Children from one of the Philippines’ worst slums have appeared on a Japanese catwalk at special fashion shows in their country to inspire themselves to strive for a better life.
Junior student Ayumi Nishigawa of Kobe College leads a group effort to stage the shows with the aim of empowering the underprivileged children, enabling them to build self-respect and hopes for the future.
Nishigawa went to Europe in 2014 and extended her journey as far as Morocco in northern Africa where she was shocked to see children clad in rags begging for money on the street.
“Someone dressing in their favorite style can often make them feel that they’re enjoying their life to the fullest,” said Nishigawa, a 20-year-old self-professed fashion buff.
“I want them to feel the excitement and sense of self-fulfillment as they walk down the catwalk in fancy outfits,” she said. “It will help them to dream and expand their horizons.”
Last August, Nishigawa, with the help of her friends at the college and others, organized a fashion show at a university in Manila with children from a slum in Quezon City, including some whose families scrape a living from scavenging.
Nishigawa said the children first looked nervous to stand in the spotlight in front of the capacity crowd of 800 spectators, but that they looked increasingly confident toward the finale of the 20-minute show.
After the curtain call, the children jumped toward the students and celebrated the event’s success with hugs and words of mutual gratitude.
“Children in slums are neglected by the rest of society,” said Kyo Shimizu, a secretary of the Tokyo-based nongovernmental aid group KnK Japan, which helped the students organize the event in Manila.
“For them to earn cheers on a stage will help them develop an ability to succeed in life,” he said.
Eleven children’s clothing manufacturers from Kobe and elsewhere provided pieces for the show.
To organize the event’s second installment on Feb. 6 in Quezon City, several freshmen and sophomore students joined the group.
“Hopefully, we can find new students to volunteer so that this event will help children in slums for many years to come,” Nishigawa said.
Source and image: Asahi