Extending a Helping Hand

by Maruya Masato, pastor

Ofunato Church, Iwate, Ou District

 

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did to me.” (Matt. 25:40, NRSV)

 

Dear loving friends! I want to thank you from the depths of my heart for your prayers and support related to the Great East Japan Disaster. Ofunato Church is situated on high ground, so it was only slightly damaged, but the harm to church members has been enormous. The homes of five persons were washed away, and the tsunami caused the death of one family. One is brain-dead. In several other homes, family members were lost. In the midst of these tragedies, the church is wrestling with various matters.

 

Of utmost concern was the distribution of relief materials. In addition, we have distributed a total of 7,000 Bibles published by the Gideons. Some of the persons who received Bibles are attending worship services and prayer meetings. Meanwhile, we opened places for relief volunteers to stay. Several are attending church for the first time. Since coming in contact with Christianity, some are attending churches in their home areas. The fact that this has become an opportunity for them to connect with churches is a source of great joy.

We are also going to the temporary housing area. While drinking tea with people living in temporary housing units, we talk with them about various things. As three years have passed since the disaster, almost all the volunteer groups have withdrawn. But for those of us who live here, I think the most important time is ahead. Especially since the number of volunteers has decreased, visitors will be happily welcomed to engage in ongoing conversations. What I often hear is the question, “Why do you visit the temporary housing area?” It is not because someone in authority has commanded us to visit. I feel it is something born of necessity, and honestly, I cannot answer the question well. I do not even have a particular desire to be supportive. I am not trying to take advantage of the situation, nor am I seeking to extend my influence.

 

Sometimes I am tired and have doubts. But even then, there are persons in need of help, so there is a place for the church to extend a helping hand, even though it may be modest. It will be a blessing if I can share their pain and give off the fragrance of Christ. (Tr. RT)

『はっきり言っ ておく。わたしの兄弟であるこの最も小さい者の一人にしたのは、わたしにしてくれたことなのである。』(マタイ25・40)

親愛なる皆様。東日 本大震災のためにお祈りとご支援をいただき心より感謝を致します。

大船渡教会は高台 にあり被害は軽微ですが、教会員の被害は甚大です。5人が家屋流失、1家族が津波で死亡。脳死の者もいます。他にも家族を失った者が何名 もいます。そのような中で教会は様々なことに取り組みました。

まず救援物資の配布 です。7,000冊のギデオン聖書もあわせて配りました。その中から礼拝や祈祷会 に出席している者もいます。

同時にボランティア の宿泊場所にも開放しました。その中には初めて教会に来た者もいます。キリスト教に触れ、地元の教会に出席している者もいます。教会につ ながるきっかけになったことは大きな喜びです。

また仮設住宅に出掛 けます。仮設で住人とお茶を飲みながら、様々な話をします。震災から3年も過ぎるとほとんどのボランティア団体は撤退していきます。しか し現地にいるとここからが大事な時期に入るのではと思います。時間の経過ともにできる話、ボランティアが減少したからこそ、訪問してくだ さることが嬉しいのです。

よく聞かれるのは 「どうして、仮設を訪問するのか」という質問です。上からの命令ではありません。必要に迫られてという気はしますが、正直上手く答えられ ません。特に支援をしているつもりもありません。これに便乗して教勢拡大を目指しているわけでもありません。時には疲れや疑問も感じま す。それでも助けを必要としている人がおり、少しではあっても手を差し伸べられる位置に教会はあります。

痛み を共有し、キリストの香りを多くの人々に放つことができれば幸いです。大船渡 教会 牧師 村谷正人

 

Fukushima Shinmachi Church Restoration After the 2011 Disaster

by Takiyama Katsuko, pastor

Fukushima Shinmachi Church, Tohoku District

 

Fukushima Shinmachi Church was badly damaged during the Great East Japan Disaster. Our church was planned and built in 1928 by the architect William Merrell Vories, who had come to Japan. At the time of the 2011 disaster, the structure was 84 years old. Roof tiles fell off the sanctuary; the cross on the third-floor steeple tilted; and cracks were visible in the two chimneys. Within the sanctuary, the four corners of the whitewashed walls collapsed; and here and there, cracks in the walls appeared like bolts of lightning. As might be expected, we were anxious about the safety of the sanctuary.

