Mid-July, JOEE launched our first public fundraiser with the help of another NPO that does great work with orphanages around the world, including many here in Japan: YouMeWe NPO, headed up by Michael Clemons. We had been volunteering at the same children’s home in Ota-ku for several months before Michael and I finally managed to meet. He ran a class with the older children on Mondays for computer skills, and I met with the younger children on Thursdays and Fridays for JOEE language lessons. He had been wondering where the younger kids had been learning those new words in English. Our work had been mutually supportive.
We discovered that we had many goals in common and that our two nonprofits could help each other as we developed programs for the youth in institutionalized care. YouMeWe helped to connect JOEE with the GlobalGiving program just in time to be launched with their matching donations program.
On Wednesday, July 15 at 10 pm Japan Time (9 am Eastern Time in the US), the Global Giving Bonus Day began. Donations of $100 up to $1,000 were matched with percentage funds that went from 15% up to 50% for the highest level of gifts (from $750 to $1,000). The fund drive began with the blessing of one $36 donation and then it took off! Donations of all amounts are adding up. It looks like we might reach our goal of raising $5,000 in donations by the end of the month.
Prior to the start of the summer of 2019, Ruth, Hiroko and I were able to schedule a lesson at St. Joseph’s Orphanage which would be open to preschool, kindergarten and lower grade elementary school children. Armed with puppets, picture books, snacks, and prayer we waited expectantly for the kids to arrive. The staff there would like the program to be open to whomever would like to attend, so we weren’t sure how many children or what ages would participate.
At first, two elementary-age girls arrived. It was lovely to meet them, but they left giggling at our silly dancing and opening song. The clock was ticking our lesson minutes away, but finally, slightly damp and smelling of soap bubbles, a nice group of kindergarten-age children and their caretakers arrived! Little feet carried them into the room and we began the “ball” lesson.
Ruth was the main teacher and led the lesson with her gentle grace and sweet voice. Lots of giggles, happy faces, and great participation followed. Hiroko and I sat with warm children in our laps, little hands holding our own. One boy in particular kept coming to my lap and seemed to really enjoy being with me. I prayed for him and all of his friends quietly in my heart as we all practiced “ball” and Ruth passed out animal shaped cookies. “Please!” “Thank you!” Little voices filled the air with English. We acted out a story using puppets and sound effects, and I was able to reprise my role as “the snake” for “Can I Play Too?”
At the end of the lesson, we thanked the orphanage director for her hospitality. We are praying that she will be happy with our program and invite us back.