Episcopalian volunteers assist Filipina Catholics with their studies
Since July, the Japanese branch of the Anglican Communion, Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK), has been helping Filipinas living in parts of Japan affected by last year’s disaster to rebuild their lives.
The NSKK’s “Let Us Walk Together" project is centered about 370 kilometers northeast of Tokyo in Minamisanriku, in Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated in the tsunami that struck the north east coast of Japan in March last year.
The project is aimed at helping these women, many who moved to this rural part of the country to marry Japanese men, gain entry-level certification as care workers for the elderly.
At the end of last year six women took and passed their third written test, and on January 14 they moved into the practical skills portion of their curriculum. All the women enrolled on the course are Catholics.
The course started when Kei Ikezumi, who now acts as the project’s liaison officer to foreign residents, met Amelia Sasaki in Minamisanriku. Amelia is the leader of a group of Catholic Filipina disaster survivors.
Amelia said that she wanted to obtain a certification of Japanese proficiency, because “it would open doors to a greater selection of jobs.”
The classrooms for the women are in a prefabricated building Amelia spent all her resources on constructing after the disaster in the hope of re-opening a private English school she had run before the tsunami destroyed it—along with her home and almost everything else in the city.
Every Saturday, the NSKK project volunteers drive two hours from Sendai City to conduct the lessons. The volunteers have knowledge in the field of care-giving, and teach their pupils basic kanji
(Chinese characters used in Japanese writing).
Course expenses and the cost of classroom materials are being covered entirely by the NSKK, money drawn largely from funds donated by the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Father Jun Nakamura, the NSKK priest in charge of the project, said: “As fellow religious people, we want to offer our assistance and, in cooperation with everyone else, give whatever aid we can to disaster victims. Our contribution is small, but now that we have learned from this initial experience, we hope to offer similar lessons to people in other areas starting in maybe April or May.”
Fr Nakamura is very careful to respect the faith of the Filipina, and to that end is also giving reports on the status of relief efforts to local Catholic priests and to Catholic Bishop Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai diocese.
Filipinas survive in tsunami zone