An ex-teacher meets the emotional needs of Japanese children by sending cards of encouragement to them.
Contributed By Carol Loi
Former teacher Gina Ho, 29, stumbled upon a novel idea to lift the spirits of the young children in Japan when she heard about an organization that was collecting encouragement cards for children in Japan affected by the recent disaster. She felt that there were already many other organization working to raise funds for Japan, and wanted to contribute in non-financial ways.
The organization’s work was related to her by Sato Taneda, husband to her missing Japanese friend and fellow teacher, Tomoko Suggio, of whom there has been no news yet. In her heart, she knew that Suggio would have wanted to do something for the children.
Through Taneda, she was connected via Facebook with Matt Boucher who had started a page “Letters to Japan”. Boucher stays in Japan with his Japanese wife and their 4-year-old daughter. The earthquake and tsunami took place on the 4-year-old’s birthday, and her birthday wish was for every Japanese child affected by the tragedy to receive an encouragement card. Boucher thus started the Facebook page with an aim to collect 10,000 cards for the Japanese children. After praying to God for help to reach his target, he was connected to Ho a few days later.
Ho subsequently sent out a first wave of e-mails and Facebook messages seeking encouragement cards. She also arranged for her Japanese friends staying in Singapore to help translate the messages on the cards into Japanese for the children.
She was pleasantly surprised with the many responses from individuals and organizations who wanted to contribute to the efforts. Departmental chain Isetan is sponsoring the cost of sending the cards to Japan, while the Japanese Association is auctioning some of the collected artworks to raise cash. Ho herself held a one-hour donation drive at City Hall MRT station and received many cards from strangers. Teachers and students from various pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools are likewise hopping on the bandwagon.
It may thus come as a surprise that Ho has received hate mail condemning her efforts as un-environmentally friendly and impractical in addressing the needs of the victims. Many people have also asked why she chose such a form of “aid”. According to Ho, while the cards do not meet the physical needs of the Japanese children, she hopes that the gesture will be a source of comfort and a reminder of God’s love for them.