Many people are shocked by the devastating situation in Ukraine. Joan Mitchell van der Vliet, the spouse of Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands and Jessica Hashimoto, Cellist from NY were among those who felt the same and wanted to help.
These two expats, spoke to their Japanese friend Hiroko M. Ohiwa, a member of Chiyoda Kiwanis Club, and mentioned they wanted to do something for Ukraine, even if it was something small. They were delighted to hear that Ms. Ohiwa fully supported them.
Ms Ohiwa asked the Chiyoda Kiwanis Club for help and introduced Mrs. van der Vliet and Mrs. Hashimoto to Toshiko Sawai, President and Takako Tokugawa, Deputy President of Chiyoda Kiwanis Club.
In order to use the power of music, they contacted Koichi Iriyama, chairman of the Japanese Classical Music Competition. With the support of Mr. Iriyama, popular cellist Haruma Sato, accompanied by the pianist Keita Obushi, performed a beautiful classical concert for Ukraine at the Shiba Gakuen auditorium.
Members of the Chiyoda Kiwanis Club made and printed flyers and tickets themselves, told their friends and acquaintances, and asked for their support for this charity.
Mrs. van der Vliet began preparing for a reception at the Residence of the Royal Dutch Embassy. The activities and voices of these women reached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Yuko Hayashi, the spouse of Foreign Minister. Eisuke Mori, a member of the House of Representatives, and also the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Union, decided to attend the charity event. In addition, Mrs. Kuninori Matsuda, the spouse of Japanese ambassador to Ukraine participated.
Around 230 tickets were prepared and sold out in just four days, thanks to the 20 Kiwanis volunteers involved in running the concert. The entire event–charity concert and reception– prepared in only three weeks, was held on April 3rd. Although it was raining outside, the supporters gathered one after the other. In addition to the concert ticket income, many additional donations were received.
Since the concert and reception were held during the Covid-19 pandemic, the reception was held in two parts. With the concert happening in between the two receptions. This was Mrs. van der Vliet’s idea. She has event management experience from collaborating on the World Cup and the Tokyo Olympic Games. For this day, ambassadors and their spouses from several countries responded to Mrs. van der Vliet’s call for support.
At the concert, Haruma Sato prepared and performed a wonderful program. For the encore, “Bird Song”, which was once performed by Pablo Casals at the United Nations Headquarters on World International Peace Day, was selected. This song has a special meaning. Casals added, “The birds in my hometown of Catalonia sing peace, peace,” when arranging this song. For this day, Simon Beston, a composer, pianist and Head of the Music Department at the British School where Mrs. Hashimoto teaches cello, arranged the Ukrainian national anthem for two cellos and piano. Performed by Mr. Sato, Mrs. Hashimoto, and Mr. Beston.
Despite the short preparation period, the charity event was a huge success. The total amount of donations raised was over ¥ 2,300,000. In hosting this charity event, the policy was consistently “use it to buy medicine and food, not bullets and tanks.” The donation will be used to support Ukrainian women and children through the following institutions that were carefully selected according to their strong financial governance and reputation:
City of Kyoto (sister city to Kiev. They will accept many evacuee relatives of Ukrainian students in Kyoto)
There are some things we all learned from these charities. Which is “the importance of working for someone”. We also need the courage to speak out our intentions. Certainly, the amount of money earned from this charity event may be smaller than other donations globally. However, when ordinary people held hands and supported each other, everyone felt that they could exert great power.
And even if the territory can be invaded by force, no one invades the people’s hearts.
We sincerely hope that peace will return to Ukraine. We would like to pray that the world becomes a more peaceful and just place.
- Pre-concert in Support of Diverse Musicians at the Embassy of Mexico
- Residence Public Tulip Garden Viewing
Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherland in Japan Official Website