The time for the ﬁrst group of girls going to Junior High School has arrived.
This means that it is been more than 10 years since conceiving the idea of accepting girls at La Salle Home (LS Home). One of the main reasons for accepting girls was to offer the same place for those with siblings, which until that moment needed to be separated because of the lack of infrastructure. Of course after being more than 45 years as an all boys Institution, it will bring a new whole set of challenges that require open minds and a lot of training to respond adequately to this new reality.
Another big challenge is the new orientation for Children Welfare Policies in Japan. There is an emphasis on the “Role of Fosters Parents” as a ﬁrst option and “Small Groups Care” (depending from the existent institutions) to provide a family centered lifestyle for the children in the welfare system. New big institutions will not be approved. The existing institutions will have to decrease its numbers to a maximum of 45 children.
LS Home has a capacity for 80 children. This process of giving family oriented and individual care (already in practice in LS Home) required by the Japanese Government to put it in practice is 15 years. At the moment LS Home has one main building with 8 apartments and a big room for 16 little kids (2 to 6 years old). Each apartment hosts 8 kids, so from primary education to tertiary education we have 64 children. In the near future (15 years) LS Home will have to decrease by 35 children in its main housing building although the limit will be still 80. These 35 children will be allocated in groups of 6 in 6 houses in the neighborhood. These small groups will be also La Salle Home and the staff will be provided by La Salle Home as well.
With the ever increasing cost to provide care for the aging Japanese society, will the Government have enough funds to support this new way of doing children welfare? After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, accommodation for residents and refugees, especially from nuclear accident in Fukushima, is not that easy, there is lack of housing in Sendai. Will it be possible to ﬁnd 6 houses in the neighborhood? Because these small groups by themselves are like independent institutions, will these Institutions have enough qualiﬁed personnel to attend to these new small groups? These are some of the questions that come to mind. I think that the objective of giving a more family oriented service to these children centers it is worth give it a chance.
Our Work as Brothers in La Salle Home:
Br. Ohtomo: With his 89 springs, for the kids, he is the grandfather of the Brothers’ Community. His presence in some moments in the Institution is a sign of a live dedicated to education for the staff.
Br. Rodrigo: He has many facets in LS Home. First of all, he is the principal of the Institution. He has a weekly prayer session with the kids and it is another very important aspect of the education of our children.
Br. Antonio: (I’m sorry to write a lot about me) For me one of the most important roles in my work at La Salle Home is being present. Being physically present where our kids are. Of course my presence is almost instantly felt with my 100 “plus-alpha” KG. (“Plus-alpha” is a very much used expression in Japan, especially if you do not want to say something exactly.)
The whole year we have kids at La Salle Home. During schools holidays, to change the atmosphere of the daily life, particularly with the hectic schedule of the school year; we program leisure activities in which the kids can decide freely to participate on it or not.
I would say that one of our duties that we have with these kids is to raise them in a way that can become responsible citizens. We have to be mediators with them in respecting their own decisions but also mediators with their parents, even though many neglect their education, they have the right also to be involved in the decision of their son or daughter about their future.
These are some thoughts about La Salle Home. It is a concrete way of doing something for the needy in Japan as LEAD. The challenge is that everything is in Japanese. (
Br. Antonio Cubillas – LEAD Story 92