On 26 April, the International School of the Sacred Heart (ISSH) community will gather to host the Family Festival.
In addition to entertainment and cuisine, the festival provides a chance for Sacred Heart students to promote charity organisations. This year, the focus will be on Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK), established by Elizabeth Oliver in 1990.
ISSH encourages its students to develop social awareness, and creates volunteer opportunities for them. Many students take advantage of this and give their time to non-profit organisations (NPOs) such as the food bank Second Harvest Japan, and the bilingual volunteer portal Hands On Tokyo.
Activities range from providing meals at Ueno Park to making rice cakes for homeless people at the Franciscan Chapel in Roppongi. Further, the Sacred Heart hot-lunch programme supports the Table for Two initiative, which guarantees a hot meal for one child in a developing country for each ISSH student given a nutritious lunch.
Every year, students are given the task of managing and publicising booths at the Family Festival. Charities with a presence at the event include Unicef, Nepal SEEDS and ARK.
ARK typically sells various items and uses the event to spread the word about its animal refuge. The charity’s objective is rescuing, and finding homes for, cats and dogs that have been abandoned or mistreated.
So far, ARK has rescued more than 3,000 dogs and 1,000 cats. It owns a shelter in Osaka where approximately 200 dogs and 160 cats are free to roam outdoors. The NPO is headquartered in the Kanto region, where animals are temporarily kept in foster homes until they are adopted.
ARK plans to expand and is in the process of establishing an animal welfare centre in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture. This will enable it to rescue more animals and further upgrade its facilities.
Many repeat visitors to the festival do not notice the ARK booth. Therefore, this year, several members the Sacred Heart community are helping the charity enhance its presence. ARK is not looking for donations, but to promote awareness among ISSH students about the group’s role in society.
The NPO will also provide information on its new centre in Sasayama. It aims to help students better understand the benefits of volunteering and donating to charities in general.
The Family Festival is a celebration of unity and culture, offering dining, socialising and learning opportunities for visitors.
Fair hours 10am–4pm; campus located across from Hiroo station. www.issh.ac.jp