Change Starts In My Thoughts

Submitted for Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about transformation.... view prompt

26 comments

My hometown is Yamanouchi in Nagano Prefecture in Japan. As the site of the Shiga Highland UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, our town aims to be a place where human beings and nature can coexist in abundance. We also concentrate on achieving human rights, peace, and social welfare. Maybe for that reason, I felt that I wanted to do something for the good of my town. The year I entered junior high school, Yamanouchi Junior High was accepted into the UNESCO Associated Schools Network. In school we work on ESD (Education for Sustainable Development), and in the student council, we run activities for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In my first year (Grade 7), I joined the Community Outreach Committee, which focuses on activities related to social welfare, human rights, and peace. I am still active with the committee today.

I would like to share with everyone the thoughts I had about ‘kindness’ in the context of the Outreach Committee’s activities. In April of my first year, when I first joined the committee, our project was collecting plastic bottle caps. Every Wednesday and Thursday morning, we gathered at the school entrance. We collected not only bottle caps, but also empty aluminum cans and old stamps. Each week, we measured the weight and the number of items we had collected, and announced it to the school. This work was surprisingly hard and I was quite tired, but at the same time it made me happy and gave me a sense of accomplishment to see how much we had collected. The plastic bottle caps were donated to help pay for vaccines for children around the world. The aluminum cans were sold, and at the end of the school year the money was used to buy walkers for the elderly or other equipment, which we donated to a local seniors’ home. When we received a letter of thanks from the elderly people at the home, it made me so happy… I felt that I had been able to do even a little something for the good of the town. Our next activity was ‘heartwarming lunch letters’. The town’s Welfare Council made box lunches for elderly people living alone, to help brighten their spirits. Our group wrote letters about our school life and attached them to the covers of the boxes. We used nice handwriting and wrote many letters to send the elderly people good feelings. In May, the school principle presented the responses to this activity. The elderly people said that we helped put them in good spirits, and that the content of our letters was wonderful. When I heard this, it renewed my fondness for this activity.

The last example I want to share is an activity where we collected miswritten postcards to raise money for prosthetic legs for people in Rwanda. In the winter of my first year at junior high, Gatera Rudasingwa and his wife Mami, the directors of the Mulindi/Japan One Love Project, came to give a talk at our school. From 1990 to 1993 there was a civil war in Rwanda, and large numbers of people were massacred, while many others lost arms and legs. Gatera and Mami are continually making prosthetic legs for people who lost their legs in the war. At the beginning of their talk, I was just listening casually, but as I became absorbed in it, I felt a strong sense of dread and a hatred of war. At the same time, I also felt great respect for these two people who have been making prosthetic legs. After the talk, I wondered if there was something we could do to help in their work, and that’s how we started collecting miswritten postcards. The Community Outreach Committee steadily collected the postcards up until the fall of my second year, and then we sent them to Mr. Rudaswinga. Later, we received a reply that they were able to make a prosthetic leg for one person. Our activities had reached beyond Japan’s borders and helped someone in Rwanda. Needless to say, this gave me great joy and a real sense of accomplishment. Through these activities, I realized that there is kindness we can see, and kindness we can’t see. The walker we donated, the lunch letters we wrote, and the prosthetic leg that was made—these are kindnesses we can see. What supports these acts of kindness is the day-to-day thoughtfulness of each individual. Even though we can’t see the results of our thoughtfulness right away, I hope to continue holding this kind of thoughtfulness in my heart.

To be completely honest, being kind is often exhausting. When the world seems to be against me, I get bitter and wonder what use it is to be nice to anyone. I lose interest in making others’ days brighter, and focus on my own dark and cloudy day. I have found that, though I am kind to someone, they may never return the favour. I now realize I shouldn’t expect something in return. When someone shows kindness, it should be from the heart, knowing that it may not come back to them. The real pleasure is the feeling of warmth after helping someone. However, it takes will-power and strength to be kind. I find myself growing tired and cranky when under stress, making it harder to be kind to somebody. That is why it takes commitment to continue the chain of kindness, to ensure that the cycle of spite is not perpetuated. I feel, to make a real impact through kindness, I must create a like-minded group that promotes deliberate acts of kindness wherever possible. We would support each other, to prevent the feeling of isolation in an endeavor of kindness, to remove the sting when kindness is met with viciousness, and to help each other remain constant in kindness. It is this consistency that makes a difference; a conscious choice to be the ray of sunshine in a dark cavern, and illuminate it. Only then can we see the impact of our actions. 

NOTE: This story is not really about me but about somebody else whom I cannot mention.

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26 comments

Felicity Edwards
20:09 May 27, 2020

Your story was heart warming. As a writer though, you need to let your words and feelings flow. It’s as if you are giving a report, that is important but not as a story. Go for those emotions it makes the story more hard hitting. The concept of the chain of kindness is wonderful, stick to it either for you or the other person you hinted about. Strange you mentioned prosthetic limbs, mostly in the wars in Africa they are the results of land mines. I worked in Africa for many years in the squatter camps. I made a deal with the plastic surgeo...

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Alka Sharma
11:39 Jun 05, 2020

Nice

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Grace Jarvis
19:21 Jun 03, 2020

Wow, this was great. I loved it. The thing is, for me, it didn't flow. I think there's some room for improvement, and of course, that goes for all writers. I saw it was based on a real person, which may be the reason for the flow not fitting. You know? Overall, great story! Also, if you don't mind, please lend some feedback to my submissions. I need it, I think.

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Himanshi Y
06:57 Jun 03, 2020

I love the fact that you didn't only show the fulfillment that kindness gives us but also the sad truth that not everyone will return the kindness. Keep up the good work, all the best for your future projects.

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Pragya Rathore
17:25 Jun 02, 2020

What a great story! I loved this... Well done! Please read my stories too!

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Sandeep T
14:23 Jun 02, 2020

Come on Sadia.. You mixed up two winning entries from a Japanese international essay competition.. as they were.. Why though?

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Daryl Gravesande
13:49 Jun 01, 2020

Great story! I think it would be better if you spaced out the paragraphs, so it doesn't feel all jumbled up. Otherwise, great job! Also, I have a new story! Tell me what you think!

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Hello World
04:05 May 29, 2020

wonderful story

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Tim Law
12:06 May 28, 2020

Sadia again you have a true passion for sharing real life. Whether it is your own story or the story of a close friend you are very brave to tell it as you know it. Well done.

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Patricia Buyu
08:25 May 28, 2020

I love how the story is filled with historical events.

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Killer Dude
07:21 May 28, 2020

awesome story

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Saleem Qureshi
06:46 May 28, 2020

great story

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Sadia Faisal
06:04 May 28, 2020

you people are very nice

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Sadia Faisal
06:03 May 28, 2020

thanks everybody for such nice comments, i will look through my mistakes

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17:49 May 27, 2020

Sadia, Once again, I love how your stories have a central message that is being passed. The first one I read, was on the importance of nurses. This is on kindness. It's really good that you send important messages like these to the reader, and this says a lot about you as an author. However, I didn't enjoy the fact that you didn't space out your work appropriately. This is a personal opinion, but I've found many readers find stories more attractive if there are slaves. Maybe you could've clicked the enter key to separate different act...

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Kathleen March
17:35 May 27, 2020

Being kind is often exhausting. My favorite line, and perfect.

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Manel Tairi
14:15 May 27, 2020

Great story and the end was phenomenal !

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Sadia Faisal
10:14 May 27, 2020

nice story

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05:54 May 27, 2020

one of a kind story

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05:53 May 27, 2020

an inspirational story

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