 

Following the earthquake, a nearby church soon had to be torn down. One month after the quake, an inspection carried out by the Fukushima City Disaster Relief Headquarters showed that the building was in immediate danger of collapse. Even so, we felt that an accurate assessment needed to be made. When the Shinkansen (high-speed train) was finally operating again, we had persons come from the Vories Architectural Office, and their assessment was completed by the end of April.

 

We spent many sleepless nights for about a month following the disaster, wondering whether or not the sanctuary could be repaired. Finally, having received the analysis that repair was possible, the congregation and the Building Committee met over 15 times, and the building was made earthquake-resistant by reinforcing the walls, the foundation, and the roof. The work was completed in 13 months, and a Service of Gratitude for Restoration of the Sanctuary and a Thanksgiving Celebration were held on Nov. 25, 2012.

 

In December 2013, we were all finally able to have a relaxed Christmas Worship Service and held a potluck dinner to celebrate. The sanctuary built 86 years ago has been restored almost completely to its original state. However, the two chimneys were taken down, and the large red roofing tiles were removed and replaced with strong, earthquake-resistant, copper plates. Although at one time we had determined that demolition could not be avoided, our Lord has enabled us to restore the sanctuary built 86 years ago and to make it stronger than before!

 

All the believers in the church give heartfelt thanks for the Lord’s help, for the assistance of the Kyodan and the district, and for the prayers and aid offered by persons throughout the country that have brought about this restoration. “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” (Psalm 146:1-2)

 

We give praise to God for the restoration of the sanctuary, which continues to fulfill its purpose as a place for hymns and prayer. We hope it will be used for the spreading of the gospel and for the salvation of many people. In addition, please remember to pray for the evangelization of those who remain in Fukushima, despite their worries about the radiation levels. Please pray for them now and in the future. (Tr. RT)

International Conference on the East Japan Disaster Held in Sendai

From March 11 to 14, I had the privilege of attending the International Conference on the East Japan Disaster hosted by the Kyodan at Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai. My role was primarily to translate various documents into English prior to the conference and then to help with the simultaneous translation during the conference.

 

Being the first such international conference the Kyodan has ever sponsored, the staff had to deal with many issues that were “out of their comfort zone,” so to speak. While there were a few minor glitches here and there, overall the conference went very well, and the participants expressed their heartfelt thanks for being able to be a part of it.

 

The main conference itself focused on presentations related to nuclear power and radiation issues. If the Richter scale 9.0-level (level 7 on the Japanese scale, with level 7 being the most severe) earthquake had been the only disaster, the remaining scars would probably not be very evident three years later, and indeed, I did not see anything in the part of Sendai where we were that gave any indication of such an occurrence. But the tsunami generated by the earthquake devastated the coastline, which not only killed thousands of people and destroyed the homes and businesses of many more but also set off the chain of events that led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors, polluting the neighboring areas and beyond with radioactive contamination. There is still significant danger of further catastrophic contamination as workers struggle to secure the stored fuel rods and contain the ongoing contamination from the destroyed reactors. People even relatively far from the immediate disaster zones are being severely affected by the radiation that has already been released and are living in fear of what might still happen if another strong earthquake or procedural mistake happens.

 

The conference began at 2 p.m. on March 11 with a memorial service in the chapel of Tohoku Gakuin University. This was open to the public and attended by about 500 people. The service consisted of a sermon by Takahashi Kazuto, pastor of Sendai Higashi Rokubancho Church, and a prayer litany by the moderators of the three heavily affected districts, along with special music. I wondered if there would be a pause for a moment of silence at the 2:46 mark, when people all over the region would be observing a minute of silent prayer for the victims, but that would have entailed pausing in the middle of the sermon and so was not done. Nevertheless, it was a moving experience and an appropriate beginning to this conference.

