Focus 2009

Hamamatsu - GIA15-07-2009

School support young people in Hamamatsu-Japan

Project Hamamatsu Parish
Date: January 2009
Place: Hamamatsu, Japan
Province: GIA

School support in Hamamatsu-Japan for young people unable to attend school

The financial crisis which began in 2008 had particular impact in Hamamatsu which depends significantly on the automotive industry. Many foreign workers lost their jobs. As a result this meant a loss of livlihood, difficulty in obtaining food, children having to leave school, especially those attending schools for Brazilian migrants.

Being part of this situation, Hamamatsu Parish, run by the Salesians since April 2007, and following in Don Bosco's footsteps, decided to offer schooling support for all these young people. The first such project began in February and March for 30 youngsters. A second project then began in April and will run until March 2010. The children's ages are from 6 - 16. Of 53 children 33 are from 10-16 years of age. They come to the Parish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They are offered free transport, classes, lunch and scholastic materials. The nation's Ministry of education is offering a financial subsidy for teachers and some assistants. This is just for 60 days. The project itself last 100 days. Cooks, drivers and other services are all offered free. The total cost of the project is around 20 million Yen. The Ministry is covering just a quarter of that. The rest has to be found.

Some reflections:

1. Returning to Don Bosco means returning to the young. The real presence of young people in need has enabled this return and the Salesians are burning with the same fire that our Founder fanned amongst the first Salesians.

2. Returning to Don Bosco is returning to the spirit of the Oratory: a home that welcomes, a school that teaches, a parish that evangelises and playground where people become friends. We can see the validity of these elements for forming these youngsters who have been put at the margins of the place where they live (need to be welcomed), who have a problem of not fully knowing the language,and are sure neither of Japanese nor Portuguese (need to study a language well), some do not even know how to make the Sign of the Cross, or say the basic prayers (need for evangelisation), and because of their parents' unemployment they live amidst tension and stress (need to play, jump, shout..).

3. When the initiative comes from God, He himself sees to the people and the financial meansneeded. As Sons of Don Bosco we pray that He will teach us where to find what we need so we can go and get it. We live and breathe Divine Providence daily.

4. This project of school support involves many people, beginning with those who are nearby and extending to those living a long way off geographically speaking (other cities and provinces) as well as those of different faiths (Christian, non-catholic and non-Christian).

5. Bro Artémides Zatti is the Patron of the Project. In 2007, a doctor who was baptised in our paprish along with his entire family, inherited a clinic from his Uncle. He decided to give it a new name. After much thought he still could not find a name that satisfied him. So he called me asking what name he might take. What came immediately to mind for me was Bro Zatti. The doctor was happy and gave this name to his clinic. At the beginning of this year, he got in touch and told me the clinic was going very well, that the waiting room had become a place for much warmth and familiarity and that it was running at a profit. Like Artémides he had had his problems as a youngster but thanks tot he help of the Salesians he was able to study and be educated, and so he wanted the children from Hamamatsu to also be able to continue their schooling. he sent me a large sum of money to help. It was just when we were doubting whether or not to set up the second project. This sign from Bro Zatti was a sign from heaven for us which dispersed all the clouds that were hovering over us.

Address: Ebitsuka 2-2-13,
Hamamatsu Shi,
432-8033 Shizouka-ken
Tel: (053) 454-0513