GCD: Community Engagement. Chiku Center Homeless Service

Homelessness in Kotobuki: Kotobuki is a city located in Yokohama, Japan. In the past, it was very easy to get a job for the day in construction or on the docks to help country’s import-export industries and shipping trades. However, due to the burst of Japan’s bubble economy in early 1990s, the demand for these day labourers have decreased drastically. In addition, the development in technology have reduced employment for casual workers. People who are unable to afford and rent their rooms are ending up homeless. They are all unfortunate people. The numbers of homelessness in this area is increasing. Many people do not have access to their minimum needs for living, due to lack of income and poverty.

Shelter, food, clothes is the minimum needs for human and yet, homeless people in kotobuki-cho lacks the access to these basic needs. Therefore, the authentic need for this community are these minimum needs, and the possibility to help solve this community is to provide these needs, to able to keep people safe and to improve their standard of life.

Chiku center Projet: By getting involved in this service group, it allowed me to help the homeless people in Yokohama area, and to get engaged with the Yokohama community. I went to Chiku center in the morning (8:00 a.m) to help the organisation who prepares lunches for the homeless people around this community. I have helped by washing and cutting vegetables. While working, I had a chance to talk with some of the people who was waiting to get their meal. Since my strengths is being able to communicate with various of people, I was able to communicate with them, hearing about their personal stories(how they became homeless) and some of their future dreams. I was able to get in touch with the community by communicating with them. I was also spreading awareness of homelessness in YIS, by having a booth at the food fair (a school event/festival). The group have organised a mini activity for everyone to be able to participate, have fun, and learn about what we are doing. I also made brochures for people to be able to read and learn more details about our group and about homelessness in this community.

Community engagement through Chiku center was an eye-opening experience and I learnt a lot from this experience. By seeing the conditions of homeless people, I was able to understand how lucky and fortunate I am. It was really shocking to hear that when it rains, they have no place to sleep. The sidewalks, park grounds, back alleys will get wet and flooded. They have no choice but to find a place that could make them keep dry. In addition, the problems and struggles that I had in my life seemed to be very small, when I found the troubles that homeless people needs to face everyday. These experiences and realisations made my perspective open widely, and notice what is really happening in my city. By being very fortunate to be brought up in a very good environment, getting quality education and to work hard to achieve a lot of success. This makes me get in to a position that makes me feel that I deserve to have the success because of my hard work. However, the reality is that I was able to get this life by living in a “protected bubble,” built by the society classes. The life would have been very difference if I was born in a circumstances that could come across poor & homelessness. It seemed that poverty and homelessness have existed in different world. However, by getting involved in these volunteers, if have widened my perspective and realised how fortunate I was, and how unfortunate they are, and the need of me helping them, to reduce the inequality for all to have a better life.

Most of the homeless people are not in the condition to work due to the lack of the minimum needs. So we need to help them solve these basic needs, to be able to work with hope, to pursue their dreams. Even a small action, like what I did at the Chiku Center (providing and helping prepare a meal for the homeless people) really helps to meet their basic needs and to improve them to achieve the condition that they can work. These action also matters to us because it reminds ourselves that there are still many people who are less privileged, and unfortunate, and to not get stuck in our own perception of “success” and our own world. In addition, by encountering many people helping and trying their best to solve this issue, I realise that there is many hope in humanity, and hope exists in the community, and that we can all be part of it.

We all have the responsibility of helping each other, because we all have times when we need help, and without any help, nothing will change. We are all same human and the only difference is the way we live, and I think what matters the most in what we live for, is how we connect to people. Helping is a way to connect to people. It does not matters who they are, what matters is they are human beings and we are of same race, and we all have the responsibility to help each other because we are all the same.

I strongly hope and believe that my action will influence others, to make them know about the importance of realising these issues and the necessity for us to help them.The more people getting involved, it could make greater and better change in the society.

One Response

  1. Ms.Urquhart at |

    Hi Ayaka,

    I’m reviewing this post as part of the GCD Community Engagement core value. Your post does show that you were involved in a worthwhile experience that does support community needs. But I am left wondering how you see your involvement as making a positive difference in the issue of poverty in Japan. Here are some questions you might want to think about (from GCD website: https://globalcitizendiploma.org/reflection-guidelines/)

    Why does it matter? Are you different as a result? What will stay with you? How are your strengths, interests, passions connecting? What do you now know that you don’t know?

    The other aspect to consider is that community engagement really emphasizes long term and deep engagement. Are you visiting the Chiku Centre regularly? Or just once? Give this some thought and consider revising for resubmission. Let me know if you have questions!

    -Ms.Urquhart

    Reply

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