"I really identify with the vision of achieving peace through children's drawings."
SHINGO OGAWA (JAPAN - UGANDA) / Chairman & General Manager of Overseas Business Department, certified NPO Terra Renaissance
1. Please introduce yourself; tell us what you do and where you are based.
My name is Shingo Ogawa, and I am the chairman & general manager of the Overseas Business Department for NPO Terra Renaissance. Currently I reside in Uganda, Africa.
2. Please tell us what you like most about your Unissograff product.
It is extremely comfortable and easy to wear. It might be considered a little flashy for Japan, but it is perfect for Africa.
3. What attracted you most to the Unissograff art-piece that formed the basis for this product's design?
The design is based on the drawings made by children living in the civil war-torn parts of northern Uganda, where I am now.
The people living in northern Uganda have suffered the effects of long-term conflicts going back to the mid-1990's, and it estimated that over that time as many as 38,000 children have been kidnapped and made to fight as child-soldiers. On top of that, more than 90% of people have been displaced and forced to live as refugees in their own country. Many tens of thousands of people were unable to obtain basic essentials such as food, sanitary water or medicine.
When I first came to Uganda in 2005, around 150 people were dying every single day. This was not because of direct violence like gunfire or bombing, but because they could not get vital water or food, or 5-dollar anti-malarial drugs. Children were dying from the likes of malaria and diarrhea, usually easy to treat. Just because they could not get a hold of even just 5 dollars. And more than one-third of them were children aged less than 5. It is always the vulnerable - women and children - who suffer the consequences of conflict the most.
Having said that, over the last 16 years of working here, I have also seen first-hand such vulnerable people overcoming their difficulties and stand up for themselves through sheer resilience. No matter what hardships they faced, they would never give up and always believed in their own ability to be self-reliant. I strongly believe that everyone possesses the power to build a great future, and I live my life praying for peace, like the children I have met that have suffered from consequences of conflict, never giving up hope.
As I mentioned before, the design on this hooded jacket was based on the drawings of children just like that who have endured the ravages of fighting. And on top of that, a portion of the profits is used to support those children who continue to suffer in Uganda from the effects of the conflicts. I would be overjoyed if people reading this could contribute to helping even more children in Africa by buying this hoodie.
4. What aspects of what Unissograff is doing do you identify with the most?
I really identify with Unissograff's vision of achieving peace through children's drawings.
5. How do you think you might be involved in Unissograff's activities in the future?
I would be thrilled if we can continue to work together towards a peaceful future.
interview courtesy: SHINGO OGAWA (JAPAN) / Chairman & General Manager of Overseas Business Department, Terra Renaissance
【UNISSOGRAFF Hoodie for UGANDA】
*The hoodie that Mr Ogawa is wearing in the pictures above features the Unissograff design "Group of Peace"; a collage of more than 70 drawings based on the theme 'what I would like when peace comes' and drawn by refugee children and former child-soldiers in Uganda.
<Shingo Ogawa PROFILE>
Chairman & General Manager of the Overseas Business Department, certified NPO Terra Renaissance
Born in Wakayama prefecture in 1975. While a student, learned of Mother Theresa's death in Calcutta and promptly began volunteer work at one of her institutions.
Following graduation from university, was sent to Hungary as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer, where he engaged in peace & goodwill activities through sporting events with the former Yugoslav countries.
Based in Uganda from 2005 where he operated a social rehabilitation support programme for former child-soldiers. After returning home, in March 2011 became the Chairman of Terra Renaissance.
Currently, while continuing to be involved with independence support inititiatives for conflict victims and former child-soldiers in Uganda, Congo and Burundi, he is responsible for all general affairs of Terra Renaissance as the present Chairman.
Co-author of "I am 13, profession: soldier" (Godo Publishing), and "53 chapters to get to know Uganda" (Akashi bookstores).
WEBSITE / http://www.terra-r.jp (Japanese language only)
FACEBOOK / http://www.facebook.com/terra.ngo
Global Giving Terra Renaissance / https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/reintegration-for-former-child-soldiers-in-uganda (English language)