Refugees International Japan (RIJ) held the opening ceremony of its 23rd Tree of Hope campaign in Akasaka’s Karajan Plaza, Ark Hills on 27 November.
The Light Up the Life of a Refugee Child ceremony marked the beginning of a number of activities to be held throughout December at the outdoor plaza. The events will include a variety of festive performances and Saturday markets.
The non-profit organisation, which began its work in 1979, provides hope for refugees by funding projects that help rebuild lives and restore human dignity in a sustainable and community-orientated way.
The St. Mary’s International School Men’s Choir opened the ceremony with a selection of seasonal-inspired songs, while the RIJ Tree of Hope was illuminated by Princess Akishino. It was the 21st occasion on which the princess had attended the event. The tree, adorned with decorations inspired by local school children, will remain in place until 6 January.
The charity’s approach to the projects it takes on is to focus on the specific needs of a community and the sustainability of the changes wrought.
RIJ President Jane Best MBE believes that some of the most effective programmes are those in which children spread a social message through art, song or dance, allowing them to have fun as well as play a valuable role in the community.
“Children need a secure environment and adult support as they grow and learn, building on layers of experience and learning”, Best said.
“Helping refugee children meet their physical and social needs means providing support to families and communities. This is the basic tenet of RIJ’s work”, she added.
All proceeds from the event will be used by RIJ in their work to assist refugees who have lost everything as a result of war and conflict.
Tree of Hope fundraising Saturday markets:
15 December (10am–4:30pm)
22, 29 December (10am–2pm)