Podcast by Let’s Talk Japan featuring Meredith Smith

small dotIn this episode, Nick speaks with Meredith Smith, Media and Public Relations Director for Smile Kids Japan.   Since 2008, Meredith has worked as an ALT on the JET Program and has volunteered with Smile Kids Japan since 2009.  Smile Kids Japan is a volunteer organization that encourages visits to Japanese orphanages.  Through its website and volunteer leadership, Smile Kids Japan helps facilitate such visits by serving as a resource for best practices and activity ideas.  This is an amazing organization, and I’m glad to help share their story.

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Taylor Anderson Fund

Even After Death, Teacher’s Impact Lives On

CBS6 News in Richmond, VA talks about Taylor Anderson Fund and relief efforts by Smile Kids Japan and volunteerAkita.

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SKJ Speaks at TEDxTokyo: Enter the Unknown

TEDx 11 POSTERSmile Kids Japan Founder Michael Maher King is going to be speaking at TEDxTokyo: Enter the Unknown.

For more information please see the attached press release.

English Press Release

Japanese Press Release

Find out more about TEDxTokyo here!

Looking for Home Communications Managers

Are you a warm-hearted, motivated and organised individual looking for a way to support your community during this difficult time? Can you guarantee that you will be in Japan for at least one more year?

Smile Kids Japan has partnered with Living Dreams to form Smiles and Dreams: Tohoku Kids’ Project. The intention is to build and continue strong relationships with the 18 childrens’ homes in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, in order to set up regular fun and interactive volunteer visits for the children at these homes. Although the Tohoku Kids’ Project focuses on these 18 childrens’ homes, our ultimate goal is to have regular visits set up in all orphanages across Japan within the next 3 years. For this, we need you.

Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams are looking for Home Communications Managers (HCMs). HCM responsibilities will include:

  • Fostering personal relationships with staff members at a children’s home to establish and maintain regular, long-term visits as frequently as possible, but at least every 3 months.
  • Conducting needs assessments of the home and acting as a liaison between that home and members of the Tohoku Kids’ Project
  • Helping distribute items that are donated to children’s homes
  • Attending events organised by the Tohoku Kids’ Project that take place at the home as often as possible

Our goal is to have two HCMs for each home in an effort to make the workload easier for our HCMs. One HCM will require good Japanese, but both coordinators do not have to speak fluently.

As an HCM you do not have to worry about working alone. Members of the Smile Kids Japan team are always available to take questions and give advice and will also connect the HCM community across the country to offer further support and ideas. Any questions or problems that you encounter can be directed to Smile Kids Japan immediately.

If you are interested in becoming a Home Communications Manager, please download and complete the form below. Please return the form to anna@smilekidsjapan.org.

Children’s Home Communications Manager (HCM) Application (English) – Word Document (798KB)

Children’s Home Communications Manager (HCM) Application (日本語) – Word Document (12KB)

Our Mission Statement

We are a recently formed small non-profit group. Our aims are to

  • Promote awareness of orphanages across Japan, especially amongst the foreign communities.
  • Encourage these communities to set up regular volunteer visits.
  • Help show these volunteers how this is possible, with hints, tips, and an overview of everything from setting up the first meeting to keeping up volunteer motivation.
  • Ultimately we are aiming for every orphanage in Japan to have a two hour visit once a month.

We started at one orphanage in Fukui Ken and are now setting up regular visits at our third orphanage here, and want to replicate the success we have had here all across Japan. There is nothing to stop every orphanage in Japan having regular visits, and there is nothing to stop you being the one that makes that happen. If you are considering starting then rather than listen to me, please read stories of our volunteers from all over the world here.

Good luck with your volunteering and remember, this is only one model for a visit. There is no single correct way to do volunteer work, and every home will have slightly different needs. We hope only to provide you with one example, one model, something for you to build upon. More than that we hope to provide you with the spark, the idea, and the self belief. We want to show you that you can make an enormous difference to children’s lives while you are here in Japan, children that need more care and affection than most.

Ganbatte Kudasai!

Michael Maher King

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