Watchapol Sowapark: Volunteering for Children at Kyoto University Hospital

For my CIP activity I volunteered at Kyoto University’s hospital’s NicoNico Tomato organization where I played with the hospitalized children in and assisted the other volunteers in the activity room. I participated every Tuesday and have had a thoroughly positive and enriching experience. My duties ranged from preparing materials for the day’s activity, to performing whatever task the other volunteers may have for me, to simply playing with the children who decided they’d rather just play with toys and have their parents do the activity for them.

As a once a week volunteer I can expect something new and exciting every time I step foot into the children’s playroom. This is because every day there is a new activity planned and in my case, a different set of hardworking and caring individuals to meet. When I first realized that with every visit I made to NicoNico Tomato I would be working with different people from last time, I was a bit taken aback since I felt like I had formed a relationship with the volunteers I had worked with before. But I soon realized this was a boon for the sake of my experience as a volunteer and as a way to improve my Japanese skills. Needless to say, I became quite adept at self-introductions and was able to quickly establish myself in a new group of people every time I visited.

My experience with NicoNico Tomato has been genuinely awe-inspiring. I never expected such a level of care and earnest from what is essentially a volunteer program. I believe what sets NicoNico Tomato apart are the members’ passion and sincerity when it comes to helping children who are suffering from illness. Every day that I am there I am made to feel as if I was part of a truly exceptional team whose efforts bring out the smiles and laughter of those who really need it.

3 thoughts on “Watchapol Sowapark: Volunteering for Children at Kyoto University Hospital

  1. I think this is a really meaningful experience and I’m curious about how you usually interact with the children. Do you talk and tell stories to them or just simply look after the children while they play with toys?

    • I would usually begin by attempting to get them engaged on the current day’s activities. Sometimes they listen and I help them out with things like cutting paper and teaching them how to make stuff. But then there are also times when the kids just want to play and have their parents do the activity for them. I usually don’t simply look after the children as they play but rather I would actively play with them. One day they really liked climbing me as if I were a tree.

      • Wow they climbed on you! 羨ましすぎるぜ……