THINK LEPROSY NOW 2016 Side EventsWorld Café Networking Event
Bibliobattle Social Book Review Game
Held every year since 2006 to coincide with World Leprosy Day, which was observed this year on January 31, The Nippon Foundation’s THINK LEPROSY NOW campaign to eliminate leprosy-associated prejudice and discrimination held a variety of events during the last week of January. The Global Appeal 2016 declaration was delivered at a ceremony held on the morning of January 26, and was followed by an International Symposium on the subject “Discrimination and How to Prevent It: Lessons from Leprosy,” in the afternoon. In addition, a World Café networking event bringing together people affected by leprosy from around the world and Japanese young people was held on January 27, a Bibliobattle to introduce people to books dealing leprosy took place on January 31, and a photo exhibition titled “Think about leprosy, think about people” was held from January 29 to February 2 (the exhibition will also travel to Osaka and Fukuoka in March).
World Café: Let’s Start a Movement!
A social networking event in the style of a World Café was held on Wednesday, January 27, from 18:30 to 21:30 at The Nippon Zaidan Building in Akasaka, Tokyo, with approximately 70 people, including visitors from six overseas countries, attending. The event, which had as its theme “Things young people can do,” began with informal conversation over beverages and light snacks. Seven guests, from the Philippines, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, India, Brazil, and Japan, and including people affected by leprosy, family members of people affected by leprosy, and people working to support people affected by leprosy, were introduced and shared their own experiences. Next, each of the guests sat at a table representing their country, marked by their country’s flag. Participants sat at one of the tables as a “visitor” to that country, and after 20 minutes all visitors moved to other countries, with each visitor traveling to three countries. While visiting each country, the guests and participants discussed things that young people can do to eliminate leprosy-related discrimination. Ideas were written down on Post-it slips of paper, which soon spread out to cover the tables.
At the Nigeria table, participants listened with interest as Modupe Esther Ajibola, whose parents are both affected by leprosy, talked about her work at the Nigerian office of IDEA, an international organization that works to protect the human rights of people affected by leprosy. She spoke about how she, as a family member of people affected by leprosy, had personally experienced the stigma associated with the disease, and emphasized the importance of education and sharing correct information. Participants asked questions about what action the Nigerian government was taking, and what kinds of jobs people affected by leprosy had. She explained that the government provides financial support when private organizations carry out campaigns, and described how IDEA arranges for training to allow people affected by leprosy to acquire skills in areas in which they express an interest. She also noted that the products made by these people are well received, without prejudice.
Conversations continued past the allotted time, and the evening concluded with each of the participants writing on a signboard something that young people could do, or what had impressed them most about their visits to three countries. They then held up these signs together for a commemorative photograph.
Bibliobattle: Social Book Review Game
A bibliobattle event was held on Sunday, January 31, from 13:00 to 16:00 in Roppongi, Tokyo. Bibliobattle is a social book review game in which “battlers” give a five-minute presentation to promote a book they have read, and after the presentations and Q&A with each of the battlers, the battlers and audience vote on one of the books as “champion.” The objective is “to learn about books through people, and to learn about people through books.” For this event, which roughly 150 people attended, five battlers presented books they had read that deal with the subject of leprosy.
The books included An (Sweet Red Bean Paste) by Durian Sukegawa and Watashi ga Suteta Onna (The Girl I Left Behind) by Shusaku Endo. In their presentations, the battlers spoke about how the books they had read had provided advice for their own lives, and how the positive attitudes of the characters impressed them. The champion book was Umarete wa Naranai Ko Toshite, by Ryoko Miyasata. The book tells the story of a girl whose parents are both affected by leprosy and forced into isolation and the hardships they faced, as well as her own struggles in education, marriage, and family relations, and how she maintained her dignity throughout. The winning battler was Kaori Yokomori, who was presented with a 100,000 yen travel gift certificate from The Nippon Foundation.
The afternoon also included an informal panel discussion on the subject of literature and leprosy, featuring IDEA Japan Chairman Miyoji Morimoto, Durian Sukegawa, and actress and author Yuri Nakae. Mr. Morimoto was diagnosed with leprosy when he was 14, and lived in sanatoriums for close to 50 years. His acquaintance with Mr. Sukegawa led to the novel An. Ms. Nakae wrote her college thesis on the author Tamio Hojo (1914-37), who although forced to live in a sanatorium, authored several novels dealing with life as a person affected by leprosy, including Inochi no Shoya (Life’s First Night). Mr. Morimoto remarked, “Rather than giving us sympathy, I hope that young people will become friends with people affected by leprosy and become earnestly involved in solving these problems,” to which Ms. Nakae added “Knowing about leprosy makes you think about yourself.” Mr. Durian talked about his own experience visiting the National Hansen's Disease Museum, noting “After visiting the museum, you leave with a great sense of strength.”
Photo exhibition: Think about leprosy, think about people
An exhibition featuring photographs by The Nippon Foundation photographer Natsuko Tominaga was held from January 29 to February 2 at “oo Square” in the Marunouchi oazo building in Tokyo. Approximately 80 photographs with the theme “Think about leprosy, think about people” were displayed, including roughly 50 taken by Ms. Tominaga over her 14 years of traveling to places including India, Ethiopia, Central Africa, and Vietnam. The remaining photographs were taken at sanatoria in Japan by photographers Nobuyuki Yaegashi and Akira Kurosaki.
This was the second year in a row that the exhibition was held at oo Square. An average of more than 300 people per day visited, including families and business people working in the surrounding Marunouchi area. Questionnaires were distributed and returned by roughly one-third of the attendees, to give the Foundation a better understanding of the public’s awareness of leprosy. While many of the photographs depicted smiling faces, one of the most striking, taken at the Motipur leprosy colony in Bihar State, India, shows two children, taken through a fence, and forcefully conveys the feeling of isolation that exists in the colony.
The exhibition will move to the Twin21 Atrium in Osaka from March 1 to 5, and then to IMS Plaza in Fukuoka from March 9 to 13.
The Nippon Foundation