Following the worship service, there was a “commemorative lecture” by Dr. Kang, Sang-Jung, a professor at Seigakuin University, entitled “Beyond the ‘System’ of Sacrifice—Minamata, Hiroshima, and Fukushima.” As the title suggests, Dr. Kang focused on the common thread of industrial and nationalistic greed by the powerful that results in the sacrifice of the wellbeing of the common people.

 

Of the 234 registered participants and staff, 44 were from overseas, with the largest contingents being from Taiwan and Korea. Other countries represented were Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Tahiti, and India. In addition to English, simultaneous translation was also provided in Chinese and Korean. Presentations by foreign guests were done in English, with translations into Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

 

The two-and-a-half days of the actual conference were filled with lectures and discussions surrounding the effects of radioactive contamination resulting from the reactor meltdowns and the inherent dangers of continuing to operate nuclear power generation facilities. Needless to say, there were no nuclear power advocates downplaying the dangers and extolling the benefits of “cheap” nuclear power. I used to count myself as more or less in that camp, but if Chernobyl gave me initial pause, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster finished the job of changing my mind, along with the minds of a large number of other people.

 

I was also part of the team working on the resolution statement to be released by the Kyodan as the consensus of the conference. We worked late into the night to incorporate the input from various members of the committee, which was representative of the Japanese and international participants, and then at the final session on Friday morning, after a bit more fine-tuning, the resolution was unanimously adopted. Some minor adjustments to wording remain to be done before the final Japanese and English versions are released in April.

 

Following the conference, most of the overseas participants joined in a bus tour to the devastated coastal cities of Onagawa and Ishinomaki on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. We visited an elementary school where almost all the children and teachers perished in the tsunami, in spite of being right next to a hillside that could have saved them if they had only known that such a huge tsunami was coming. We also took a tour of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, which unlike Fukushima Daiichi, was able to survive the tsunami by having just enough power to shut down safely and avoid a meltdown. It was quite interesting to listen to the “other side” and see the impressive displays on how electricity is generated. It all looked attractively “safe,” but we knew better.

 

The last stop prior to lunch and our return to Sendai was in the Kadowaki district of Ishinomaki, which had been completely devastated. One lone steel frame of a building remained one street beyond where the bus was stopped, and within it stood a small prefab building. The owner greeted me as I walked by and invited me in when he discovered that I speak Japanese. As the bus was almost ready to leave, I did not have time to hear much of his story, but he gave me a copy of a newspaper article relating that all the residents thought no tsunami could reach that far inland and had no warning until the giant wall of water came crashing in. He somehow managed to climb up on a floating roof, but his wife was gone, along with everything he owned. He had restarted his restaurant in a van, and I was deeply impressed by his resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

 

It was a sobering experience indeed to see the devastation and hear the testimonies of those who lived through it and continue to face ongoing challenges. Yet, we came away inspired not only to help those who remain rebuild their lives but also to protect the lives of future generations from the unacceptable risks of the continued use of nuclear energy.

—Timothy Boyle, United Methodist Missionary

Kwansei Gakuin University

KNL Editorial Committee member

 

Life as a Businessperson: The Struggle Itself is a Christian’s Witness

by Tomita Koyo, advertisement agency employee

Reinanzaka Church member, Tokyo District

 

The beginning of a week for company employees is on Mondays! At Sunday worship everyone, including myself, very naturally offers a prayer indicating that “Today is the start of a new week.” But is Sunday really the start of a new week? Without exception, the new week for businesspersons begins on Monday.

 

I work for an advertising agency. Although most people seem to have images of persons at work in banks and factories, few have images of what is done in advertisement agencies. As a result, I am often asked what an advertising agency does. In other words, it is an area of employment that very few people understand.

