Dear friends of hearts for haragama,
It has been over seven months since the earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan irrevocably altered the the course of our lives. We have all changed in vast and different ways since then; the event brought out emotions in us all that we never knew existed and we all felt the need to help in whatever ways we could, large or small. The world saw an outpouring of generosity and compassion for Japan that was as overwhelming as it was moving. Likewise for hearts for haragama, much has changed since our last update. Some of us have left Japan, others have been occupied with new jobs and new families, and regrettably, at times we weren’t able to be as organised as we would have liked to have been.
However, one constant is that we never lost the desire to see hearts for haragama through to its proper end. Most significantly, it is with great pride and sincere gratitude that we can announce that thanks to the incredible generosity shown to us, we were able to meet and exceed the donation target we set ourselves for keeping Haragama Kindergarten operational. This will be the first entry in a series of posts that will see us bring the hearts for haragama project to a close, report on all the fantastic help we received along the way, and shed some light on our activities over the past few months.
March 11th, 2011 will remain with us for the rest of our lives. It has become the reference point for all that we have experienced in Japan, and I believe in many ways it has come to encapsulate all of our feelings about what this wonderful country has to offer. The way the Japanese people responded to such a huge catastrophe – with all their quiet dignity, patience and resolve – has been inspiring to say the least.
It was due to the huge amount of love and support that we received from all over the world that we felt that what we were undertaking was indeed helpful and worthwhile. While we of course support and admire the work being done by larger established charities, we wanted to be able to attribute names, faces and personalities to our efforts; that is why, when we heard Tsukasa’s touching story, we immediately felt drawn into his life, the lives of his family and the students of Haragama Kindergarten, and that we had at last found our calling in Fukushima.
We began our organisation for very humble and human reasons, and throughout the entire process everything we accomplished was constantly buoyed by our friendships – with Tsukasa, with Haragama, with our communities, with ourselves – and our respect for the communities of Fukushima and Japan. We never looked beyond our goals or lived beyond our means and everything we undertook was with the best interests of Haragama in mind. We never employed outside help. We learned as we went along. There were stressful times, even panicked times, but there was never a time when we felt we could give up on what we had started. Each of us were present in Fukushima at the time the earthquake and tsunami struck, and while it affected each of us in different ways, it succeeded in bringing us together on a deeply personal level, and one that we each feel running strongly between us to this day. We felt a strong human element with all of our volunteer efforts and we were proud to be able to see the benefits of our activities first-hand, and indeed this website was established so that the community may follow us as we ventured out to the coast, to evacuation centres, and around Fukushima, and so that they might see the benefits of their support directly.
Fukushima and Japan have come a long way since March 11. Their courage has inspired us all and we will forever be grateful for the opportunity to help out in our small way. Likewise, if ever our belief that we were doing a worthwhile thing wavered over the last six months, it was reaffirmed each and every time we received a message of support, a donation, even a humble Facebook or Twitter message. At times, the sheer volume of interest we had garnered seemed in danger of overwhelming our small group given our lack of charity experience, but we have finally caught up and ask for your forgiveness and thank you for your patience in allowing us to process everything in its due course. We are no longer accepting donations to hearts for haragama, but as always, we appreciate each and every individual who has taken the time to read our website and spare a thought for the people of Fukushima and Japan.
We hope that you will stay tuned over the next few days while we bring you up to date with some recent photos from Fukushima, our dealings with PayPal, the outcomes of our volunteer efforts and some very special messages of thanks from the students of Haragama Kindergarten.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your patience, generosity and love.
Darren, Billy, Danny, Sayaka, Kevin, Vinnie and Haruka