This week’s Maseno Minute is about the Yokota Pad Group in Japan. Read about what this awesome group of women is doing for girls in Asia!
Good morning and welcome to this week’s Maseno Minute! From all of us here at TLC, we hope you are doing well, enjoying a nice chai latte, and preparing for what could quite possibly be the best week of your life—you just might not know it yet.
This week’s Maseno Minute is taking you to the Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. About an hour west of central Tokyo by train, the Yokota Base is a small American niche in a sea of Ramen restaurants, kanji billboards, and “Daisos”—the Japanese equivalent of the American “Dollar Tree.” The base has its own school and its own hipster-esque coffee shop, and there are a myriad of vintage cars parked in the driveways, because cars are much more affordable in Japan than in the states. There is also a chapel where, once a month, a group of dedicated women meet to sew pads for girls who need them.
The walls of the chapel room are the basic cream-white of most walls in most buildings, but they serve as a nice contrast to the brightly patterned giraffe and owl fabric the women use to sew pads. The Yokota Pad Group, started by Emma Stober in 2014, has between 8 and 25 people volunteering at a time, all of whom buy all of the underwear and supplies needed to sew the pads. Many of the women bring their own sewing machines, while others are on cutting-duty, trimming old towels or fleece to make reusable liners.
Being that the Yokota Pad Group is in Japan, the proximity to Asia has enabled this group to spread the reach of the Pad Project to the Philippines, Cambodia, and Pakistan. Merri Kever, a volunteer with the Yokota Pad Group, has been influential in delivering pads to Asia, and she is currently planning two more pad-delivery trips in the coming months. From all of us here at TLC, we want to say thank you to Merri Kever and many other women from Yokota who have delivered on pad trips, and who have taken time out of family vacations to deliver pads to girls who need them. We think you are pretty awesome.
The Yokota Pad Group also has a group of younger girls who regularly attend Pad Workshops. Emma Stober commented that, “Youth and people in general here at Yokota have a slightly different view of what our options could be, I think. 150 women are sold on the border of Burma and Thailand everyday for 24 dollars, and that’s really close to us. Being here [in Japan] makes that a lot more relevant.”
Statistics like these are devastating and horrible, and we all know that. But we live in a culture in which we are confronted with statistics like this on a regular basis. We read them and we see pictures that make our hearts react, and we want to help, but we look around at our kitchen and our family and our refrigerator stocked full of food and think, “Where do I start?” Then we go refill our cup of coffee and go back to work. We are often so removed from these situations and people that we see these statistics, these facts of life, and we are simultaneously overwhelmed and distanced by them, but in the end we do nothing.
Truthfully, you and I won’t save 150 girls every day on the border of Burma and Thailand. But giving up one Saturday each month to cut and sew and engage with other people, all while enjoying the modern conveniences of electricity and running water, is a really good way to start trying. Because you might be gearing up for the best week of your life, but there are a lot of girls across the world who are settling in for one of the worst weeks of their life. And that’s not how it should be.
From all of us here at TLC, we want to say thank you to the Yakoto Pad Group. You guys are loving girls you will never meet in the best way you can, and we think that is awesome. We couldn’t exist without you giving your time and (literally) going the extra mile to deliver pads.
If you feel like your heart reacts to this, we ask you to start your own Pad Group in your community. We have three overseas contacts who need pads, but we currently do not have enough pads to give them; as such, we are asking one person to start one Pad Group to help us sew 300 more pads in the next 6 months. Check out our website, toolittlechildren.org, for helpful videos and instructions, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. There are millions of girls across the world who need pads, and we will never reach all of them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Thank you for tuning in to this week’s Maseno Minute. From all of us here at TLC, we hope you grab an extra cookie from the break room at your office, or a nice ripe banana from your kitchen counter, and settle back in to a great day and even better week.