Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Write for Rights part II

Thank you, ladies.
13 people joined us at the event and a total of 150 letters(!) have been sent to Iran, China, Zimbabwe, North Korea (Switzerland), Mexico, and Bahrain. With your generous donation, all the postage was covered and the rest was donated to Amnesty International by Vera.

Approximately 265,000 letters were sent worldwide during this campaign and I am so happy to have done this with you all.

I hope that all the people we wrote to together will stay in our heart and prayers and they will be freed.

Lastly, thank you for your help with the letters, Ingrid.

Enjoyed meeting new friends.  Thank you for bringing sweets and snacks.

2011 Write for Rights with Amnesty part I

I have been an Amnesty International member for a while. Even though I have sent a couple of small cards to those falsely imprisoned, I have to admit I hadn't quite believed in the power of letters until I read an Enews about past Write for Rights,  and how it had saved lives and delivered hopes.

Immediately I thought of joining the event pledging I would write about 10 letters.

From time to time in life, valuable signs appear in unexpected moments and ways.

About a week later,  I was looking for a vegetarian restaurant my friend once talked about on the web and when I looked up its location, I realized that it was only walking distance from the Rothko Chapel.   This chapel is a beautiful, meditating place for people of every belief.

I am now sadly counting down my days in the US  and this was one of the places I had really wanted to visit but never had the chance. Wow, it's almost like it is telling me to come!  Yes, I am going this time. Then on the event schedule, I found the Oscar Romero award ceremony and the familiar name, Larry Cox.  He was the former executive director at Amnesty International and he will be speaking.

My oldest daughter and my two friends, Akiko and Hiromi, joined me at the ceremony. It was quiet and moving. We were captivated by the powerful human rights speech by award recipient, Madame Nassau, and that of Larry Cox.  The words were powerful because these individuals had seen the worst that I can never even begin to imagine. It was powerful because even though they had seen the worst, they see the lights.

The ceremony was quite long but at the end as I hoped, I was able to ask Madame Nassau for her hands. I wanted to hold her hands because her son has been missing since 13 years ago. She tirelessly kept finding to unveil the mystery behind this tragedy and finally traced where the families of all 7,000 missing men and women were in Algeria.

The kidnap was a job brutally done by the government.

Justice is still far away but beautiful and soft spoken Madame Nassau and the warmth of her hands will surely give me courage in difficult times.

Back to Write for Rights.

Instead of writing letters just by myself, what I experienced this day gave me a tap on the shoulder to plan and host a write-a-thon. I asked support from my very best friend Vera who strongly believes the power of the pen and despite her busy schedule, she helped me in so many ways.

This is the invitation.
Dear Friends,
Something is not going right. People are protesting all around the world. But what if just voicing your opinion could lead you to torture and imprisonment?

My friend Vera and I are hosting 2011 Global Write for Rights w/ Amnesty International. By writing letters we can save somebody's life. It's true. Aung San Suu Kyi says so! Also we can send those falsely imprisoned hope by including them in our prayers in this holiday season.

We hope it will be a meaningful morning shared among friends.
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 8th
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Place: Mariko's house
*Please R.S.V.P.
** Drink and snack will be served.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pray for Japan VIII: Showing Japan's Art and Crafts Sale at ICH Fair

わずか7ヶ月と大変短い期間ですが、仲間に入れていただいたショーイングジャパンにもそろそろお別れです。いつも地元の人々のニーズに応え、日本文化の発信に務めてきたヒューストンのこの団体に少しでも恩返しができたら?と思いクラフトセールの参加を打診してみました。さすがSJチーム、あっというまにメンバー集まる!この売上金を活動費の足しにできれば、と思ったのは私の勝手な考えですが、結局メンバーの皆さんの協力がなければ無理なのです。かえってご迷惑にならなかったことを祈ります。。。 しかし沢山のことを学ばさせていただきました。感謝感激雨あられ、とはまさにこのこと。

嗚呼、「毎日が実験」の私の生活。でもこういうことをキッチンの片隅でやってると本当に楽しー。(日本に帰ったらそんなスペースないぞ。。。) 多めに作ってクリスマスのプレゼントに友人に差し上げたら喜んでもらえました。でもやはりこちらの方々は「派手」なものがお好きなようで、「雪」をイメージして選んだ白地に美しい模様が透ける布で折ったものは一番人気がなかったです。私はこれが一番好きだったんだけどな。

11月17日(木) 10:00〜12:00
ヒューストンにICH(International Connection of Houston)という団体があります。これは海外からヒューストンに駐在している人々、もしくはアメリカから海外に駐在、滞在経験がある人々の文化交流機会を提供するNPOです。 毎年ICHはクリスマス前にArt & Crafts Fairを開催するのですが、なかなか人気のフェアということで、今回ははショーイングジャパンもブースを出すことにいたしました。

時節柄プレゼントを探すお客様が多く、折り鶴のピアスや同じく鶴のクリスマスオーナメントがよく売れたようです。売り娘(?)の着物や法被姿を喜んでご覧になって行ったお客様が多かったです。参加者もブースをぬけては買い物を楽しみました。 短い準備期間で品物作りや値付け等にご協力頂いた皆様、ありがとうございました。売り上げの一部を震災の復興費としてグローバルギビング経由で寄付させていただきました。