Habitat for Humanity Japan helps open first child respite facility in Asia

Bangkok, 3 June: On Saturday 1 June, 19 volunteers were hard at work at ‘The Ocean View Forest’, a collection of remodeled traditional Japanese-style houses that serve as a palliative care facility for children with serious illnesses or disabilities.

top: Goldman Sachs volunteers in front of ‘Grandma’s house’. below: Hung Ke Lee (on right) helps make Japansese paper screens.

Habitat staff and volunteers from Goldman Sachs spent the day renovating ‘Grandma’s House’, one of the buildings that make up the hospice.

Volunteers divided into three groups, taking on different tasks – gutting or sanding old floor boards, pasting Japanese paper screens, or building benches. Six benches are to be placed in the surrounding forest, to be used by children needing to rest or as memorial spots for parents who have lost their children and had previously visited The Ocean View Forest.

Hung Ke Lee, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, said:

“We first started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Japan in 2012 after the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 by building a communal storage unit in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, to help revitalize a shopping street where affected businesses had set up operations in prefabricated structures. This great collaboration led to us supporting The Ocean View Forest project, through our people becoming volunteers for the day as part of our Community Teamworks project, and through a financial contribution from our Goldman Sachs Gives fund.

There was a lot of focus on supporting the immediate disaster response effort in Japan, but affected families also need longer-term support and there are many other people in need of assistance all over the country.

Volunteering is a lot easier than people think. I hope that through our work with Habitat for Humanity we not only help children coming to The Ocean View Forest, but show that volunteering is something that can be done anytime.”

The Ocean View Forest in Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, describes the facility as the first of its kind in Asia and presents itself as a place where families can temporarily leave sick children and take a break from being house-bound carers.

“Habitat for Humanity Japan is grateful to Goldman Sachs for both its employee volunteers and their funding. It is a great honor to help open the first child respite facility in Asia.

This project is also a ground-breaking example in Japan of how a corporate and a non-profit organization, as donor and technical partner, can work together to support a third organization in need”, said Hideaki Nakagawa, National Director, Habitat for Humanity Japan.