Help for Japan: $173,086 Raised for Japanese Orphans
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Help for Japan: $173,086 Raised for Japanese Orphans

Securing a brighter future for children orphaned by the earthquake and tsunami: UPDATE as of April 27, 2011 

"A person, who no matter how desperate the situation, gives others hope, is a true leader."
— Daisaku Ikeda, Japanese peace activist

Thanks to the incredible generosity of 1,357 travelers, associates, Trip Leaders, and Program Directors from around the world, Grand Circle Foundation raised a total of $173,086 as part of our Help for Japan fund, which is providing support to a segment of Japan's population hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11: the nation's suddenly orphaned youth.

On April 21, seven associates in our Tokyo office presented this donation, which includes a $25,000 Foundation match, to ASHINAGA, a Japanese non-profit organization founded in 1969 to support children who have lost either one or both of their parents. ASHINAGA is working vigorously in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami to identify children in need of psychological and emotional support; have provided relief stipends to more than 500 children of all ages, payments totaling more than $1.6 million U.S.; and planning the construction of a mental care center to provide a resource for bereaved children.

It's an organization that our associates in Japan enthusiastically recommended to Alan and Harriet Lewis. The timing of the March earthquake and tsunami directly impacted many Japanese youth, says Chikako Iwata, Operations & Program Services Manager in Japan. Many children were saved because they were at school when the earthquake hit, but their parents either perished or are still missing.

"Many children were deeply hurt by having lost their parents or having seen the many dead bodies" in the wake of the natural disasters, says Chikako Iwata, Operations & Program Services Manager in Japan. The planned mental care center will be a place where "children can heal their broken hearts through playing or having something to do with others."

Given the wide geographic area devastated, ASHINAGA will use the new center as a hub for a wide-range support plan. Support specialists will be trained on-site and then dispatched to support children in affected communities.

"It will take a long time for bereaved children to recover from their broken hearts," Chikako says. "So ASINAGA will continue to offer this support as the children are growing up."

These youth will join the more than 60,000 orphans ASHINAGA has helped via scholarship support they needed to graduate; youngsters have also benefited from summer camps and emotional care programs at Kobe Rainbow House, the first day care center for orphans in Japan.

Alan Lewis said being able to give back in this manner—and with such an outpouring of support from travelers and associates—is an honor. "Having spent time in Hiroshima, we feel deeply touched by the suffering of Japan—and by the resiliency of the people, who have already known such sadness," he says. "We are blessed to be in a position to give back to this country, particularly to children whose physical and emotional worlds are in shambles."

Thank you to the 1,357 who helped the Foundation give the gift of support and hope to Japan.

While we are no longer accepting donations for ASHINAGA, we encourage all would-be donors to give to the organization directly.