NAFA Volunteers Bring American Food, Culture to Local Orphanage
A group of Naval Air Facility Atsugi community members recently paid a visit to Misono Children’s home to volunteer at their annual festival.
Nearly 500 guests including children, local elementary and junior high-school teachers and supporters of the orphanage attended the event, which featured several free food booths serving traditional Japanese dishes like yakisoba and yakitori, treats like ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy, and game booths. There were also singing and dance performances from the children.
According to NAF Atsugi Host Nation Relations Office representative Sumie Maruyama, the festival is held to give the children a chance to interact with each other, and to let them experience a little bit of American culture.
“These kids don’t often have a chance to communicate with each other across the different age groups or even communicate with Americans,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to have interaction between the kids, and provide a chance to invite the supporters of [Misono Children’s Home] out to enjoy the festivities.”
The Navy Exchange (NEX), First Class Petty Officers’ Mess (FCPOM), Atsugi Enlisted Spouses Association, Atsugi Officers’ Spouses Association, NAF Atsugi Ombudsman, Fleet and Family Support Center and Supply Warriors donated American food and drinks for the event.
Volunteers from the NEX served cookies and goodie bags full of American snacks and drinks while the First Class Petty Officers’ Mess served more than 300 grilled hamburgers and hot dogs at the festival, which according to Maruyama are always a big hit with the children.
“The last time I visited the children’s home, people seemed very excited to know that there would be American hamburgers at the festival,” she explained. “Hamburgers are always the most popular food at this event.”
NAF Atsugi FCPOM Secretary Information Systems Technician 1st Class Bridgett Broussard enjoyed serving the children and said the event was a great opportunity to fellowship with local Japanese counterparts.
“Something like this is important because we definitely want to build a bond and a unity between Americans and Japanese nationals,” she said.
“It breaks the barrier and helps us all be united.”
Master-at-Arms 1st Class Ardis Finely, a FCPOM member, said he enjoyed taking time out to learn a little about Japanese culture and hopes to participate in next year’s event.
“My favorite part was giving back to the children and learning how to talk to them,” he said.
Maruyama said the event was a successful one, and that the Misono children and staff thanked the volunteers’ for their contributions.
“The Misono staff said they really appreciate our support, not only for the festival but we visit them at least once quarterly,” said Maruyama. “It’s something that the kids don’t get a chance to experience every day. If we can provide a happy and fun atmosphere along with good food then it’s great.”