Shards of Hope

December 26, 2012 • Japan

A Samaritan's Purse microenterprise project helps women who lost everything in the Japan tsunami

Beautiful jewelry was lined up on display as women from the Nozomi Project gathered together to celebrate a new beginning. Everyone was amazed by their creations, and excited to see how far they have come.

The Nozomi Project is an organization striving to restore sustainable income, community, dignity, and hope to women in Ishinomaki, Japan, by teaching them how to craft unique jewelry products that can be commercially sold. It is led by Sue Takamoto from Asian Access, in cooperation with a ministry called Be One, and is supported by Samaritan’s Purse.

Most of the women are single mothers who lost their livelihoods, family members, friends, homes, and hope when the tsunami crashed through their city in March 2011.

Samaritan’s Purse helped launch Nozomi (the Japanese word for hope) to rebuild some of what had been lost. The women create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry made from broken pieces of pottery left in the wake of the tsunami—the Shards of Hope product line—as well as other beautiful products such as kimono jewelry and notecards.

Just as broken shards of pottery are being transformed into rare and exquisite treasures, so too is the program transforming bleak situations into lives teeming with future promise.

The ladies gather four days a week to cut pieces of broken ceramic that they carve and design into jewelry. With the support of Samaritan’s Purse, they were able to buy the tools and grinders to start the program.

One of the ladies shared how the ministry has affected her life and given her hope for the future.

Yuko Aizawa, known as Maturi Yuko, is a regular attendee. She lost her mother and sister in the tsunami. Her husband left her not long after the disaster. Yuko is the mother of three children, but only receives a small amount of help from her ex-husband.

The Nozomi Project employed Yuko as staff in order to provide financial support, but most of all to share God’s love with her.

“Whenever I am at home, I have to face all my problems,” Yuko said. “But now I can come here. I don’t know what I would have done without this place. When I come here, I feel better.”

Yuko has known Sue since last June and has been attending Be One’s worship service. When staff members were deciding the project’s name, Yuko said it had to have the word “hope” in it, because before she met them she had no hope and now she does.

“I know I can rely only on God,” she said.

Yuko also said she is thankful that she has other women with the same desires to come together. The Nozomi Project seeks to support single mothers like Yuko so they can support their families and find the true hope they have in Jesus Christ.

God is continuing to work in Yuko’s life to bring her closer to Him.

“I need financial support also, but I need spiritual healing to feel better,” Yuko said.