15th Anniversary Reception for the Green Volunteers was Held!
The Green Volunteers, which is sent by the Fujifilm Workers’ Union to China every year, carried out tree planting activities in the Horqin Desert of Inner Mongolia from July 29 to August 2, 2012.
Since the 10th cohort (2007), this activity has been carried out in cooperation with FUJIFILM (China) Investment Co., Ltd. (FFCN) and many FFCN employees, mainly from FFCN Shanghai and Suzhou, participated in this activity again this year. Fujifilm Group employees from both Japan and China worked together on greening activities. This year, in addition to the 20 employees from FUJIFILM Corporation, Japan and 21 FFCN employees from China who participated, we also wanted to spread this activity to Fujifilm Group companies in Japan, thus, the chairpersons of the workers’ union from each of the companies also participated in the experience.
For the 15th cohort, a reception to commemorate the 15th anniversary was held at the Bowang Hotel on the evening the participants arrived.
From the second day onward, after participating in desert tours (to observe the progress of desertification), observing the growth of pine and poplar trees planted by previous cohorts (their predecessors), the 15th cohort group performed reforestation activities and with the efforts of all members combined, planted 550 pine trees, weeded the undergrowth of the pine trees planted by the 11th cohort, and pruned poplar trees. Friendships between team members deepened through the reforestation activities as well as through traveling and having meals together, and a sense of unity was fostered between these colleagues of the Fujifilm Group.
At the reception, Katsuya Asafusa, Chairman, Fujifilm Workers’ Union, RuiFu Xu, FFCN Vice President, and Mr. Yoshio Kitaura, Director General, NPO “Green-Net”, and representatives from the local forestry bureau expressed their gratitude for the activities. In addition to presentations on the chronology and history of activities and the current situation on desert reforestation activities, a commemorative video summarizing the 15th anniversary activities created by FFCN was also shown. Once again, all participants were able to deepen their understanding of these activities. In addition, all participants voted on the cover of the commemorative book that summarizes the history of the past 15 years. All aspects of the event were well-matched to a 15th anniversary reception and it was a wonderful celebration.
While I worked hard alongside local farmers and FFCN employees on tree planting, weeding, and pruning, I sincerely thought, “I want to come back someday and see that these trees that we’ve planted have become forests.” Although the tree planting activities were only over a few days, I feel as though something has changed inside me, and I now want to review my life and live more intentionally. I would recommend as many people as possible participate in this activity.
In China, Inner Mongolia has always had an image of being a lush place, but I was surprised to find out that desertification has progressed and the environment has been damaged. I am grateful to everyone that I was able to spend such a meaningful time planting trees through the cooperation of the Fujifilm Green Volunteers and through these activities. I feel the gravity of what has continued for 15 years and I would like to carry on the work of my predecessors going forward. The period of the reforestation activities was very short, only four days, but I will treasure this memory of working with everyone for the rest of my life. If there is another such opportunity in the future, I would like to meet everyone again at a similar type of activity.
When you see how well trees are growing in what was a desert 15 years ago, you can feel the progress of the reforestation activities. All the participants were able to realize once again that while one person’s power may be small, we are by no means powerless, and that each one of us can change the world. I hope that social contribution activities can continue so that not only those from Japan and China can cooperate but also group employees around the world.
In 1997, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the unification of the Fujifilm Workers’ Union, the Green Volunteers was started as one of the new social contribution activities, and now it is in its 15th year. Over the years, there were two occasions that it became unavoidable to delay the dispatch of the team due to SARS (bird flu) outbreak in China in 2003 and the anti-Japanese demonstrations in 2005, but we responded by changing the timing of the trip or by sending a smaller team (two people), and thus, we have continued these activities every year without fail.
While the population increases and the economy grows, the number of livestock used for food increases, and these animals eat up the vegetation in the grasslands, and thus desertification is still progressing in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. The Green Volunteers is working to restore this desertified land to the green area it once was. We do not stop at just “planting trees,” and our activities have evolved to include “activities to manage planted trees and the forests that have developed.”
In 2006, one person participated from FFCN for the first time. That person participated in reforestation activities for the first time and apparently they were very impressed by the Green Volunteers and how it transcends national borders. Since then, about 30 people join each year and engage in work together. Now, as part of our CSR activities, we are responsibly and proactively engaged in this reforestation activity. One of the things that members who join the Green Volunteers from Japan look forward to is being able to interact with FFCN.
This is an era in which we face environmental issues as global citizens. We recognize that the Green Volunteers has become even more meaningful and we will continue our work. This activity provides the “excitement” of seeing desertified land become green again, “encounters” with colleagues who work hard together, and “smiles.” If you are interested in volunteer activities, please join the Green Volunteers and experience this activity for yourself. Do it to benefit others and do it to benefit yourself.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the volunteer greening activity in China and it is a year with special significance.
Since 2006, FFCN has jointly participated in this activity that was initiated by the Fujifilm Workers’ Union on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Currently, not only FFCN employees, but also volunteer representatives of subsidiary companies in China, external volunteers, and those from the media, etc. form the Chinese team. The number of participants from China has grown from one person in 2006 to 30. With everyone’s support, this activity has already become an important component of the Fujifilm Group’s CSR activities in China.
As a Chinese person, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who came all the way from Japan for these tree planting activities in Inner Mongolia. In addition, I am very happy to meet so many volunteers through these activities and I am impressed with everyone’s efforts which transcends national borders to protect the environment. Through these greening activities, the volunteers from Japan and China become one team, we work together on greening activities, have fun and interact with each other, and we will always cherish the friendship that is born from this.
Through seven years of joint participation that started with the visionary cohort, the greening activities have carried on for 15 years, and I can feel that the everyone from Fujifilm Workers’ Union has put their heart and soul into this. To commemorate this journey, to raise public awareness on environmental protection, and to encourage action, FFCN has published a book and produced a video that traces the path of this activity over the past 15 years. We have received a great deal of cooperation from our colleagues in Japan in the work of collecting material for the book and video. The editing process is currently going smoothly and we expect it to be completed within this year.
We still have a long way to go before the Horqin desert is restored to the verdant grasslands it once was. Continuing these reforestation activities will expand the green areas in the desert and make positive changes to the ecosystem, making our actions meaningful. By believing that each one of us can change the world, I hope that we can continue this work into the future.
Mr. Yoshio Kitaura
Congratulations to the Fujifilm Green Volunteers on its 15th Anniversary At the same time, this is the 10th anniversary of your support for our organization. On behalf of our organization and on behalf of the local government and residents, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for the great understanding and cooperation we have received over the years.
Thanks to the participation of many union members and participants from FFCN over the past 10 years, the desertified land is slowly being restored to green. The greatest happiness comes from the fact that three parties, the local residents, the participants, and our organization can work hard toward the same purpose and share the results. But our work is but one small part of the vast Horqin Desert. We hope for the further development of Fujifilm Green Volunteers and we thank you for your continued support and cooperation.