 

Actually, much of our work is difficult to describe, and since there is a need for content security as well, there are some things that we are not allowed to explain. However, our company helps in all areas of our clients’ needs, including marketing, sales management, and communication of related information. In the midst of that, our job is to be on the front line, consulting with our clients.

 

In the world of mass communication and advertisement, there are unique relationships, social/entertainment commitments, and overtime work, where consideration of the client comes first. To be honest, I feel that a distinct line can be drawn between this world and the world that I know at church among our calm and kind members. Even if it were known at my workplace that I am a Christian, I get the feeling that the other employees do not believe it. Even more so, the fact that I am a Sunday School teacher would be considered a joke.

 

Advise from a Former Pastor

 

Although I went to a neighborhood church as a child, it was more for play than anything else. It was at a time when I thought the offering at church was little more than the change that people offered at shrines and temples. However, I continued to attend church and was eventually baptized.

 

As I continued attending church, a former pastor of my church, Kobashi Koichi, said something to me that was especially meaningful. Just before I was baptized, he said, “Even if there’s something you don’t like, or something that seems bothersome, continue to come to church because God has chosen you.”

 

To be honest, difficulty continues to be a part of my everyday work. There are days when lack of sleep is a real drain on my energy level, and I often feel considerable stress. In my position, I must lead those under me, and as a project team leader, I must manage our work. In other words, I am in mid-management. At entertainment and social engagements, I must also play out the role of a businessperson of former times (when Japanese businessmen were entirely devoted to their companies).

 

Conversation with God takes place on the train as I commute to and from work. Even so, I continue to attend church. I am a poor Christian. I do not adequately read the Bible. Although there have been times when I have continued to read it for a few weeks, I have never continued longer than that. Rather, I simply offer daily prayers. The wonderful thing is that I have realized there is no need for a special place or time for dialogue with God in prayer.

 

The location for my morning prayers is inside the subway. On Monday mornings, I give thanks for the passing days and for new business opportunities. The truth of the matter is that as I pray during my commute, I am able to bring calm and order to my mind and soul through this dialogue with God.

 

Continued Personal Reflection in Daily Life

 

Whatever else is said, I am a mere businessperson—an ordinary person. I get angry when someone takes a superior attitude toward me and complain when I struggle. When I remember my faith at times like these, I ask myself, “Is this all right?” But then I answer, “It’s okay. This is who I am and how I live. Indeed, this is the life God has given me.”

 

My week of such varied concerns continues from Monday, and then I head to church on Sunday. At church, I interact with the Sunday school children and offer prayer at worship. It is here that I receive the nourishment I need for the following week as a businessperson. Daily there are difficulties, distress, and disappointment, and I certainly cannot say that I have not deceived myself. However, I feel this is true for most Christian businesspersons.

 

As I sing hymns and offer prayers during worship, I am given renewed courage, while at the same time, I struggle with my weakness. I am convinced that my struggles and my continued worship at church are the realities and the witness of a Christian. The question of whether I am fully responding to the grace and hope of God’s guidance is one I continue to ask myself, but I believe that this struggle itself is my witness as a Christian. (Tr. JS)

 

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend) January 2014 Isuue

ビジネスパーソンとして生きる

 

悩むことこそキリスト者の証し

 

富田晃庸

とみた こうよう/広告会社勤務、東京・霊南坂教会員

 

 

サラリーマンの

一週間の始まりは月曜日!

