The Shapla Neer nongovernmental organization in Tokyo is utilizing unsent postcards to help fund education for poor children in South Asia.
The NGO, which provides aid to Bangladesh, Nepal and India, runs an annual project to collect unposted cards from across Japan.
Those collected are converted into stamps at post offices and then into money to fund support programs in target countries. The campaign is conducted from December through the end of March, a period when many New Year’s cards sold with stamps remain unused across Japan.
Some 123,000 postcards were collected in 2012, according to Shapla Neer. Gathered from 4,300 individuals and 200 companies, they were converted into ¥4.88 million in financial aid. This year, the group aims to collect 140,000 cards.
According to Shapla Neer, some 420,000 children under 18 years old work as house maids in Bangladesh. Although elementary education is compulsory in Bangladesh, nearly half of these children have never attended school, due chiefly to poverty. More than 70 percent are illiterate.
In 2006, Shapla Neer and a local NGO joined forces to hold classes in Dhaka and another city in Bangladesh to teach such children how to read and write, as well as arithmetic and English. Health education, including basic sanitary habits, and household work are also taught.
One donated postcard can buy a picture book for a school, while 10 will cover the cost of one reading and writing lesson.
Unsent postcards can be sent to Shapla Neer’s office at 2-3-1, Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, 169-8611.