These earrings are named after the beautiful daughter of one of our staff. Sara's family was one of the first that our team met after the 2011 disaster. She and her brother were bright spots in the middle of chaos; they were featured in a video made by Healing Hands that helped many around the world understand the tragedy as it unfolded.
Sometimes, difficult times can create inseparable bonds. Sara loves her brother so much because of his special care of her and feels like she can do anything with him. Because she is so loved by him, she is able to give love to others. When you wear Sara earrings, we trust you too will feel the love intended as these were specially crafted by our Nozomi staff.
Iyori-chan is the 6th-grade niece of one of our artisans. Mature for her age, she's fashionable and likes to dress up. Iyori used to love playing and dancing with her aunt. When her aunt got married and moved to Ishinomaki, her husband's hometown, she didn't get to see Iyori as often. But on a recent joint shopping trip, the two were so happy to shop, laugh, and reconnect.
Rumi is named after the sister-in-law of one of our staff, Tomoko. Rumi is one of the unsung heroines of the 2011 tsunami. After the earthquake, she wanted to get home quickly from her part-time job to be with her three year old son and husband. But she offered to first take her coworker home, to her co-worker's family. She almost made it home -- within two blocks -- when the tsunami took her life. Her son is now being raised by his father and grandmother, Reiko.
We first met Ayaka at a Hawaiian luau party put on by a great team of volunteers from Hawaii. She was in preschool and oohhh so shy and cute! Ayaka came with her parents, and her mom shortly after that time began working at Nozomi Project. Despite many challenges, we admire the resilience of Ayaka, her parents, and so many people we have the privilege of knowing in Ishinomaki.
The Kikuko necklace is named after a dear Ishinomaki friend who is a grandma, friend, helper, and chef. Before the tsunami, Kikuko-san worked as a fishing net mender. Her skills proved helpful, and she was one of the fastest at stringing these necklaces when we first designed them. In the early days, the Nozomi workshop was in Kikuko's neighborhood, and she frequently brought over breakfast for everyone. Kikuko doesn't work for us anymore, but her kind and generous legacy lives on!
We are honored to name this necklace after Taylor Anderson, a local Ishinomaki hero. Taylor was serving as an English teacher for elementary school children in this region when the 2011 earthquake hit. She made sure to get all of the children in her care to safety, then began to bike home when the tsunami came and took her life. She was greatly loved by our city and her loss has affected many on both sides of the ocean. Her family and friends have created an NPO so her legacy can continue (read more here), and we are pleased to honor her life with the naming of this necklace. This quote from her family also expresses the heart of Nozomi:
"To cope with our loss, we have sought to emulate the person we loved and to be the shadow of her passion. It was Taylor who taught us, through her study of Japan and its literature, that solving problems can best be done by connecting with others." (Source)
Our customers nominated women heroes who represent the strength and dignity and beauty that Nozomi is all about -- we got so many wonderful entries! In the end, our team chose Kate to represent this necklace. We are touched over and over by her life: "Kate was a beautiful balance of positivity and authenticity... While Kate is no longer physically living on this earth, her spirit, kindness, tenacity and radiant smile live on in her three children. The three pendants of the necklace immediately struck me because, to me, they represent the blessings she's left behind in the form of her three kids."
The name Kei was chosen in honor of one of our Nozomi team children, a teenage girl. Kei-chan was adopted from a broken family situation, and she is such a great reminder to us of the beauty that can came from brokenness. She is sensitive and kind, and we are thrilled that this necklace is named in her honor!