September 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 5 
Cover Story

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Boeing helps bring Japanese orphans 'home'

The Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995 was a nightmare of collapsing buildings and wildfires that killed close to 6,000 people in the vicinity of Kobe, Japan. As many as 573 children lost one or both of their parents. They needed emotional and financial support, and a place to call home.

An organization called Ashinaga stepped in to help. Founded in 1969 to support children who had lost one or both parents in traffic accidents, it's one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Japan. Its name is the Japanese translation of "Daddy Long-Legs," the title of a children's book about an orphaned girl.

Ashinaga was already offering educational scholarships and emotional-care programs for children and university students who had experienced the death or permanent disablement of a parent. But in response to the Kobe tragedy, it did something more. To offer children of all ages a safe, secure and homelike environment, Ashinaga built the first Rainbow House day-care center, completed in 1999. The house is named after a black rainbow drawn by a 10-year-old boy who had lost his parents in the earthquake. Ashinaga's hope is that the counseling and group activities at Rainbow House will restore bright colors to orphans' lives.

"One of our missions is to provide places where these children can bring back their happiness and smile again," said Yoshiomi Tamai, president of Ashinaga. The organization also looks outside Japan with fund-raising for earthquake, war and AIDS orphans and the construction of Rainbow Houses in Taiwan, Colombia and Uganda.

As part of the celebration of Boeing's 50th anniversary in Japan and as a continuation of that long and trusting relationship, the company officially launched community-relations activities in Japan in 2003. Because Boeing Japan's Community & Education Relations strategy supports underfunded educational and human-services organizations, one of its first donations was a grant to Ashinaga to support the construction of a second Japanese Rainbow House in Tokyo. Ashinaga envisions the Tokyo house bringing together the area's large number of counselors, schools, health and safety departments, and local governments to share their experiences and expertise for the good of orphans throughout Japan.

"We are honored to be one of the contributors to such a valuable and great project," said Skipp Orr, president of Boeing Japan, at the donation ceremony in November 2003. "We'll continue to show our commitment to these activities that help improve lives in our local communities."

"Ashinaga will make the most of [Boeing's] warmhearted spirit to build the best day-care center in Japan," said Tamai.

Tokyo Rainbow House is scheduled to be completed in fall 2005, and to begin offering programs in spring 2006.

-Naoko Masuda and Maribeth Bruno


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