Ototake Hirotada and Funkist visit Hashiura Elementary School!
On December 23, a special Christmas event was held at Hashiura Elementary School in Ishinomaki. The event included a special class by Mr Ototake Hirotada, well-known for his book “No One’s Perfect,” a live performance by FUNKIST and a concert by the “music volunteer club” formed by students of this school.
Ototake Hirotada joined Peace Boat’s global voyage as a guest educator in April 2011. A teacher as well as an author, this led to plans between Mr Ototake and Peace Boat to visit disaster affected areas to hold special programmes to cheer up children; the first of which was held at Watanoha Elementary School in May. This visit is also described in his recently published book, “Hope: Reflections from the affected area.”
After his first visit, Mr Ototake visited Ishinomaki once again in July with the band Funkist, together holding an event at Hashiura Elementary School. FUNKIST have also cooperated with Peace Boat in the past through projects to deliver soccer balls to children in developing countries, performances onboard Peace Boat’s global voyages, and participation at Peace Boat organized events and conferences.
Hashiura Elementary School now also hosts students from Yoshihama and Aikawa Elementary Schools, which were damaged by the earthquake. Peace Boat has visited this school many times to deliver meals and implement other projects, and this was the first time for Mr Ototake and FUNKIST to return since July. FUNKIST had been raising funds at their concerts to support Hashiura Elementary School and other local schools to purchase musical instruments and encourage the student-formed “music volunteer club.” The event featured in this report was organized as a result of the students’ passion to perform with these instruments, and Peace Boat provided assistance in the events organisation including the preparation of snacks and presents.
MC of the event was Ueno Yoshinori (Loft Project), one of the first Peace Boat members to enter the affected area in Ishinomaki in March and who has been working closely since with Peace Boat, Mr Ototake and FUNKIST.
During their special concert, FUNKIST also performed their new song “Kizuna” (connections). Mr Ototake wrote the lyrics for this song after being moved by hearing children of Hashiura Elementary School talk of wanting to “become an adult who can help other people.”
Mr Ototake and members of FUNKIST returned to the stage in Santa costumes, performing and then presenting presents to the children. Peace Boat also shared chocolate-coated bananas prepared the day before.
A commemorative photo was taken together at the end, showing the smiles of all involved on the day. Thank you very much to all!
Photos: Ueno Yoshinori, Stacy Hughes, Peace Boat