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The Bazaar Cafe

February 1, 2005

Dear Friends,

Springtime in Japan is a time of commencement and new beginnings. Graduation usually is in mid-March and the new school year begins April 1st. Cherry blossoms also help make it one of the most beautiful times of the year. For Christians this time also coincides with the celebration of Easter. New beginnings, new life, new commitments!

A new challenge for me this year will be to develop a new curriculum for students interested in international social work as well as social work in “non-traditional” settings. Since coming to Doshisha I have continued to connect students who are interested in social issues (like the homeless, migrant workers and their families, HIV/AIDS), to organizations doing hands-on work in those areas, (such as the YWCA and the Bazaar Cafe, Habitat for Humanity). Many students have volunteered and gained invaluable experience through this. And needless to say, the organizations have gained much from the involvement of these young people. Through my prodding, the department has acknowledged that an increasing number of students are interested in social work outside of the usual institutional settings. So, from this coming school year, students will now be able to get credit for their field work in these non-traditional settings. I am happy about this!

Many of you know about the Bazaar Cafe, a coffee house ministry, located in an old UCC missionary house. The Cafe now has become an official “placement” for students interested in working with a diverse population, providing care for persons with HIV/AIDS, as well as people with various disabilities. Now we have seminary students volunteering their time to provide bible study for those who are interested. Last Fall we had our first Annual Fiesta, with Filipino, Thai, Mexican and Korean food and entertainment.

I close with an example of how the Cafe has made a difference in people’s lives. A Filipino woman, a survivor of domestic violence, sought help from our YWCA hotline several years ago. We referred her to a shelter, and legal help, and she finally obtained a divorce and custody of her four children. During this time we offered her work at the Cafe, and she is now our Filipino chef. She has gained confidence and now has an interest in helping other foreign women like herself who face domestic violence and need support. She has become a leader in her church community, and also has developed into quite an effective public speaker. The Cafe she says, offered her the supportive community she needed when she was most vulnerable.

Thank you for your continued support of mission that is happening in Japan!

Martha Mensendiek

Martha is a missionary who serves at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan through the Council on Cooperative Mission. Martha is a Teacher of social welfare.

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