Soleil Provence: Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project
When Michel and Alana Bonzi, the owner-operators of the Soleil Provence French language school in Kugenuma near Fujisawa bought their house in 2008, they knew they’d become an integral part of their local community. For Michel, who hails from Nice, France, and Alana, from Tobago in the Caribbean, both located near the ocean, they believed the simple act of cleaning a beach could bridge their local and foreign communities.
In 2009, they started the Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project. Held twice a year, volunteers from around the world go and spend an afternoon picking up trash and beautifying Fujisawa’s beaches. Many of the volunteers have day jobs with large companies in Tokyo and Yokohama, but high school and university students also participate.
When asked about the benefits and satisfaction of volunteering, they said, “On a corporate level, one of the benefits is getting to know your work colleagues better and enhancing a sense of teamwork and team building. For families, volunteering like this is a great chance to bond. Family-friendly volunteering positively impacts work life balance.
For those studying another language, the Beach Cleaning Project is a non-risk opportunity to communicate in a foreign language, to meet people from different cultures, and to do something good for the environment and community. We’ve been very lucky to have such a positive response from our supporters. There’s been much interest in outdoor, family-friendly, corporate volunteering opportunities like ours.”
Now, seven years later, the Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project has grown considerably. Not only has the area being cleaned been expanded, but so too has the number of people and companies participating. In fact, the Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project inspired Michel and Alana to become involved with other environmentally friendly volunteer programs, which eventually spawned the creation of the SEGO Initiative, an NPO that connects people, causes and communities.
Whether you’re an individual or a company looking to help make the world a better place, if you’re interested in volunteering, please email Lee Reeve.
The next beach cleaning event will be held April 24, 2016. There’s also one later in the year in September.
For more information about the Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project, visit one of the following links:
*Article by Lee Reeve, originally published on Deep Japan
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