Japanese nonprofit group to help feed school children in Syria


A north-Japan-based nonprofit organisation will help feed war-torn Syria’s children by launching a crowdfunding campaign that provides school lunches.

IVY, a certified nonprofit organisation established in 1991 in Yamagata Prefecture, has been providing educational support and other forms of assistance to conflict-affected areas, including educational support in Iraq and Syria since 2013.

Katsuhiro Hirose, a public relations representative for IVY, said, “If concerns over meals are eased, children’s opportunities for learning can be increased. This might be similar to Syria’s situation today.”

In Syria, many children have no choice but to work to support family finances, and the donations aim to raise kids’ motivation to attend school by enticing them with free meals. The nonprofit plans to offer eight months’ worth of lunches, comprising main dishes, fruit and nutrient-enriched food, to 600 students at the supplementary schools.

School lunches are said to have begun in Japan 1889 at a private elementary school built in a temple in the Yamagata prefectural city of Tsuruoka. Monks and others provided children from poor households with meals by collecting rice through begging.

On December 2021, the organisation announced it plans to open three supplementary schools in Syria, where children are taught reading and writing, so that they are able to attend regular elementary and junior high schools a year later.

The crowdfunding campaign aims to collect 3 million (about US$26,400) of the around 7.4 million yen (some US$65,100) needed to provide the school lunches. Donations start from 5,000 yen (about US$44). As of Dec. 6, 1.175 million yen (about US$10,300) had been collected. (Source: Mainichi Japan)