毎週日曜日の礼拝。自分も含め、皆が当たり前のように祈りを捧げ ます。「今日から始まる新しい一週間」と。新しい一週間の始まりは日曜日からなのか? サラリーマンの一週間の始まり、それはまぎれ もなく月曜日からです。

私は広告会社の営業をしています。銀行やメーカーといった誰もが イメージできる業種と違い、広告会社とはいったい何をやっている会社なのかと聞かれることがあります。つまり、一般的に仕事の内容が 知られている業種ではないのです。

事実、なかなか表現しづらく、守秘義務もあるので十分説明ができ ないのですが、クライアント(顧客)のマーケティング・コミュニケーション活動(情報伝達を含めた販売活動)のすべてをお手伝いする のが私の会社の仕事です。その中で、営業とは顧客と最前線で対峙する人間であり、フロントマンと言っていいと思います。

マスコミ・広告業界特有の付き合い、宴席、深夜まで続く業務、ク ライアントを第一義的に優先するための気配り……。正直、日曜日の教会に多くいらっしゃる心穏やかな諸先輩方とは一線を画す、なかな か教会にいないタイプの人間ではと思っています。逆に会社でも、私がクリスチャンであることは知られていても、信じられていないので はないかと思います。ましてや教会学校の教師をしているなど、相手には冗談にしか思ってもらえないような世界なのです。

 

恩師の一言

幼いころには近所の教会に遊び半分に通っていました。当時は献金 などお賽銭くらいにしか思っていなかった悪ガキ時代です。しかしその後も教会に通い続け、やがて受洗しました。

教会に通う支えとなっている言葉があります。かつて主任牧師で あった小橋孝一先生は、受洗の前に私へ鮮烈な一言を授けてくれました。内容は簡単。「嫌なことがあっても、面倒くさくなっても、とに かく教会に来なさい。なぜなら、神さまがあなたを選んだのだから」でした。

日々の業務は、正直苦しいことばかりです。睡眠不足から体力的に も厳しいときがありますし、相当なストレスも感じます。立場上、後輩を指導したり、プロジェクトチームのリーダーとして組織を運営し なければなりません。要は中間管理職です。宴席では昭和型のサラリーマンを演じることもしなければなりません。

 

通勤電車が神さまとの

対話の場

それでも私は教会に通っています。

不良クリスチャンです。聖書通読もろくにできていません。何度か トライして数週間は続いたことがありました。でも長続きしなかったのです。ただ、お祈りは毎日捧げています。むしろ、神さまとの対話 の唯一の手段であるお祈りが、場所や時間を選ばないことに気が付いたことはすばらしいことでした。

私の毎朝のお祈りの場所は、もっぱら(都営)地下鉄(大江戸線) の車内です。月曜日朝、過ぎし日々に感謝をし、新しい仕事の歩みに感謝をします。実は、毎朝出勤途中にこのお祈りを捧げると、神さま と対話を通して自らの心の整理が図れるのです。

 

自問自答しつつ

日々を生きる

それでも、私は一介のサラリーマンであり、平凡な人間です。相手 に横柄な態度を取られれば腹も立ちますし、悩んだときには愚痴も出ます。そしてそのようなときに、自分がクリスチャンであることに気 が付き、こう自問するのです。「おまえはそれでいいのか」、と。そして自答するのです。「いいのだ。自分はこうい人間としてここで生 きている。これこそ神さまが私に与えてくださった生き方だ」、と。

私の月曜日からの一週間は、そんな言い訳がましい悩みがウイーク デーにわたって続き、そして日曜日に教会へと向かうのです。教会では教会学校の子どもたちと接し、礼拝で祈りを捧げます。翌日から始 まるサラリーマン生活の糧をいただくためです。

日々、悩み、苦しみ、落ち込むことも多々あり、自分に嘘をついた ことがないとはとても言えない私です。でも、サラリーマンのクリスチャンは、ほぼ、皆同じではないでしょうか。

礼拝を守り、賛美歌を歌い、祈りを捧げ、そのたびに私は勇気づけ られ、そして自分の弱さに悩み苦しみます。しかしながら、悩み続けること、そのたびに教会へと足を運ぶこと、この永遠に続く繰り返し こそキリスト者の証しであると勝手にとらえているのです。

神から与えられている恵みや希望という導きに応えられているのかと自問自答する、キリスト者としての自分がいます。しかし、この悩ましさ こそ、キリスト者の証しなのだと信じているのです。 (信徒の友2014年1月号より)

 

