from NADIA who willingly gave their time and efforts on this project, we sincerely thank you.
Figure 7. Some people actually cried watching this. One cannot think of a gentler, kinder father than this gentleman. The three year old has the most severe mental retardation in the school. The father was about as pleasant as one can ever be. He had smiles throughout the entire day he was there. He is a better man than I am. Everyone was touched.