On the way to 2020 - Toyohisa Monden

Toyohisa Monden has been active for almost 60 years in SCI. This year he was the delegate of SCI Japan at the ICM, the annual meeting of SCI, in Catalonia.  The interview started Thursday-afternoon and continued early Saturday morning, Monden actually had so much to tell!

When was your first workcamp?

I actually participated in the very first workcamp of SCI Japan (1958). It was on an island, where an US missile-test basis was being built. Half of the population was in favour of the base, while the other half was firmly against. The workcamp was being held in a kindergarten, where children of the two groups came together.  I participated because Sato, the camp-leader and a friend of mine, who had come back from India, invited me.  I wanted to have this experience with international volunteers too, as well I had a desire of volunteering for peace.

When was the first time you realized that peace is important?

The history of Japan made me realize that. Japan had entered several countries with their army. The way this was reflected after the second WW in the constitution of Japan (an anti-aggression and intervention paragraph) made much sense to me.  Indeed, spending money for military means is very dangerous.

What are the strengths of SCI?

The way SCI is working on (social) reconstruction by volunteering, is an useful way to bring people and countries together. On individual level SCI creates a colourful life, it broadens the horizon of many people participating in our projects.

What are the challenges of SCI?

I believe there is a kind of generation-gap, especially in SCI Japan, but I think also on the international level. The values of younger people are maybe different than my generation and it is related to the spirit of volunteerism. In the past SCI was more a social movement. I worry sometimes SCI becomes just labour work (volunteering). It is also related to the amount of possibilities of young people nowadays.  For us, volunteering for SCI was one of the rare occasions to go abroad.  It was special to go by ship to India and to Europe, especially for Japanese.  But currently young people can choose do this and then that, maybe too much?!

What does the year 2020 mean to you?

It is a time for reflection, on a vision for peace nowadays, different but still inspired by what happened almost 100 years ago.  At the same time we should continue our way of working.

How do you want to celebrate 2020 yourself?

I am not intending to make or do any performance… I believe we should just continue to organize good workcamps, which support the local community and enrich personally the volunteers, in the spirit of our founder Pierre Cérésole and companions.



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