Nurturing People in India’s Rural Areas

Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. Love one another warmly as Christian brothers, and be eager to show respect for one another. Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. (Romans: 12: 9-11)

by Dr. Miura Teruo, Dean and Kyodan missionary

Makino School of Continuing and Non-Formal Education (MSCNE)

Sam Higgingbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology & Sciences

Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh State, India

 

I have been working at the Makino School of Continuing and Non-Formal Education (MSCNE) of the Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology & Sciences in Allahabad District, Uttar Pradesh State, India since April 2004. The institute was established 104 years ago by the Reverend Dr. Sam Higginbottom, a Presbyterian Church in USA missionary. In 1997, the Makino School was set up on the institute campus by Dr. Makino Kazuho, a Japanese missionary from the Kyodan, as a part of the institute’s Faculty of Agriculture. The school is designed to focus on practical education and training according to real-life situations and training for rural workers at a grass-roots level. Hence, admission to the school is not limited by one’s educational level but only by one’s passion and dedication to work with people.

 

The school aims to provide non-formal education and training on the basis of God’s love and the Christian spirit to rural people and also to assist in development efforts for improvement of the quality of rural life. For the past decade, MSCNE has focused on nurturing both men and women in rural areas and on implementing rural development activities towards self-reliance.

 

The following are concrete activities that have been implemented in the past year:

1. Special Course in Sustainable Agriculture for Rural Leaders

Every year, the course begins in early July and finishes in early April of the following year. Students are mostly sent by churches and NGOs and, after the completion, they are supposed to return to their places of work or their own communities to work among them at a grass-roots level. The course stresses organic farming, providing skills and basic concepts of farming and food production, food processing, and marketing. At present, more than 300 graduates are scattered all over India, Myanmar, and Japan. Almost all the students had sending bodies that are NGOs or Christian church organizations, but some come on their own. This school year, students studied a series of lessons on sustainable agriculture, which includes organic ways of agricultural production, food processing, and alternative marketing. Since three years ago, the course has achieved a more international atmosphere as more students from Myanmar and Japan have entered. It seems to generate more cross-cultural understanding among students and staff members, broadening their views of culture, religions, justice, and peace.

2. Assistance to Allahabad Agriculture Cooperative

MSCNE assisted in improving production of Japanese rice and Japanese seasonings (e.g., miso and soy sauce), aiming to facilitate financial self-management of cooperatives and to improve income-generation for individual farmers. Those products have sold very well at a much higher price, compared to other rice; 53 cooperative farmers took part in the Japanese rice-growing project. The rice has been sold all over India, especially to Japanese restaurants and Japanese residents in India, even extending to Korean and American communities. While the cooperative society has gotten a much stronger capacity to manage its own operation, it is still necessary for them to get more advice and technical assistance, such as on improving customer care, quality control, efficiency in food processing, development of markets.

 

3. Assistance to the Asha School

MSCNE provided assistance and guidance to three private schools, called the “Asha School,” which were initially established by MSCNE. At present, 650 children from kindergarten to grade 10 are enrolled in the three schools. Almost all the students are from marginalized families whose social status has been kept low because they are seasonal farm laborers, simple laborers, or deprived, low-caste people facing persistent caste discrimination. Until two years ago, the schools were led by MSCNE, but nowadays, representatives chosen from among the teachers are able to operate the schools with much confidence, having organized their own educational society, called the Asha Smile Shiksha Society.” (Shiksha means “education” in Hindi.) Now, MSCNE provides special training programs for new teachers, educational camps for female students, and partial scholarship for school children. Moreover, the schools, teachers, and students were strongly encouraged by the schools to obtain financial assistance from Presbyterian Church U.S.A. churches, Japanese volunteers, NGOs, and individuals. Their donations were used for improvement of school buildings and facilities (e.g., toilets, hand pumps, and roof repairing, et cetera).

