Biography of Miki Sawada
|Sept. 19, 1901||Born as the eldest daughter to Hisaya Iwasaki (the third-generation president of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu［Combine］). Named after Miwa and Kise, the mother and the spouse of Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of Mitsubishi.|
|July. 1922||Married Renzo Sawada, a Japanese diplomat.|
|July. 1930||Left with Renzo for London, his new assignment place.|
|Autumn, 1931||Began volunteering at Dr. Barnardo’s Home every once in a week.|
|Befriended Josephine Baker, a world famous entertainer and singer, and deepened friendship ever since.
Moved to Paris with Renzo.
Learned painting from Marie Laurencin, a noted female French painter.
|Feb. 1934||Left for New York, Renzo’s new posting place.|
|Aug. 1945||Akira, her third son, died at war.|
|Oct. 1946||Ms. Elizabeth Saunders left her legacy of $170 to Episcopal Church of Japan for its charitable activities.|
|Oct. 1947||Committee for opening an orphanage for mixed-blood toddlers and infants was held at St. Luke’s International Hospital and decided to name the orphanage Elizabeth Saunders Home.|
|Feb. 1948||Elizabeth Saunders Home as a social welfare corporation was founded with Miki Sawada as Chairman of the Board and Director of the home.|
Background of Foundation
Elizabeth Saunders Home is a child welfare institution founded by Miki Sawada. She was born in 1901 as the eldest daughter to Hisaya Iwasaki, the third-generation head of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu, and as the granddaughter of its founder
Yataro Iwasaki. Married Renzo Sawada, a Christian diplomat, and converted to Christianity herself, she spent years abroad and deepened her faith.
When in London, she got the chance to volunteer at an orphanage called Dr. Barnardo’s Home where she was deeply impressed with the overflowing affection and opportunities for learning the orphans were getting for their future. She realized for the first time that “there is such happiness that money cannot buy.”
Facing the desperate situations the mixed-blood children of the Occupation Forces and the Japanese women were thrown into after the end of war, Miki believed it was her mission to devote herself to caring for those children. So, she embarked upon the project to rescue such children.
Going through unimaginably hard time in raising the fund, she finally bought back Iwasaki’s Oiso Villa which had been confiscated by the government during Zaibatsu Dissolution after the end of the war. She then began to run an infant home named Elizabeth Saunders Home there in February 1948.
She converted the home to a children’s home as the children grew older, and eventually raised a total of 2000 children in 30 years until she died in Majorca Island, Spain, while on a journey. She dedicated her life to raising those children as their mother and mentor.
|Oct. 22, 1946||
Ms. Elizabeth Saunders, a member of Episcopal Church of England, died at International Catholic Hospital in Mejiro, Tokyo, leaving her legacy worth $170 (equivalent to \61,200 of the day) to the social welfare activities by Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
|Oct. 1, 1947||
Organizing committee of opening an infant home for mixed-blood orphans was held at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tsukiji, Tokyo.
The committee decided to use $170 donated by Ms. Elizabeth Saunders to start a new facility and to name it Elizabeth Saunders Home in memory of the donor.
It also appointed Miki Sawada to represent the organizers.
|Feb. 1, 1948||
An infant home “Elizabeth Saunders Home” was inaugurated with Miki Sawada as its first director to start with two infants admitted.
|Mar. 16, 1953||Establishment of a social welfare corporation Elizabeth Saunders Home was officially approved and Miki Sawada was appointed the first Chairman of the Board.|
|Apr. 1953||An incorporated educational institution “St. Stephen Primary School” was opened with Miki Sawada as its first principal.|
|Oct. 30, 1955||Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Showa visited ESH.|
|Feb. 1957||Pearl Buck accepted four ESH children to support their self-sufficiency in the US.|
|Apr. 1959||St. Stephen Secondary School was opened with Miki Sawada as its first principal.|
|May. 1972||Miki Sawada was awarded Second Class Order of Sacred Treasure.|
|July. 1978||Nippon TV Network broadcast “Children crossing the Seven Seas ~ ESH’s 1600 children and their stories.”|
|May. 12, 1980||
While on a journey, Miki Sawada died in Parma City, Majorca Island, Spain, at the age of 78.
She was posthumously granted Senior Fourth Rank and Honorary Citizen of Oiso-machi.
|Dec. 1987||The new “Miki Sawada Memorial Museum” was inaugurated.|
|Nov. 6, 2002||Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Heisei visited ESH.|
|Apr. 2016||“Aobato” was opened as a certified center for early childhood education and care.|
|May, 2018||The memorial ceremony was held to celebrate the 70th and 30th anniversaries of the foundation of ESH and MSMM, respectively.|