The children returned home having firmly received the aloha spirit.
Rainbow for Japan Kids is a project that embodied the “aloha spirit” from Hawaii. 12 children came to Hawaii for the 5th project. They, who came from 2 prefectures in the Tohoku area, took part in an experience program that spanned 9 days, and at the end of the year they returned to Japan with happy tears and big smiles.
“Thank you to everyone involved in this program. Thank you to the children for their smiles.”
A mother of one of the children who participated from Fukushima prefecture had this to say to the executive committee. This project was started by Hawaii volunteers immediately following the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This project, too, was based on the support of many individuals and groups from Hawaii with Japan Airlines, First Hawaiian Bank, Studio Rim Hawaii, Lighthouse Hawaii, Hawaii Senior Life Enrichment Association, and the Nadeshiko Club at the center. This project began on December 23, 2012.
The children that visited Hawaii for this project included 6 children from Miyako city in Iwate prefecture and 6 children from Iwaki city in Fukushima prefecture making a total of 12 children. All of them were affected by the earthquake, tsunami, or radioactivity, and have had difficulty with their lives and studies. We want those kinds of children to experience the people, nature, and culture of Hawaii. We want to enrich their hearts if even by a little bit. We want them to once again envision the dreams they started to forget as well as feel the aloha spirit of Hawaii with their entire beings. It is those kinds of thoughts that are put into this project.
This is not just a simple trip, but it is a hands-on and interactive educational travel program in which the children experience the nature that Hawaii is blessed with as well as interacting with the children of Hawaii. The children were able to enjoy Hawaii in-person such as experiencing Hawaiian culture on the island of Hawaii, lodging at “Makoa,” a tour facility surrounded by nature, hiking with the local children on the island of Oahu, and experiencing a home Christmas. The children fully enjoyed each of those experiences and firmly received the aloha spirit after which they returned home. Having the children build long-lasting friendly relationships with the local children of the same generation is also a big part of this program.
We should convey the “aloha spirit” of Hawaii to the children. Actually, there has been a string of businesses and groups who have provided us with their support free of charge from lodgings and activities to boxed lunches and drinks to the digital cameras the children used along the journey. Even the actual program operations are run by volunteers, and there are also many individuals who offered their donations. This project is made up of the generous support and collaborative efforts of the people who sympathize with the aims of the project, and that spirit has been firmly conveyed to the children.
“We didn’t think that this many people would go to this length and do all of these things for us. It’s the first time we experienced anything like this, and we are really happy…,” said a child who was brought to tears. “In the future I’ll go on to attend the University of Hawaii.” “I’ll certainly come back to Hawaii.” “I’ll surely tell everyone about my experiences in Hawaii.” Hawaii has without a doubt been engraved into the hearts of each of the children, and a bright light has shone in their eyes revealing to them a hopeful future.