Orphanage Visit #1: Review

Photo: Anna

15 excited volunteers headed to Inamien Children’s Home in Kaga this weekend for the first of our (hopefully many) Ishikawa Volunteers orphanage visits.

Inamien is situated in the onsen town of Katayamazu, in southern Ishikawa, and houses 60 children in total, from the ages of 2 to 18. Inamien is a really bright, modern and well-resourced Children’s Home, with amazing facilities including an incredible outdoor adventure playground (which we are definitely hoping to have a go on during our next visit).

Orphanages in Japan aren’t quite the same as those you might have seen in other countries or back home. Few of the children are technically “orphans” – it’s more likely that they come from single parent families, or households which struggle to cope with their needs. Some of the children may have learning difficulties or behavioral problems, but often, as we saw on Saturday, they are just very sweet kids who are delighted to get some adult attention.

Our aims were to hang out with the kids, talk to them in English and Japanese and have fun! First, we separated children and volunteers into 3 groups. One group did drawing and coloring, which resulted in some amazing portraits of the volunteers, particularly Herbs. The second group did origami, where the adults tried and failed to match the shuriken-making skills of the Elementary kids. The third group played games with the kids, and watching Jon-Mark getting chased, caught and felled by a 5-year-old during a game of ‘Duck, duck, goose’ will be a lasting memory. After 20 minutes the children changed activities. At the end we played a game of Daruma-san ga koronda (which is similar to ‘statues’, or ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf’).

Photo: Anna

All the resources we used at Inamien were funded by the money raised at the Ishikawa AJET Casino Night in February. Thank you Stacy and Bill and everyone who made that happen!

The kids were so happy to see us and it was a really enjoyable, feel-good way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Afterwards the Director of Inamien told us they’re looking forward to our return in May. Thanks again to everyone who came along and made our first visit a success!

We had such an overwhelming response to our request for volunteers from all over Ishikawa. As well as the 15 people who came along on the Inamien visit, we also have another 14 people who have shown interest in volunteering. The next step is to start organizing visits to orphanages in other areas of the prefecture.

If you’d like to get involved, or know of an orphanage or Children’s Home in your area then please contact Anna at volunteerishikawa [at] gmail [dot] com

For more information on Japan’s orphanages in general, go to the Smile Kids Japan website.

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