[IWATE, MIYAGI, JAPAN, 25 June 2012]
|"We must not let the memory of the disaster fade. Through my humble contributions I hope to continue to visit here and do what I can."|
Foodball star Makoto Hasebe has donated all royalties earned from his book "Kokoro o totonoeru: Shori o taguriyoseru tame no 56 no shukan" (Train Your Spirit: 56 Practices to Becoming a Winner) and various charity events to the Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU). These donations go to support for children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Mr. Hasebe made a plea for help and the many readers of his book had responded. He wanted to make sure that their good deeds were not forgotten. Last year it was decided that Mr. Hasebe's donations would be used to construct a new building for Asahi Kindergarten in Minamisanriku, as its original building was lost in the tsunami. On 22 – 23 June 2012 Mr. Hasebe paid a two-day visit to the affected areas following on his last visit at the end of 2011.
Mr. Hasebe first visited Otsuchi Town in Iwate Prefecture where he taught a soccer class to local residents participating in a support programme for fathers. The programme is implemented in Otsuchi Town, among others, by JCU and targets local children and their fathers. Moreover, coaches from the Urawa Red Diamonds Heart-full Club volunteered to assist the event. On the big day approximately 50 children and 30 parents joined the event. The venue was quickly overtaken with the sound of laughter as the children kicked the soccer balls and played. Later, the children were divided into teams for a scrimmage. Players on the field concentrated hard on their game while the children on the sidelines cheered things like, "Japan!" and "Hasebe!" Mr. Hasebe then fielded questions about his experience playing soccer around the world as the children listened with excited smiles. After the lesson was over the children presented Mr. Hasebe with a dance that they had prepared.
On the second day of his visit, 24 June, Mr. Hasebe visited the children of Asahi Kindergarten in Minamisanriku. The children had been waiting anxiously since his last visit for the donation ceremony at the end of 2011. Mr. Hasebse was greeted with a big "Welcome back!" as he arrived at the public hall where Asahi Kindergarten today holds temporary nursery classes. Mr. Hasebe played the wolf in a puppet production of Little Red Riding Hood, played with the children in the schoolyard and even ate lunch together with the children. Later, the third donation ceremony has held at the construction site for Asahi Kindergarten's new school building. On this occasion ¥ 18 million yen was donated, making for a total of ¥ 113 million yen in donations to date. This money is being used for the construction of Asahi Kindergarten's new school building. At the ceremony, Mr. Hasebe even assisted work being done to install the vertical boards used for a rail in the hallway. Construction work is steadily underway with the aim of completing the new building in late July.
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF/satomi matsui