SHIKSHAMITRA is a process for learning to live better. It is a space where one

learns to keep well and to help others keep well too. Shikshamitra has an address.

However, it goes beyond this – permeating into the lives of many, influencing

one’s choices in life and ways of life. To be associated with Shikshamitra is to assume

the responsibility of trying to live better. It is a continuous attempt to search for

activities that inspire life and build trust, or, it is an attempt to keep away from

anything to the contrary. Shikshamitra is a means toward becoming aware of

how much one can be and knowing exactly what one’s limitations are.

August 19, 2011

"We Are With You!"

This week, Shikshamitra had the pleasure of hosting our friends, Etsuko and Michael Yamaguchi from Kolkata Seeds-Japan – a Japanese organization which has provided financial and moral support to us over the past four years years. We would like to show our sincere appreciation for their continued support to us despite the crisis situation in Japan. We really enjoyed your recent visit!

On Wednesday afternoon, we sat in a circle with the Yamaguchis for tea, snacks and chatting in the classroom of our new space. After reporting on our move and what has been happening with everyone at Shikshamitra, the discussion turned to the current situation in Japan. The children had many questions for Etsuko and Michael, who have also been raising money to send to areas that were affected by the tsunami in the northern part of Japan.

When the question of what the biggest obstacles are arose, Michael explained something that really impressed upon us how great the devastation there is. He said that it is difficult for people to find jobs. He added, however, that even if there is a job the person applying has lost all his/her identity so it is difficult to submit the right paperwork. Along with clothes, photographs, possessions, all personal records were also washed away: photo ID cards, computers, birth certificates AND the schools, banks, government offices that might hold records regarding the identity of the citizens. Everything is now gone and people have to start their lives all over from zero. He told us about the trauma that this can cause. Many children lost their parents and people in the Kansai area are trying to lend support by offering their homes and taking part in fundraising activities. The whole country has come together to keep Japan afloat and he said that it is amazing to be a part of this spirit.

We also asked about the accident at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima and he said that now Japanese people are questioning the safety of these plants and working to shut them down and find alternatives.

We asked what we could do from here and the Yamaguchis suggested that we send our good energy there all the time, in any form. We decided that we would make a banner that they could carry back to Japan, a banner with the message that we are thinking of them and that they are not alone in this world despite such difficult times.

On Thursday we all met again and set to work designing and crafting the banner with fabric, pencil and paint. Everyone did some work on it and we ended up putting our message, "We Are With You!" in three different languages on the piece: Bengali, English and Japanese. We all enjoyed trying to learn some words in Japanese and Bengali and being creative together! Once we had put down the design and painted it up, we all put our signatures on it and folded it up to send off to Japan with Etsuko and Michael.

We truly appreciated your enlightening visit and look forward to hearing more reports back from Japan!