About ESH History
What is the origin of the name Elizabeth Saunders Home?
It was named after an English woman, Ms. Elizabeth Saunders. She had been employed by Takayasu Mitsui of Mitsui Zaibatsu as a governess for his son while his family was in England. She was then begged to come along with the family when they returned to Japan. Since then for as long as thirty-three years, she had been working for the family and never left them even during the desperate war time until she died in Tokyo in 1946. She entrusted her legacy worth $170 to her friend Lewis Bush who then decided to donate it to Miki Sawada’s initiative to open an infant home for mixed-raced children. This contribution was made possible on the advice of Bush’s friend, Paul Rusch, who is famous for constructing Seisen-Ryo and developing agriculture and dairy farming to highland Kiyosato, Yamanashi-ken. The donation was indeed a salvation for Miki, for she was struggling desperately to raise the opening fund for the home. She thus named the home in honor of its first contributor. Every year ESH children visit the tomb of Ms. Elizabeth Saunders in Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery located in Yamate, Yokohama.
What kind of schools are St. Stephen schools located adjacent to ESH?
When the children grew to a schooling age, the issue of studying at schools emerged. Since those mixed-raced children were not welcomed to local public schools in those days, Miki Sawada decided to open a primary school within the site by herself in 1953 and named it St. Stephen’s School. St. Stephen is the name of a saint in the Bible but also the Christian name for her third son who died at war just before it ended. It was followed by opening of a secondary school in 1959. St. Stephen Schools offer a united education of primary through secondary schoolings with each class having only a small number of students.
Where is ESH located?
Exiting from Oiso Station on JR Tokaido Line, you can see a hill covered with thick woods on top. The locals used to call it “Iwasaki Hill” for there was the family villa owned by Yataro Iwasaki, founder of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu. The estate and the villa had been expropriated to the government as payment for property taxes during the post-war Zaibatsu Dissolution. However, when Miki decided to build Elizabeth Saunders Home, the first choice of place coming to her mind was this Oiso Villa to which she had special attachment and memory of spending her childhood, especially the days of convalescing from sicknesses. By scraping funds in every possible way such as through donations and loans, Miki Sawada managed to repurchase the estate which occupies a total site area of as much as 10,000 Tsubo ［equivalent to 33,000㎡］. ESH and St. Stephen Schools are built in the separate areas of the site.
When was the long tunnel of ESH constructed?
Entering the main gate with the signs of Elizabeth Saunders Home and St. Stephen Schools, there are the buildings of St. Stephen Schools on the right side and the tunnel on the left. Walking through the approximately 100-meter long tunnel, there stands the main building of ESH. This long tunnel named “Yowado” ,according to the books written by Miki Sawada, was constructed when Iwasaki Villa was built in Meiji Era. Since the hill range is running at the center of the site dividing it into the north area for the present-day St. Stephen Schools and the south area for the present-day ESH, the tunnel was probably needed to pass through from one area to the other on the ground level. Her book also describes that inside the tunnel there used to be four horizontal caves dug on both sides of the wall to be used to store silkworms. They are covered up with cement now.
What are exhibited at Miki Sawada Memorial Museum?
The museum, though named Miki Sawada Memorial Museum, is not the place to display her personal belongings. It displays the relics of Karure-kirishitan [hidden Christians] which Miki Sawada collected by traveling all over the country for the period of 40 years. There are about 870 such relics recovered not only in Kyushu, such places as Nagasaki, Hirado, Shimabara and Goto Islands, but also in every corner of the country. Out of this collection, about 250 are usually being displayed with the selection changed periodically. It is said that whenever pressed by financial strains Miki would sit in front of these relics and reminded herself of those Christians who had endured intolerable pains under persecution. She would mediate and pray for God so that she could arouse her spirit again to fight back.
About the present ESH
What is a children’s home like?
It is a type of the child welfare institutions operated pursuant to Child Welfare Act of Japan. Children’s homes accept children in the ages of 2 to about 18 who are in dire situations to grow at their own homes. They are brought in for various reasons such as unexpected natural disasters, accidents, parents’ divorce or sickness, or maltreatment at home. Those children are living in a homely and stable environment which enables them to develop their sense of cooperation with and compassion towards others. Children’s homes assure children’s happiness and healthy development both mentally and physically, and support them to fulfill self-sufficiency.
Who is funding ESH?
The source of funding is provided by the national government. The cost for repair, renovation or expansion of the buildings, or improvement for facilities can be subsidized to some degree, but we are obliged to raise the funds by ourselves as well. Without a means of earning money on our own, ESH relies on the donations by sympathetic supporters, Christian churches such as those of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Episcopal Church of Japan), individual Christians in general, and other concerned parties caring about our missions.
How are the everyday meals served?
A nutritionist and cooking staff cook every meal at our kitchen housed in a separate building. The caregivers and the children get meals at the kitchen and bring them back to their dorm to eat at the dining table. The dorm is equipped with a built-in kitchen where a rice cooker and other cooking appliances and utensils are available. So,the children returning late from schools after extracurricular activities can eat warm meals.
What would happen to those who left ESH?
At 18 years of age, children decide whether they seek employment or go on to an advanced education. In principle, they depart from the home upon graduating high school. Some return to their own home from where they go to work or college. Many find housing provided by their employer, in college dorm or by renting a flat to live by themselves. Some need to get continued welfare services to support a living. Paying for higher education such as college is very costly. So, when wishing to get higher education, with the help of caregivers, children lay out the financial plan for their future including a plan to apply for scholarships. After the departure from the home, children are visited from time to time at their workplaces by ESH specialist who tries to keep up with what's happening to ex ESH children and to offer some advices. We regard the relationship with the children ongoing even after their departure.
Does ESH accept volunteers?
Yes, it does. In fact, we are indebted very much to many volunteers of goodwill who support us in a variety of areas. They work raking up fallen leaves, weeding, cutting woods, repairing children’s bicycles, making bamboo-copters, teaching in woodwork classes, supporting children’s study and homework, playing together, haircutting, assisting at Sunday schools, sawing and repairing clothes among others.
Can outsiders take a facility tour of ESH?
Since the children’s home should provide a comfortable and secure private environment for children as their “home” and protect the privacy of their lifestyle, we do not accept general visitors to take a tour in the home. Upon request, however, we offer a lecture about ESH to the councilors of Commissioned Welfare Volunteers or Commissioned Child Welfare Volunteers, and other groups or organizations concerned with promoting child welfare. The hall adjoining the main building, called Space for Local People’s Exchanges, is open to and used by the locals for their various activities. The events concerning child-rearing support, foster care promotion, and so on, also take place in this hall.
Are there any preferential tax treatments for those making a donation to ESH?
The donations made to ESH are regarded as “specified donations” and deductible from donor’s income taxes. Individual donors are entitled for income tax deduction by filing the annual tax return. The tax reform of the year 2011 introduced the choice between the newly established "tax credit" or the conventional "exemption and deduction from income" for donors to get the income-tax deduction. For corporate donors, the donations are regarded as maximum inclusion in special expenses and should be included in expenses. For more information, please contact your local tax office.