This is a service activity that I have been part of since 9th grade.
I would not have known about Chiku service if it weren’t for this activity. I lived in the area for 10 years and never knew there was a Chiku service area. By being part of this activity I learned more about volunteer work and the community around me. I learned that small changes could make a big impact for the homeless ––– donating food and clothes means that more individuals won’t have an empty stomach and will be able to keep warm especially during the winter. I came to realize that everyone, even those who live on the streets have a unique story, it is important to understand and accept people and not marginalize them. I think that this is important knowledge to gain because we need to know that everyone does not live the same lifestyle and we have to be thankful for the things we have.
This knowledge about the world made me understand to value and not waste, also not to complain about things I don’t have because there are people in the world who may not even have basic necessities. However, this also made me question whether certain volunteers are doing the right thing. Are we actually helping them? Many people may think the homeless people are happy just like that because they get money from the government. The homeless sometimes gets more money from the government than some people are paid from working. So maybe the homeless are just lazy? If we donate to them food and supplies wouldn’t they just become lazier and rely on those donations rather than trying to earn their food and supplies from working? Yes, it may be true for some people, but not for many others. There are many barriers the homeless experience, they are marginalized, and people tend to stay away from them because of their physical appearance, therefore, making it very difficult to find jobs ––– from the research we did during Chiku meetings, we learned that many of these people earn small incomes from sorting and collecting trash such as cans and magazines.
Working collaboratively with others:
In the Chiku group, we have split ourselves into smaller groups with more focused tasks (Awareness, fundraising, communication, onigiri, and events). I am part of the onigiri group, our job is to organize the onigiri making sessions which happens once a month. During the onigiri sessions, we work together to make more than 100 onigiris which will be served to the homeless during lunch. The elementary children are often at these sessions to help us make onigiris too. These sessions usually take place early in the morning. Sometimes we have to prepare onigiris for service events as well, in these cases, only the onigiri group is there to make more than 100 onigiris and this usually takes us more than 2 hours to make. Although these sessions are not mandatory for all Chiku members, everyone still takes their time off to come to these sessions.