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Won Grand Prix of PR Contest by Gakuvo!
"Importance of meeting" learned from work camp

Ms. Eriko Kajita

WASEDA University has many volunteer organizations. Everyone has their own reason or cause to participate, but what is common is the fact that "everyone has a moment of passion in their heart and feels good responses from the activities." With a carefree smiling face, Ms. Kajita says naturally, "I'm happy to live." From Ms. Kajita who says, "I love work camps," honestly and straightforward, we can feel her strong energy of life.

With an old man she got to know at a village of residents recovering from Hansen's disease

The student NGO, "QIAO," to which Ms. Kajita belongs is an organization that hosts work camps at villages whose residents have recovered from Hansen's disease in Chinese villages (colonies). The members stay at such a village for two weeks during term holidays and live together with the villagers and local university students. They work with the local people through activities such as the improvement of roads and repair of roofs and engage in activities to eliminate discrimination and prejudice about the disease.

"What is attractive about this activity is that in an extraordinary environment, we can mutually stand face to face by crying, laughing, getting angry, sharing emotions and exposing our true selves," Ms. Kajita says. "I simply come to like people and want to meet them again, not feeling that I'm serving them as a volunteer. Local people wait for us, too. Regardless of history or nationalities, people can feel ties. Meeting people makes us happy."

The reason Ms. Kajita became interested in volunteer activities was a piece of chocolate. When she went to Australia to study in second grade of high school, one of her classmates sold chocolate that cost two dollars at a price of three dollars and donated the extra one dollar. It was a style of daily volunteer activities not found in Japan.

1st PR contest hosted by Gakuvo

"I realized I could make a small tie with people I didn't know just by buying a piece of chocolate." After returning to Japan, she felt like learning about social issues from multiple angles and entered the School of Social Sciences, WASEDA University. "WASEDA has a volunteer culture, so it is easy to take part in activities. I'm grateful to have met my friends at QIAO and to have the chance to go to China."

Ms. Kajita is also active in another NGO, "DAWN" Asian Camp Network. The purpose of the activities of DAWN is to build links among organizations conducting work camps in Asia. Small activities can become bigger activities when mutually united. She is also active in public relations, and participated in a PR contest held by Gakuvo (Japan Foundation's student volunteer center), which is a commercial contest to communicate the attractiveness of volunteer activities. She produced her work, believing that if she could communicate a cheerful atmosphere, the power of work camps would be understood. Her commercial proceeded with a good tempo in an enjoyable atmosphere, enabling the audience to understand the fun of work camps. She put all her enthusiasm into the catch copy of "Go to meet!" and won the grand prix!

She plans to deploy work camps in Indian villages whose residents are recovering from Hansen's disease. "The more people that come to realize that people are all the same through work camps, then India will become an easier place to live. In the future, I want to live in India and build a guest house to serve as a base for work campers." Ms. Kajita's enthusiasm is getting stronger and stronger.

Village of Bishnupur, Ms. Kajita on the left

Building a house with QIAO members

Spring festival "Holly Festival" that involves throwing color powder at each other

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Eriko Kajita

Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1989. Graduated from Seirinkan High School. Fourth-year, School of Social Sciences. Belongs to "QIAO," student NGO to contribute to Hansen's disease issues hosted by WAVOC. Former 5th representative of the organization. Won grand prix at the 1st PR contest held by Gakuvo through the activities of "DAWN," Asia Camp Network of organizations active in villages whose residents have recovered from Hansen's disease. She newly established an Indian work camp organization, namaste!, to host the 1st India Hansen's Disease Colony Work Camp scheduled for September.