2015/06/24 An office worker, Sayaka Sakamoto
I have been interested in Vietnam and was thinking about what I could do for the relationship between Japan and Vietnam, when I was introduced this activity.
Cleaning wheelchairs is close and tough work. However, just imagine a child will sit on the chair you’re cleaning and be smiling and you will feel how rewarding your work is and you can even enjoy the work.
There are various types of participants in monthly meetings and also they make a friendly atmosphere. At first I was a bit nervous as I had never experienced volunteering or even touched a wheelchair, but I soon felt easy thanks to this atmosphere.
To my surprise, there were many Vietnamese participants. It’s so nice of them to join such activities living in Japan, a foreign country to them. For me, who has interest in Vietnam, this was and still is a great opportunity to get contact with Vietnamese people.
I feel that this activity is made up of the hearts of people offering their wheelchairs in Japan, people receiving them abroad, and people working between them. I’m happy to be of some help in such activity.
2014/11/23 Students of Fussa High School
Fussa High School is located near our activity base in Hamura and some students have been joining us continually so far. Here are some comments of the students who took part in our monthly meeting as a volunteering lesson during the summer vacation.
I didn’t know what to do with wheelchairs and got nervous at first, but while listening to the explanation by the regular members I came to understand that I could do something for other people by cleaning wheelchairs. I was devoted to the work and gradually I felt it so rewarding. Though I felt it troublesome before starting to work, I was encouraged to join this activity again after having finished cleaning and realized that I could be of a little help.
When I saw dirty used wheelchairs, to be frank, I thought it would be trouble for me to clean them, but as I worked with some members of this NPO and listened them talk about these wheelchairs I felt quite the other way round. It brightened me up to imagine a disabled child pleased to use the wheelchair I worked on. I also found it important to think about the world outside Japan.
It’s not easy to work, I thought. Cleaning or checking the condition of wheelchairs or pumping up tires, all these are heavy work and made me tired out, but also made me experience a sense of achievement. Having foreign dishes for lunch is a precious memory, too.
Through volunteering this time, I’ve learned that there were surely some disabled children who used each wheelchair or equipment. Some wheelchairs still had name seals on them. I also knew how these wheelchairs would be used again by someone else.
It was a good experience for me.
I had not understood volunteers’ feelings until I joined this activity. What’s the use of it?
Now I know I was wrong after my own experience. Volunteering means just working for others, regardless of loss or gain.
Many of the wheels had flat tires or were broken and some looked like they wouldn’t be of any use again, but once we changed tires or rubber valves, wiped off dirt with duster and pumped up tires, the used wheelchairs turned as good as new ones.
What impressed me most is cleaning wheelchairs. This was my first time to learn the mechanism of wheelchairs such as how to exchange rubber valves. I wouldn’t know such things without this volunteering lesson. I think I had a good experience.
This was my first time to join volunteering so I was nervous, but Mr. Morita was so cheerful and made me feel relaxed. Through this activity I found that however hard we worked and finished packing a certain number of wheelchairs there are atill lots of children who need wheelchairs and more hands are needed for this project.
I realized that it is pleasant to do something for other people through this activity. I was thrilled to think that the wheelchair I was cleaning would be used by someone abroad. I tried hard to make wheelchairs in better condition.
The volunteering activity this time made me realize that it gives me pleasure to work for others. I hope that the wheelchairs I cleaned today will be used by disabled children abroad and make them happy.
This was my first time to touch wheelchairs or equipment for legs. I learned the mechanism of them and also realized what a hard life the ex-users had had.
It was just a day’s work, but I learned a lot of things and now I know there are so many people who use wheelchairs. The activity was to clean the wheelchairs which are not used any more or are going to be thrown away and help deliver those wheelchairs to children abroad. I was moved to know that the used wheelchairs can be used again.
The photo shows students of Fussa High School after the repair work.
Thank you for your work!
To the students of Fussa High School,
Thank you again for joining our activity. Your fresh voices encourage us a lot. The wheelchairs you’ve worked on today will surely brighten up the lives of disabled children in Paraguay, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. We hope you will make the most of today’s experience in your school life. We also hope you will join us again in the future.
2014/03/02 Comments from Sagami Women’s College senior students:
Ms. Tomoko Miura
Comments from Sagami Women’s College senior students:(They graduated from college this March.)
I joined this activity for the first time in April, 2012. Since then I’ve never failed to attend monthly meetings. At first I knew nothing about wheelchairs or the situation of children’s wheelchairs both in Japan and abroad, but each time I took part in a monthly meeting or visiting schools for disabled children I learned something new to me.
Through this activity over the past two years, I felt that this project has an important role of delivering the thoughts of children who offered their wheelchairs to foreign countries by means of the wheelchairs cleaned and fixed by us. When I visited Thailand to deliver wheelchairs, I was moved to see the children smiling on the wheelchairs and their families also smiling with them. I really felt it was a good opportunity for me to join this activity.
I hope more and more children both in Japan and abroad will smile happily through wheelchairs.
I’ve had opportunities to meet various kinds of people through this activity over the past
two years. I’ve also had some experiences which I would never have had in college. I really appreciate the NPO and our teacher giving me such opportunities. In the activity, many people work together to make a wheelchair complete and even a single wheelchair can change a life of a child. I am happy to have been one of them. Thank you.
Ms. Maika Suzuno
I’ve had precious experiences such as collecting and repairing wheelchairs for the past two years. At monthly meetings I had a good time working with this NPO members or students from other colleges. At first I felt uneasy about the work, but the regular members taught me how to work on wheelchairs in a gentle manner.
I visited Thailand and delivered wheelchairs to children there. I was filled with the sense of achievement when I saw children’s smiles and their families’ joy. I was really glad that I was of a little help for them.
Ms. Miki Takagi
Through this activity I’ve had opportunities to meet various people I wouldn’t have a chance to meet in college. It was good to meet people from abroad, too. I learned a lot about foreign food, culture, and even their circumstances.
When I visited Thailand to deliver wheelchairs to children there, I was really moved to hear the word, “Thank you” by the children and their families directly.
It was really great to have an opportunity to join this activity.I had a strong impression from your organization.
There are many people who are having harder time than me, especially disabled people, so I’d like to do as much as possible for them. Each time I joined this activity I thought about various things. I am grateful for giving me this opportunity.
Every time I was there, I felt warm atmosphere. Please keep on this significant activity. I’d like to join you again.
I am Gwen Hue Ron, Vietnamese.
I started to join this activity at the end of 2011.
I was born in a country which suffered a war, and I knew how hard the lives of the children who suffered it were. Not only in Vietnam but also in other countries such children are living a hard life, unable to buy a wheelchair. When I was in college in Vietnam I was interested in volunteering and did some volunteering, but I had no chance to help them at that time.
I thought it would be difficult for me to do the activity in this NPO, but once I joined, I found myself working joyfully and making new friends and even exchanging each other’s culture. I really appreciate this opportunity. I think this activity quite meaningful and have been introducing it to some of my friends. Now I join monthly meetings with them.
Now is the time people around the world have the same feeling. There are lots of people who want to give hands to disabled children. I’d like to tell more people about this activity and hope a lot more wheelchairs will be sent abroad.
Let’s work together!