Thursday, April 2, 2009

Volunteer weekend at Hakkenmura

Last weekend, I took part in a volunteer event with Hakkenmura, which is an organization that is dedicated to providing assistance and shelter to homeless people in Japan.

I didn't really understood what I was in for when I told my friend Ayumi that I will be joining her for the volunteer event. It was only later that I understood that we will be asking for donations for the homeless at Tenmonkan, which is located downtown. Two hours later, we collected 65,606 yen for the homeless. It was pretty interesting that most of those who donated money were young males. Who would've thought?

The pictures are, again, out of sequence, so I'll comment on each picture in turn:

This picture was take at the press conference signaling the official establishment of the Kagoshima branch of Hakkenmura. Suffice to say, I was not able to understand most of what was being said... :P

After the donation event and before the press conference, we had dinner at a nearby pasta place. I learned how to make a chick with a wet towel (see below)

Here, we're sorting the money we collected in the afternoon

After the press conference, the volunteers were divided into teams. Each team went to a different area in Kagoshima City to find homeless people, give them information about the organization, and give them some food. My team went to Taniyama and consisted of me, Ayumi, Prof. Batoh, a professor of Economics at IUK, and three other males whose names I forgot (@@)... Two of those males used to live on the streets themselves so they knew where the homeless spend the night. I was surprised that we were able to find 4 in Taniyama alone. According to the official statistics they presented at the press conference, there are at least 100 homeless people in Kagoshima City alone.

This next picture was taken at Chuo Park. The volunteers, people from Hakkenmura, and even some of the former and current homeless people helped out in making lunch and snacks for hanami (flower watching).

I remember thinking to myself that day that I wasn't able to differentiate between the homeless and the volunteers at times because everyone helped out in cooking the food and cleaning afterwards. It was also interesting to see that starving as they were, the homeless sat quietly in front of the food offered to them and waited until they were told that it was okay to start eating. I don't think the same thing could happen in many other countries.

The man in the checkered shirt at the leftmost corner in the last picture is called Wada. He cooked for nearly three hours that day and probably did not eat much. I still don't know whether he's homeless or not, but I do know that I am immensely impressed by his cooking skills and his willingness to do things without asking for anything in return.


Thunderthud said...

Building good karma.

Booyah! said...

good way of looking at it :P