Dear beautiful friends,
It has already passed the first day of Summer as lunar calender, so how are you?
In my home town, Yuasa, it is beautiful to see the fresh greens and flowers,the blue sky, birds chirp and swallows flys around and feed their babies in the nests. And the best thing is full of the smell of orange flowers everywhere!
From 14/4 to 29/4, I was in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, mainly for my social activities,so I would like to report about it including some former situations.
Since September last year, wchich was the time Ms. Sari(my local project partner)left Vietnam,I have continued project with only Vietnamese participants at local.
However, they(Mr. Lam, Ms. Hue and Mrs. Tran) have stoped the monthy meeting and just continued small sewing and embroidery works at home. I also understand they are not close friends each other, so they do not talk on the phone or meet each other often. Besides, everyone has different job to support themselves and their families which keep them busy and no time to meet each other.
Then when I go back there I meet indivisually to ask how they have been doing and provide some chance to earn money by small works depends on how much skills they have.
When I checked the stocks of Furoshiki last September, I was shocked to see the amount!! So the Furoshikis are always in my mind and I feel I have to sell and think about how to sell all the time.
I have tried to increase more shops or cafes letting our products sell, and tried to create new products out of those Furoshikis, like ponchos, aprones, reversible bags etc...
Within this 2 weeks visit, I returned the shops and cafes to ask the owners what types of the products their customers like the most, and exchanged to new products and also received the money. I was glad to see the amount they had sold was more than I expected and I gained confidence what I have tried to convey to people,”Eco+Hand-Made+Fashionable+Useful in daily lives” is gradually accepted there.
Before the visit, I announced 2 workshops. First one, I mainly organized for local Japanese women's association at my french friend's organic shop. I began to talk about how I'd started my social activities and we practiced how to wrap things like bottle of wine or yoga mat by Furoshikis.
Another workshop, my Vietnamese friend, Binh helped me to announce to local Vietnamese people. He sells Japanese potteries at his shop and the participants like Japanese culture. So I started to introduce what “Furoshiki” means and also introduced unique Japanese costumes in daily lives as well. Later on, I spoke about the purpose of my project and the finally showed how to wrap many things by Furoshikis and everyone enjoyed to practice together.
This time, I had a chance to visit the house of Lam. In my experience, having visited many extreme poor families, it was very tidy and clean even though it was one of a small room of mansion. Yet, Binh was shocked to see the area of poverty and I understand his reaction. People living with high standard in Vietnam do not know the reality of poverty and when I share it they cannot believe the fact.
Lam and his mom has high skill to make many products. The last order was using the Furoshikis to create other products; one was reversible bag and the other was a bag for a wine bottle. They were fine, so I paid to their works, and I asked new works which was making a Eco-bag. I showed the sample which has a small bag attached to the Eco-bag, so you can put the bag in and easily carry it in your pocket when you go shopping by walk or bicycle.
A few days later, Lam showed me the Eco-bags and he and his mom did great job! I was very happy to see the quality and it looked very fashionable which is very important point to sell. As soon, I showed some of them to my friend who owns organic shop and thankfully she accepted to sell them there immediately. We agreed to do this as collaboration products and will add her shop logos on them.
At her shop, she has already given another work to Lam that is making newspaper bags by hand. So Lam and her mom continuously can earn extra money by doing it and she said to me every cutomer loves it and I understand as it looks so nice!
At the meeting with Lam's mom, she saw my dress which was the pattern of patch-working, then she said she can also make like that. Then I asked her to try it and also another long skirt which is always received good compliment. Actually, it was too difficult for her to make the dress, so I gave Lam another simple pattern which my mother had made out of Kimono fabrics.
One day before I left there, Lam came and showed the works how he had made the dress out of the Furoshiki and also skirt used left over fabrics at his home. Wow! I was sooo surprised how beautiful they were! Of course every work was done by hands!! I could not stop smiling and telling him I was so happy, which made him also big smile( : so both of us were so happy that moment. Because of impressed works, I asked new works like another skirt, dress,simple summer cloth and no sleeve. I have a confidence that many women like the dress and skirt and they want to buy them. It is just so precious to see all the stitches made by hands, so I wish many people can see them and chose to buy meaningful products to wear.
In Ho Chi Minh city, the constructions are going on everywhere every time. And people are busy to spend time and energy for making businesses more and more and earning money more and more. Honestly, I felt tired with the reality there.
Nevertheless, when my friend called Lam to ask about certain work, he replayed “I only accept the works from Maiko. “ which made her surprised as it is quite rare to happen in Vietnam and she gave positive compliment about his royalty. I was also pleased to hear as I can see he trusts and respects me.
Many people choose raising money ,making successful business and being famous the most which sometimes makes me sad... yet, when I know about Lam's decision, I was moved as he understands what is more important than only making money even though his life has been very difficult. I remember, I often spoke at the project meetings,”of course we need money but as long as we are doing good things generously, money will come even it takes time.”
Lam is the person whose works are always well done, and always comes on time and sometimes gives me a present. Over all, I've learned a lot from him and deeply respect him as who he is.
To be well known what I have done by people, and living in competitive capital city is not my way of living, and I realized that I feel enough when I can share my life with person (s) like Lam and hold “ what is really important to me” in my heart.
When I had meeting with Ms. Hue, she explained sadly to me that the table mats with the embroideries has not been sold well at the Opera house. Thus, she can only give the small work of making coasters to the poor in her village. Actually at the Opera House and some shops, the coasters were sold better as they are more popular to use everywhere and cheap to buy. I also bought coasters as much as she had to sell in Japan. Personally I really like the embroideries showing Vietnamese daily lives or peculiar scenic. They are very beautiful and I want to maintain their hand works as sadly many embroidery works has been done by machines nowadays.
The other day, I met Mrs. Tran, and as soon as I saw her I could tell she got injuries badly! And she told me about the bike accident. Because I also had the experience before, I felt so pain to see her like that.(><) The safety in Vietnam is getting worse and worse. She drove slowly but the bike coming from behind with 2 men and she fall down on the street, which trick was typical as well as my case when they want to steal s.t.
Unbelievably, my friend told me recently it has been happened children have been kidnapped for the purpose of being sold their inner organs.
Of course many of us take care of ourselves carefully to live there, but unfortunately we cannot avoid unexpected situations. I sometimes feel it is miracle to be able to be here.
Mrs. Tran has tried to help an elder woman who cannot walk but as the embroidery products hasn't been sold well, she cannot support her through our project for now. Before saying good-bye to her I handed a little amount of money to her and the old lady with deep compassionate and hope from my heart.
Because of big cerebration for 30/4, which is the date of remembrance of victory of the war in Vietnam, many police forces blocked the streets to prepare the parade. There were also youths who are following the Socialism marched on the street strongly which was scared to me.
This year, it is the 70th year in Japan after the war ended and 40th in Vietnam. Both nations have tried to reach the western standard and focused on development of economy and technology. As the result, many Japanese and Vietnamese people satisfied to gain material needs, on the other hands they lack of the richness in hearts, and the gap between poor and rich is severe common issue now.
I really think this is the time, we need to stop and think,”what is very important for us to be human beings?” and I hope little by little there will be a person who can make the action . I pray for the change of our society getting better as “snail's pace” and the most I pray for the everyone's peace of mind and world peace.
The last, although I always mention this,;till now I have continued my social activities is because there have been priceless supports from my family and lots of friends. Without them, I could have even not here. I deeply and truly appreciate their help and encouragement for me.
I am still learning everyday so that please forgive me when I make some negative speech or action which make you uncomfortable, but I keep making my effort and I would be very happy to see lots of smiles around the world( :