RIJ at the South African Chamber of Commerce Japan Christmas party

By Kanako, an RIJ Intern

Here is an update on the South African Chamber of Commerce Japan’s (SACCJ) Christmas party that took place in Omotesando a week ago. SACCJ kindly chose Refugees International Japan as their charity for their festive dinner party this year.

¥500 out of everyone’s entrance fee went straight towards a project in Johannesburg, South Africa called Bienvenue Shelter, that assists women and children find shelter, schooling, and work. Women and children can stay in the shelter for up to three months while they receive advice and assistance for living in Johannesburg.  They then move on to be self-sufficient but can use the creche facilities at the shelter and continue skills training if they wish. Just ¥2,000 supports one family for one whole month, providing education, housing and food.

When selecting projects to fund, Refugees International Japan recognized that Bienvenue Shelter fit the three fundamental, interlinked tenets, that we look for: “feed, shelter, and educate”. As that the majority of refugees are women and children, (the men in the families tend to not flee in order to salvage their land, or they get killed in the conflict)  women carry a huge burden to raise their children and to assimilate to the country in which they fled and continue to provide for their families. What Bienvenue Shelter provides is exactly what those women and children need in order to recover physically and psychologically and start rebuilding their lives.

At the party, I met many people in business corporations and discussed their company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, and also became acquainted with two students of Forum for the Future (FFF) from Tokyo University, who were interested in RIJ’s global activities and student involvement with the Student Leadership Program.

As Jane was in Thailand to overlook a project along the Thai-Burma border at the time, I gave a speech to the attendees there at the party, talking about RIJ and Bienvenue Shelter as well as asking them for their kindness this holiday season in giving a gift to those families in Johannesburg that are need. Along with Brian Gregory, an RIJ Ambassador and his son Justin, we collected more than ¥35,000 in donations.

Special thank yous to all the supporters, attendees and organizers at the SACCJ Christmas party, and Brian and Justin Gregory for their commitment to Refugees International Japan.

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