The COVID-19 pandemic, whether in Malawi or Japan, has exacerbated child poverty. In both countries disadvantaged students struggle to receive food and other social services. It may sound surprising but even in relatively prosperous Japan many students rely on schools for access to nutritious meals. Our team in Malawi have spent the best part of 2020 providing emergency food packs to families of nursery and primary school-age children. In Japan some school districts did the same- delivering school lunches to families.
Since May of 2019 Seibo has assisted in providing an evening meal for Tokyo-based disadvantaged children at Happy House- a bi-weekly after-school homework & feeding programme. Unfortunately since February 20th the activities at Happy House have been suspended. However since June, families whose children are registered as beneficiaries have been receiving home-delivered food parcels.
The families in need of food parcels are children of international marriages, many of whom are raised in single-mother families. In many cases the moms work long, late hours and there are times when the children are left to provide for themselves.
Happy House volunteers responded to the need for assistance by distributing food packs containing rice, meat and vegetables. A LINE group was created to enable volunteers and moms to communicate better and to be able to respond quicker to any situations that might arise.
A Volunteer’s Perspective
Although the opportunity to meet with the children who previously attended Happy House has been reduced, we manage to meet once a month. One child who recently stopped attending school expressed interest in learning the guitar, so we sourced a guitar and since then this child has been practicing daily and has gradually become more positive. As a volunteer the ability to interact with the children and help reduce their anxiety has kept me positive and we are as ever thankful for everyone’s support to make this possible.