• July 5, 2016

Becoming a Big Family Circle

by Heidi Ng - Singporian vol­un­teer in Japan

Our house is next to a kinder­garten, so we often have met mothers who travel to and fro to this kinder­garten. In the early morn­ings and at 2pm, you will hear the ener­getic whoops from the chil­dren, the tin­kling laughter and con­ver­sa­tions the mothers have amongst them­selves. We have formed friend­ships with many of these mothers. Mainly, Midori-san, Yuka-san, Oogawa-san.

Each of these mothers has their own sto­ries, their own hard­ships. Husbands who have to be busy earning a living, trav­eling to and fro. Midori and Oogawa-san are part of what the Japanese term as “tenkin zoku”. Families that move around a lot. Many workers in Japan often have to be trans­ferred from one area to another for work. These trans­fers can be any­where from a year to five, or even more. Very often, in order to spare their chil­dren this con­stant hassle of having to uproot their lives and start all over again every five years, the fathers may choose to go alone and leave the family behind. It has broken up many fam­i­lies this way.

One day, I had the inspi­ra­tion of having a mother’s outing, where I will invite all my dif­ferent mother friends to have lunch at a cafe and then explore the city of Sendai. We had pizza, and Taiyaki, a Sendai spe­cialty dessert of a fish-shape pan­cake with a sweet filling inside. It is abso­lutely addic­tive, crispy and creamy. After that we went to a very tall building to have a bird’s eye view of Sendai. It was very tiring trying to keep an eye on one child, let alone three. “Don’t run, be careful of cars, wait for us! Yes we are get­ting there soon, Yes you can do that, no please don’t climb that, please share the Doraemon toy, where is Souta!! Oh no I lost Seta!!” Mothers, they have it really tough.

During the outing, each of the moms man­aged to squeeze in some con­ver­sa­tions in between feeding their chil­dren and chasing after them. Midori-san had never been to Central Sendai and for her it was very fun to observe the sights with her chil­dren together with us.

Actually, we encoun­tered Midori-san by acci­dent one day, when she was trav­eling to the kinder­garten and Bernie struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with her and invited her to our house. Ever since then, Midori and her chil­dren have been fre­quent vis­i­tors, and friends whose pres­ence we can count on when­ever we hold gath­er­ings. The first time she came to our house for a party, she said it was the first time she had been invited to one, ever since she moved to Sendai. In a way, we are her first friends.

Heart’s Home has been holding quite a few par­ties recently, birthday cel­e­bra­tions, Christmas par­ties, Chinese New Year par­ties (because I am Chinese and we try to have any excuse to have food and gath­er­ings), Sakura par­ties and others. All these events are oppor­tu­ni­ties for our friends to gather together, get to know each other and be included in our big family circle.

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