A young Japanese entrepreneur opens a web shop selling Indian textiles thanks to the people she met during the United World Week
by Kyoko Yoshida
from "Economia di Comunione - una cultura nuova" n.43 - Editorial insert of Città Nuova no. 7 - 2016 July 2016
I met the Focolare Movement when I was twenty years old, in the Luminosa Little Town near New York. I visited it following the suggestion of a Buddhist friend of the Rissho Kosei Kay movement: my family had given me the push to help the poor, so when l finished school, before looking for a job, I devoted ten months to volunteering in the Philippines.
Here I learned to "give" respecting the dignity of persons; when I returned to Tokyo, I started working in a real estate company since I thought that the fashion industry I had studied at university was "only for the rich".
It was run by a rich and powerful couple, who began to demand from me all different kinds of services up to the point of almost turning me into a slave - so I left that job and went to get an experience in the little town of the Focolare movement in Loppiano.
Here, during the "LoppianoLab" event I visited the exhibition of the EoC companies and to deepen the life sytle proposed to us I asked to work in Philocafé, a yarn shop and bar in the EoC Lionello Bonfanti Business Park.
The language difficulty and my concern over seeing the Philocafé run by a couple (just like in my previous experience) vanished as soon as I noticed that Juliana and John treated their employees in a brotherly way. This welcoming atmosphere was extended also to the customers, who sometimes came just for a chat, to rest or to be with them: it was a community open to all.
At first I doubted that I had made the right choice: I was not getting the specific training that I had expected. Then I realized that I was the one who had to change their mentality: the EoC is a culture of giving, and until you start to give you have nothing in return. I started to give, and I am grateful for what I have received: in Philocafé I met many people who were close to the EoC project and I felt a growing desire to start a business that would be related to my studies on Indian textiles: this is how I began to understand the mystery of divine providence, what has always made me think.
After returning to Tokyo I worked in a tailor’s shop for three years and learned to manage a laboratory with cutting machines, until my great opportunity arrived. It was the "United World Week" that was held in India, Coimbatore - at the end of that event, I stayed on for a few days in the Shanti Ashram centre of the Gandhian Hindu movement which also participated in the event. Here they welcomed me as if I were family and helped to organize the import of textiles I needed to open my web shop named "First Light", the "first light" of Chiara Lubich, where I sell scarves produced with Indian textiles.
All this is a gift of God: as a Buddhist I am running my business in the spirit of unity with my fellow Christians, helped to achieve it by my Hindu brothers. Buddha uses all means to achieve the unity of peoples, and I hope that First Light will become a bridge between peoples. Since I started, many people who are close to the EoC have been helping me.