- The third pillar of its mission is humanitarian aid. Could you explain this in more detail?
- A：A fundamental principle which guides the Wesley Foundation is "Faith, Hope, Love in Action". Humanitarian Aid literally embodies this principle which is aimed at assisting people, who are struggling or are experiencing a crisis Humanitarian aid fundamentally is about the upliftment of people in society who are unable to cope by themselves. This includes providing emergency relief in disasters such as earthquakes. Homeless people who live on the streets must also be seen as part of our emergency relief care.
- What does the Wesley Foundation's involvement in emergency relief entail?
- A: There are various ways of providing emergency relief. For instance, right after the earthquake, the Wesley Center opened up an emergency evacuation center in the building for Filippino people who were being victimized. Many stayed here for several nights. We are also actively supporting other organizations which help victims by providing grants. Also, to support students' activities in the disaster area, we have been offering scholarships. However, our focus is not so much on providing financial supports.
- Could you be more specific?
- A: One key issue is advocacy. The public are educated about the real situation faced by marginal people by attending seminars and lectures and considering what they can do to relieve these situations. By learning why and how we do certain things, we can learn to change the world.
The issue of human trafficking issue, for example, is one of hidden aspects in Japan. Migrant issues and poverty are also important. By co-sponsoring a movie and/or lectures dealing with these issue with other organizations specializing in these fields, we can reach out to people and make them aware of such problems which exist even in Japan.
- What would the Wesley Foundation like to achieve through offering these supports?
- A: Support cannot be one way only. Both parties should be benefit. One of our ongoing projects is supporting high-schools which send student delegations during school breaks. During each school break, high school students visit temporary housing projects and do volunteer work at their own expense. We support them by subsidizing their transportation, for example.
During their stay, they visit people living in temporary housing and talk with residents, play with children and do clean-up of debris. Such experiences teach students many things. By playing with the children their parents and grandparents are uplifted as they watch their kids having fun while playing with these cheerful high school students. It is a two-way learning and sharing experience. We would like to share our hope of living together in mutual harmony through these activities.
- Is the aim of the Wesley Foundation to change society by focusing their actions on these three pillars?
- A: One of our long term goals is to create a society where diverse people are able to live side by side. To achieve this, we need to develop leaders who can change the world. That is the primary aim of our activities.
Rev. Kokai took the position in June 2013 after spending over 20 years in the United States serving as a pastor of the United Methodist Church. Using her experiences in ministry and mission, she is now actively working for the empowerment of women and youth in Japan.