The JELA Foundation is active in providing economic, nutritional, educational and medical support to children throughout the world, with a particular focus on the South Asian countries including India, Cambodia and Bangladesh. In addition to support to children in Asia, JELA also works in close partnership with various NGOs in Brazil to help children in need. Recent projects include the support of child feeding program, clean water provision, school construction, purchase of medical supplies, and providing solar lighting. Our mission objective is to alleviate poverty, while at the same time engaging in preventative and capacity building programs so that children do not become victims of poverty and end up living on the street.
A related mission activity is that of sending short and long-term volunteers to work with our Lutheran-affiliated partners overseas to help children at the grassroots level. While most of our volunteers are 15 to 25 years old, JELA also welcomes applications from mid-age and elderly to participate in our outreach initiatives. One significant volunteer activity undertaken is the making of prosthetic limbs at a project site in Jamkhed, India. People of all ages have participated in this mission service opportunity that typically takes place over a 10-day period during the month of February. Still other junior and senior high school volunteers participate in a one- week U.S.-based Group Workcamp program during the month of August, which is aimed at repairing the homes of low-income, elderly people. To date, over 150 Japanese youth have participated in this life-changing program. JELA has also sent recent college graduates to serve in Brazil, working with under-privileged children living in the “favela” (slum) areas.
JELA’s volunteer sending program is best described as “transformational”. This means that even though we travel overseas to help children in need, it is the individual volunteer who oftentimes undergoes profound change and growth, particularly in terms of their own world view and spiritual development. In the end, it is our sincere hope that Japanese volunteers will play a greater role in promoting global understanding and peace amongst all people.