Momiji Project

The Representative: Ms. Masayo Kidani's Profile

  • I attended Sacred Heart School from kindergarten to high school.
  • I graduated from Keio University and later worked at Japan Airlines as a cabin attendant of international and domestic flights.
  • At this time it took 18 hours by a propeller plane to Hawaii.
  • I began to visit facilities, such as orphanages, for volunteering when I was a university student.
  • I was able to stay in destination countries for around two weeks while I was working at Japan Airlines. In this way I had several opportunities to visit welfare facilities in each country.
  • After five years of duty, I quit my job and spent about three years in Paris where my husband was working. During those years, I visited facilities for the elderly or orphans, using the connection of the Sacred Heart School alumni association.
  • I returned to Japan at the same time of the birth of my eldest daughter in 1964 (the Tokyo Olympics year).
  • The current empress, Michiko-sama, who is two years senior to me at Sacred Heart School, introduced me to Ms. Sachiko Hashimoto and I visited the Japanese Red Cross headquarters. She gave me a position in the Red Cross. After that, I worked as a volunteer for 40 years in 7 countries’ Red Cross: Japan, France, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, and the UK.

In Japan, I studied at the Hashimoto School which was strict but filled with love, mainly in the Red Cross Language Service Volunteers section, and she taught me the real volunteer’s spirit. Some students in the school for the blind where I was volunteering at that time are still my good friends for approximately 25 years and they often call or visit me in the U.K.

In Vietnam, immediately after I transferred to Saigon harsh war, the Tet Offensive had just begun. Therefore, dodging rocket guns, I was acting as a first aid nurse of wounded soldiers and citizens in the battlefield. I had two children back in those days, they were three years old and 6 months old.

In Thailand, I volunteered in a facility for the blind.

In Hong Kong, when it was still under the rule of the UK, I had my first encounter with the British Red Cross. There, I mainly did juvenile-related works as an Executive Committee Member of Youth and Junior. I took boys and girls to a refugee’s collective housing to have them clean an awfully insanitary place, planned various projects for juveniles, and volunteered at a boarding school for disabled children, Princess Alexandra School for the Special Needs, for three days a week and enjoyed inviting them to our home on weekends. For six years in Hong Kong I learned about the British-style Red Cross in which they have a broad outlook.

In Germany, I lived in Berlin for seven years. I took on so many different types of jobs from the German Red Cross every single day from morning to evening, that I think I worked the most there in my life. I helped young disabled people to become independent, provided elderly people with home health care, helped prevent family disruption of alcoholic people, helped with a drug abuser’s rehabilitation, and worked as a probation officer in the biggest prison in Berlin. In the time of crisis in Poland, I went to villages around Czech or the Russian border to deliver aid supplies ten times, once every 15 days, as a German Red Cross rescue member. There were no females or foreigners except me. The Japanese Red Cross required me to do this job and they gave me the “Golden Performance Award (KINIRO YUKOUSHOU)” When I left Berlin, I was so grateful to this country to have nurtured me for seven years. They also gave me an honorable medal.

I’ve been living in the U.K. from 1985 until today and I’ve had many jobs as a British Red Cross Councilor, an international donation committee member, an instructor, the chief of the center, an ambulance driver, a first-aid nurse and so on. Also I’ve been working in the Children’s Hospice, established in this country (the first of its kind in the world), taking care of elderly people in my neighborhood’s blind society, taking care of blind people, and working in the “Driving Group” where we get disabled people on a horse drawn wagon to run outdoors to enjoy the fresh air.