April, 2006

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
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r previous issues.


Toshiko Ito

Cherry for Sarajevo


Hi, friends!
Spring is here, and we have gorgeous cherry blossom scenery here and there.

March, 2006

This month, I would like to introduce my friend Toshiko Ito.
Toshiko is my high-school class mate, and she is the chairman of a volunteer group, named Ipil-Ipil Society in Tokyo. She and her friends of the society have donated many things to various districts of the world. These three or four years, they have endeavored to carry on the project to donate cherry trees to Sarajevo.

Zetra Park Cemetery

Why Sarajevo?
Because Toshiko saw the sufferings and the misery of the war scars in that country. Zetra Park, once the soccer stadium, is now a huge cemetery where thousands of gravestones make lines after the dispute of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-95.

Why cherry trees ?
Japanese people love cherry blossoms specially. Traditionally, under the full bloom, we picnic and drink together. Then we feel how precious peace is to us. Toshiko wants the three nations of Muslim. Croatia and Serbia, leave their hatred against each other and drink together under the beautiful blossom.

Growing young trees

How do they make donations?
They sell their hand-made cakes at bazaars, or else, and fund money to buy young cherry trees.
Every year, Toshiko and some members of the group visit Sarajevo with hundreds of those young trees. The trees are temporarily planted at the riverside of the Milijacka until they get used to the new circumstances of cold Sarajevo.

Planting with Mayor

Who plants?
Ipil-Ipil Society members together with the Sarajevo people, including children.

Ipil-Ipil flower

What is Ipil-Ipil ?
Ipil-Ipil is a tree which Toshiko liked when she was in the Philippines.
The tree grows very rapidly and is useful in many ways. Toshiko wants to be helpful as the tree for other people. She works in a hospital in Tokyo as a social worker to support sick people and the families. She is Ipil-ipil to many suffering

I am proud of Toshiko, 'Grandmother Cherry Blossom', and would like to go to Sarajevo someday to see the grown-up cherry trees and the blossom in full bloom. Why don't you join then and picnic under the trees?

Thank you, and I hope I can see you next month again.


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Yours, Harem

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