I thought I would write to give you a little information about the soccer ball that you found in Southeast. As I understand it, you found it on Ship Island last year and then transferred it to Kathy. Kathy eventually sent it to the Anchorage museum where it was included in a educational portion of the GYRE exhibit. The exhibit was organized to teach the public about the 2011 Great East Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
I plugged into the equation when I got a hold of Kathy and told her that I was headed over to Japan to connect with owners of items that I had found. I told her that if she knew of anyone who had found items, and wanted to return them, I would do that for them during my trip. She mentioned that she had sent two balls to Anchorage and that if I wanted to, I could return those. I went to the museum and picked up the balls, and one of those balls was the blue soccer ball that you found.
A Non-Profit Organization called KidsNow (http://www.kids-now.net), based in Sendai, Japan
discovered that I had the ball, and asked me to send it to them right away so that they might return it to Rin sooner than later. I gladly did and I also sent a little note of encouragement to Rin. I was told that Rin was extremely happy and moved by the return of his ball, as he lost everything in the Tsunami disaster. He and his mom told KidsNow that they would like to meet me, if possible, to thank me for sending the ball to them. He also sent me a little note which I will include.
Rin and his mom now live in Tome City, which is farther inland from their original home in Minamisanriku. They drove in to meet me last week while I was in the area and we were able to communicate using a translator, and some broken Japanese and English. Rin’s 16 year old brother Ren was also there.
I took 13 year-old Rin to be a bright and confident little guy. The first time I approached him, he recited a practiced greeting to me in English. It was impressive. I found out later that he loves soccer and Mathematics and wants to compete professionally some day. The ball return, to him, was an incredible meaningful miracle.
Rin also read me an essay that he had written for a competition set up for kids who survived the tsunami disaster. The competition received over 20,000 entries. Rin’s was very good, and when he read it to me in English, I found it very moving. I will attach it to this email for you to read. You’ll notice that he says something about me finding the ball, which I corrected for everyone there. I let them know that I was just one hands of many who touched this ball and helped it along it’s return journey. I told him what little I knew about you from Kathy, and I also told them that I would try to get your contact info. to them, if permitted. By-the-way, the essay wasn’t just touching and well written. It won the competition! This December, Rin will be honored with an award and ceremony for his essay. I will attach a copy of it or you. It contains information about Rin’s experience, and what the return of the soccer ball has meant to him.
Thank you for picking Rin’s ball up and being kind enough to work towards the return of it. Many people can not imagine the value these items hold to the survivors. I will say that I have been to Japan two times now, and this return proved to be one of the most endearing. By finding that ball, you really made a difference in his life. You didn’t just find and return a ball, you found and returned hope, encouragement, security, and the will to press on to a little boy who was crushed.
I will be visiting Japan again next year to do more of the same, and if you or anyone you know is interested in getting more found Japanese items back, I would be happy to help. I have a network of translators and I now have a better idea about where to look in Japan for owners.