In the first semester of this school year, I joined the GIN Chiku group, hoping to learn more about the state of the homeless people in Japan, particularly in the region I live, and how we can help them effectively. I also thought that participating in this service would help me perceive the specific issues the homeless people around Yokohama, where I live, face.
My first visit to the Chiku center was in October. I participated in the morning session from 7:45 to 9:00a.m. to help prepare lunch for the homeless people. I cut vegetables with the other volunteers who were also helping out, while I learned about their past sessions and the afternoon session when they serve the food to the homeless. For example, they told me that they made 800 meals last time and that it was very busy. I also learned that since some of the people have difficulty with swallowing food, the vegetables need to be cut into small pieces, especially for those with leaves, so that they do not get stuck in their throats or cause any health issues. I still remember being impressed by the care and thought the volunteers put for the homeless people as well as their detailed knowledge on the homeless people.
I visited the Chiku center again in November for the morning session. This time, my role was to wash the vegetables. I felt that I was able to communicate more with the volunteers and get to know them and the Chiku community, compared to last time. I worked closely with one of the volunteers as seen in the picture below, and I had the opportunity to learn and ask various questions. For example, she taught me that the food they serve always changes depending on the ingredients they receive on that day. Not only that, I also got to know her better; for example, she told me that it has been less than a year for her to join this community and that she was impressed with how people get together to help the homeless. She also said that it would be even better if more schools, including Japanese schools, were involved in this so that more people would be helping out too. This experience made me realize how meaningful it is for our school to be involved in these services, and how significant it is to keep this service ongoing in order to keep providing food for the homeless people. By helping out, we would be able to lessen the work of the volunteers, who were mostly elders, in addition to helping out the homeless people.