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Japan nonprofit crowdfunding donations for Syrian children to get free school lunches

Children in Syria are seen receiving lessons in this photo provided by nonprofit organization IVY.

YAMAGATA -- A north-Japan-based nonprofit organization has launched a crowdfunding campaign to provide school lunches to children in Syria.

    IVY, a certified nonprofit organization established in 1991 in Yamagata Prefecture, has been providing educational support and other forms of assistance to conflict-affected areas, including educational support in Iraq and Syria since 2013. In December 2021 it plans to open three supplementary schools in Syria, where children are taught reading and writing, so that they are able to attend regular elementary and junior high schools a year later.

    School lunches are said to have begun in Japan 1889 at a private elementary school built in a temple in the Yamagata prefectural city of Tsuruoka. Monks and others provided children from poor households with meals by collecting rice through begging.

    Katsuhiro Hirose, a public relations representative for IVY, said, "If concerns over meals are eased, children's opportunities for learning can be increased. This might be similar to Syria's situation today."

    In Syria, many children have no choice but to work to support family finances, and the donations aim to raise kids' motivation to attend school by enticing them with free meals. The nonprofit plans to offer eight months' worth of lunches, comprising main dishes, fruit and nutrient-enriched food, to 600 students at the supplementary schools.

    The crowdfunding campaign aims to collect 3 million (about $26,400) of the around 7.4 million yen (some $65,100) needed to provide the school lunches. Donations start from 5,000 yen (about $44). As of Dec. 6, 1.175 million yen (about $10,300) had been collected.

    Donations will be accepted until Jan. 6, 2022. Details can be found at https://readyfor.jp/projects/syria_schoolmeal.

    (Japanese original by Taisuke Kodera, Yamagata Bureau)

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