JETAA UK and Ashinaga launch first joint campaign in 2.6 Challenge

10th May 2020

JETAA UK and Ashinaga launch first joint campaign in 2.6 Challenge

An exciting development for JETAA UK this year is our partnership with the UK branch of Ashinaga – a Japanese charity which has been supporting orphaned and single-parents students for over 50 years, and continues to expand its reach. 

On 26 April, we launched our first event with Ashinaga UK as part of the 2.6 Challenge, a nationwide fundraising campaign to save the UK’s Charities. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on charities, with the cancellation of thousands of events and an estimated loss of £4 billion in funding. The 2.6 Challenge is an industry-wide event to try to address some of that shortfall:

As one of the charities affected by the loss of fundraising income, Ashinaga UK has joined The 2.6 Challenge and reached out to the JETAA community for support. 

This campaign lasts just over one month and Ashinaga is hoping to gather 26 fundraisers to raise £2,600 to offset some of the losses experienced as a result of Covid-19.

While lockdown has meant some lateral thinking has been required, JETAA chapters across the UK have been busy brainstorming and organising events that can take place online, helping members to stay connected with each other and Japan, as well as raise money for a great cause – and give everyone a chance to enjoy themselves!

You can donate on the JETAA UK ‘team’ Just Giving page to support fundraising during the campaign.

The London chapter has already held a well-attended ‘online pub quiz’, where attendees chipped in with donations totalling £186! 

More events are in the pipeline across the country. Please do contact your local chapter for more information on what’s coming up or to share your own ideas.

Other features of the JETAA UK’s campaign with Ashinaga’s include: 

  • 100% of the funds raised during The 2.6 Challenge will go to student costs, and you can specify whether you want to raise money for the Master’s Program or the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (see more below).
  • Further, all money raised for the Ashinaga Africa Initiative will be matched by a partner, meaning that for every pound you raise we receive two pounds, or even more if you are a UK tax-payer and are eligible for gift aid!

There is more information on Ashinaga, including a fundraising pack with tips on fundraising from home, on their website.

Dr Michael Rivera King, who was also a JET from 2006-2011 in Fukui, is one of Ashinaga UK’s directors. He spoke to the national committee in March ahead of JETAA UK and Ashinaga’s decision to partner for the coming year. 

He joined the London online quiz – where it was revealed that several other former JETs had also volunteered as part of Ashinaga programmes in Japan! 

‘I think the connection with JET is great. Most of us have taught in schools where we’ve got students who are a little bit challenging but you know have come from a challenging background,’ Michael said. 

‘The work I was doing with kids in 'orphanages' in Japan, a lot of those kids are the ones causing challenges in school. But with the right opportunities and the right support, these people can go on to do really exceptional things.’ 

What does Ashinaga do?

Historically, Ashinaga’s main work has been helping orphaned students in Japan to reach their potential by providing financial and psycho-social support that enables them to attend secondary and tertiary education. Over half a century, it has supported about 110,000 children.

In 2014, Ashinaga expanded this support to orphaned students in sub-Saharan African countries, enabling them to attend universities around the world, and develop into global-minded compassionate leaders for their communities. 

Ashinaga UK was founded in 2017 to carry out Ashinaga’s work in the UK. It has two programs:

1) The Ashinaga UK Master’s Program, enabling talented orphaned students from Japan to study for a master’s degree in a UK university.

2) The Ashinaga Africa Initiative, enabling selected orphaned students from sub-Saharan African countries to study at UK universities, develop their professional and leadership abilities, and return to the continent to enact meaningful change in their communities.

Ashinaga is a movement for change, rather than just a charity. 93% of its funds come from individual donations: people giving whatever they can to empower others through access to education.

At the heart of Ashinaga’s programmes is the concept of Kokorozashi (志), which it defines as a personal vision to initiate change, innovation, and development for the betterment of others. As a result, the final goal is not the Scholars’ education, but that through education and training its Scholars will be equipped to initiate change, innovation, and development in their communities.

Luke Happle, who has been the subject of a JET Spotlight, is another former JET from the UK now working for Ashinaga. 

Final words

Lastly, we would add that this strange time has affected everyone differently, including financially – there may be people who are furloughed and desperate for something to do whereas others may be hugely busy dealing with the crisis. It is quite possible that the people we view as “genki” under usual circumstances may be flat out whereas the quieter alumni may be keen for human contact.

This initiative is a great opportunity for you to engage with the JET Alumni community, while making a real contribution to society.

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