「農村の人づくり」

三浦 照男(日本キリスト教団宣教師)

サム・ヒギンボトム農工科学大学継続教育学部学部長

(インド・ウッタルプラデシュ州アラハバード県)

私が2004年4月より学部長として働いている継続 教育学部(通称マキノスクール)はインド・ウッ タルプラデシュ州アラハバード県にある104年の歴史を持つサ ム・ヒギン ボトム農工科学大学内にある、ノンフォーマルな生涯教育を行う学部です。当学部はキリスト教の精神に基づきながら、農村住民が自立するための人材育成、および農 村開発事業を行っています。過去30年に、約300名の卒業生がインド各地にまたネパール、ミャンマー、日本に散在し、活躍していま す。その他にも、アラハバード県の農村を中心にした持続可能な農業普及、有機農業組合、貧困家庭 の子どもの教育、女性の地位向上、母子保健、収入向上などの活動支援などを行っています。

具体的な活動は以下の通りです。

1.有機農法を軸にした持続可能な農業・農村開発研 修を7月から翌年4月まで毎年行っています。学生は主に教会、NGOから送り出された農村草の根ワーカーです。かれらは 有機農法による生産から加工・販売に至るまで学び、コース終了後送り出し団体に帰り、草の根リーダーとして働きます。5年前から毎年 ミャンマー、3年前より日本からもコースに入学する若者も増え、より国際的な研修の場になっています。

2.小規模農家の収入向 上、有機農業普及、生産者組合運動の促進を目的に、日本米栽培、日本の調味料(味噌・醤油)生産販売を重点的に行ってきました。2013年度には、その成果が顕著にみられるようになりまし た。日本米栽培は現在、53名の組合栽培農家が中心になって行っています。インド全土に散在する日本人、日本食レストラ ンを中心に販売されていますが、徐々に韓国人、西洋人にも販売網が拡大されています。組合が得た収益で、組合の自立運営が可能になっ ています。しかし、消費者からのクレームの処理、品質管理、作業の合理化、販売路の確保等、継続教育学部の助言・技術指導が必要な状 況です。

3.貧困家庭、特に低位 カーストの初等教育事業は現在アーシャ学校3校の支援を行っています。現在、幼稚園から10年生までの児童生徒約650

がアーシャ学校で学んで います。2年前までは継続教育学部が学校の運営を主導していましたが、昨年度から3校の教師陣により自立的な運営ができるようになって います。更に継続教育学部は米国長老派教会、日本の教会および、日本のNGO及びデリーに在住する日本人ボランティアの協力を得 て、貧困家庭の子どもへの奨学金付与、学校の修理・拡張工事の支援、教諭のトレーニング、生徒の特別学級・教育キャンプ(女子生徒の ための思春期教育)等の支援、指導も行っています。

4.継続教育学部によっ て設立されたアーシャ農民学校での裁縫教室は3年目になります。農村女性が手に職をつけ、経済活動をすることは女性の地位向上に寄与すると 考えているからです。現在、3か村で6か月コースの基礎裁縫クラスを開催しています。教師は5年以上かけて教育学部が育てた農村女性達です。年間60名近い女性が裁縫の基礎技術を学んでいます。また、 優秀な卒業生にはアーシャ学校の制服を作る機会を与え、その謝礼として足踏みミシンを供与しています。裁縫教室は村で定着しており、 多くの農村女性が待機している状況です。

5.母子保健事業は、保 健師・助産師である妻が農村女性を保健ボランティアとして活動できるように技術指導、助言活動をしています。現在、アラハバード県内 の2つの郡(人口約38万人)で、35名のボランティアが育成され、ボランティアが政府機 関保健ワーカーと協働することによる母子保健事業が展開されています。この事業は農村住民の保健の向上のみならず、農村女性の社会的 地位の向上、女性の能力開発という意味においても意義ある活動と考えています。

インドに赴任して、10年が過ぎようとしています。農村の「人づくり

のために多くの方々の祈りとご支援祈を得て仕事をできていること心より感謝しています。引 き続きお祈りご支援をお願いします。