20 MarThe 2nd World Children’s Hospice Forum in Yokohama

Before COVID-19 started spreading rapidly across the globe, Lyn Gould (CEO) travelled to Japan in mid-February as an invited speaker in the ‘2nd World Children’s Hospice Forum in Yokohama’. Here, she shares her experience:

“It is such a privilege to be able to share the learning we have gained in China with others who are trying to start palliative care services for children in other countries. The latest invitation was to a conference in Yokohama, Japan in mid-February. My first trip to Japan was blessed by lovely clear winter skies with wonderful views of mount Fuji on the way from the airport.

‘The Smile of Children’ was established as a non-profit organisation, with the aim of establishing a children’s hospice in Yokohama, the second in Japan. The first being in Osaka. Mr Hisato Tagawa, founded the organisation in Yokohama following his personal experience of the death of his 6-year old daughter, Haruka, from a brain tumour. Mr Tagawa says “It (a hospice) is not a place of resignation but a “home” for those children and families, a place of comfort, rest, and above all, fun and enjoyment. I believe that making that happen here in Yokohama, would indeed, be the meaning of Haruka’s life”.

This quietly determined man has inspired many others to try and build hospices for children in other Japanese cities e.g. Hokkaido. Mr Tagawa and his colleagues have visited the UK to see the world that these well-developed hospices do and developing supportive relationships with the staff at Francis House in Manchester, who also spoke at the conference.

I was invited to share my experiences of starting the Butterfly Home and how we raise funds to continue the work we are doing. The participants were very interested to hear about crib sponsorship, in particular as one of the main challenges to raising funds in Japan is that it is not acceptable culturally to ask for money directly. Luckily, not an experience we have had in BCH! The next day we experienced some wonderful Japanese food and visited a temple where our Japanese colleagues prayed to the ‘money gods’.

We also got to see the site they have obtained for their building – a beautiful spot by the river and adjacent to a school of nursing. It seems there is much support and goodwill for the project.

I am hopeful that BCH has established an on-going relationship with these lovely and remarkable people to be able to encourage and share experiences as they work towards their goal of opening in 2021. You can read more about this beautiful project here.”

It is particularly important, during these hard times, that we all join together and support each other, whilst maintaining ‘social distance’. A very valuable way you can join with us and directly help the children, is through sponsoring a crib in our home. By sponsoring a crib you are ensuring that the medical, play, nutritional and nursing costs for the particular child in that crib are met for as long as they are needed. Contact info@butterflyhospice.org for more information about crib sponsorship.

 

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