Image being forced to leave your home because there is war all around you, or because your children are starving to death, or because the government wants to kill you for standing up for your rights. You go to another country where you don’t know the language, any people, and have no idea what the future holds. Pretty frightening, huh? How fortunate most of us are not to go through such an ordeal.
Yet, that is the life of many refugees around the world. I had the opportunity to go to Icho Apartments (イチョウ団地）in Kanagawa, where many refugees (mainly from Southeast Asia and South America) live together with Japanese. Despite their difficult circumstances, they were full of life and the spirit of giving, offering food (for free) and holding performances of their respective countries at their multi-cultural festival （多文化祭り）. What a beautiful thing to see – the “poor volunteering for the rich.” We usually assume it’s the other way around.
It goes to show that all of us have something worthwhile to give. You, too, can find your gift and something you enjoy doing, and share that with others – this has a boomerang effect with others wishing to share with you, and everyone benefits. The people’s spirit of sharing and caring at Icho Apartments has brought in many volunteers from outside (to teach Japanese, play with the kids, etc. – www.tmkobo.com/join.html ) , and it is in making and deepening such relationships that everyone can lead more fulfilling lives.
Be good to yourself – doing something you enjoy and are good at, sharing it with others, and experiencing the joy of connecting!