In late 2009, I wrote to the Arigatou Foundation to learn more about their work and to share with them examples of the material that we put together. I received a very kind reply from Mrs. Agneta Ucko and was given the opportunity to arrange to speak with her in Geneva, Switzerland by telephone. During the conversation, she explained to me that the Arigatou Foundation was established by Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto on October 12, 1990 and that the Arigatou Foundation is dedicated to defending the rights of children and facilitating their sound physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and spiritual development. I also learned that Arigatou has well established programs in the following four areas:
- Assistance- Continuous support for the survival and development of children, and emergency aid for victims of natural disasters or armed conflicts, etc.
- Enlightenment- Research on the world’s children, and raising public awareness of their situation
- Art & Culture and Public Information- Cultivation of love, compassion and appreciation for children through cultural events and the arts
- Interreligious Cooperation- International initiatives for children in cooperation with religious people of various faiths. The Arigatou Foundation contributes to the well being of countless children the world over, often working with United Nations agencies or other NGOs. In 1991, the Foundation made a significant donation to the UNICEF Gulf Crisis Aid Fund, and provided assistance for educational reconstruction in Iraq in 2003 through UNICEF. It provided continuous assistance from 1998 to 2001 to UNICEF projects in Bhutan, Mozambique, Peru, and the West Bank and Gaza, and conducted a similar program from 2001 to 2003 in Afghanistan, East Timor, Mauritania and China. Active in education, it built the Salyansthan Primary School in Nepal, which will soon be self-sufficient. These are just a few examples of its important assistance activities. In February 2003, the Arigatou Foundation established an office in Geneva, Switzerland. In February 2004, in recognition of the global impact of its work for children, the Arigatou Foundation was granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Arigatou Foundation programs are entirely supported by the voluntary contributions of Myochikai members, who offer donations as a means of putting into practice their prayers for world peace. These offerings are a fundamental part of their Buddhist practice. The Japanese word “Arigatou” means “thank you.” The very name of the Foundation expresses the gratitude which members feel for the opportunity to help children around the world.
Mrs. Agneta Ucko shared details with me about her background and described the evolution of “Learning to Live Together an Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education”. She also advised me on how to find out more about ongoing work with this project. Lastly, she spoke about the future possibility of meeting face to face once they open their New York office in 2011.
The overall flexibility, inclusiveness, scope and universalism of the Learning to Live Together Program along with their available training resources, tools, and commitment to outcome measurement developed by GNRC, Arigatou International and UNESCO have resulted in their development of programming of exceptional quality and overall effectiveness.