TOMODACHI Alumni Regional Framework theme event in Okinawa Region
On December 1, 2017, the Regional Leaders from Okinawa Region held a theme event titled, “TOMODACHI Okinawa Beach Day” as a part of TOMODACHI Regional Framework. Based on the survey that leaders had conducted at the first regional event in May, this event focused on the social contribution works in Okinawa region.
There were 36 participants including 12 TOMODACHI alumni. The event invited 4 guest speakers who involved in social works in Okinawa to share their experience. After the lecture, participants built connections through BBQ.
The first speaker, Mr. Kota Sugawara from Momoyama Kids’ “Shokudo” (cafeteria) which is a first NPO to help children to build life skills in Okinawa, said “Our cafeteria is a place where children can be themselves and we never miss listening to each story of children. We’d like you to come to our facility and see what’s really going on.” The second speaker, Mr. Tomokazu Gushikami from Naha Clean Beach Club which has been actively cleaning local beaches for 19 years mentioned “We, Uchinanchu (Okinawan People) need to protect our beaches. There are three important things when it comes to think about social works; awareness, action and continuation. We, adults also need to keep in our minds that children develop their common sense by watching our actions, we have to be good role models.” The third speaker, Mr. Devin Williams from Okinawa Outreach Kadena Top 3 which is a group from U.S. military base and they help the locals, spoke “why we volunteer doesn’t matter. The impact you have on someone’s life and the feeling that you can get from giving back to the community is all that matters.” And the last speaker Ms. Kaoru Natori from OIST, an alumni of TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program 2014-15, is a huge advocate to protect/rescue animals, and also to deliver foods to people in need. She shared the volunteer information by saying “The number of euthanized cats and dogs are really high and one in three children live in a poverty in Okinawa. You can save Okinawan cats and dogs, and help people in need TODAY.”
After the lecture, participants communicated ant build networking each other and some of them were willing to join volunteer activities. Next day of the event, Nanase Sakugawa, an alumnus from TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program 2015-16, volunteered at Cherubim Animal Garden Shelter, which Ms. Natori introduced during her presentation. Nanase left a comment “I found an interest in helping animals by hearing what Ms. Natori said: I asked my friend to join me. It was shocking to witness the reality, even though there were many animals at the shelter, there were not enough people to take care of them. They are always seeking for volunteers, so I want everyone to visit there once. I also think we need to think how we can continuously engage in the volunteer works.”
The TOMODACHI Alumni Leadership Program including this theme event is made possible by the generous support of The Prudential Foundation.