日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2021 No.409】Ai no Izumi’s Legacy of Creative Social Work in Saitama Prefecture


Ai no Izumi’s Legacy of Creative Social Work 

in Saitama Prefecture

by Hanae Ushioda, president

Social Welfare Corporation Ai no Izumi

The history of the Social Welfare Corporation Ai no Izumi (Fountain of Love) began in autumn 1945. Gertrud Elizabeth Kuecklich, a missionary from Germany, was sent to Japan through the Evangelical Association and worked as a missionary teacher before and during World War II. After the war, she started relief work for war orphans with Okayasu Suzu and her son, Okayasu Shogo, using the employee dormitory room of Okayasu rubber factory in the village of Raiha (now Dote in Kazo City), Saitama Prefecture. During the 76 years since its founding, it has developed into a social welfare corporation that owns 5 institutions and runs 18 facilities, including a nursery, a children’s home, a daycare center, a home for the elderly, and a special nursing home.

Kuecklich was helped and supported by German and North American churches, but she gave priority to developing cooperation with local people and the local government. This has resulted in the growth of Ai no Izumi with local support, so this Christian nurture of young people has continually produced new generations of responsible citizens. To commemorate her efforts,  Kuecklich was awarded honorary citizenship by Kazo City.

Kuecklich said, “Ai no Izumi is a realization of our vision. This vision was born out of our deep calling, working together with technical knowledge and true love. As God loves human beings, we must study society and people and work with all our abilities, especially our imagination and creativity.” Even though there have been great changes in society, laws, and systems as well as a variety of new social needs arising, we have followed in her footsteps, using our imagination and creativity to love and serve people for over 75 years.

The staff of Ai no Izumi are always mindful of six basic principles while they work.

1. We believe that “Ai no Izumi” was established by the will of God.

2. We will help those who have no one else to help them.

3. We put down our roots here.

4. We work together hand in hand.

5. We will be a friend of “one of the least of these.”

6. We respect family, children, the elderly, and the church.

All these ideas are based in the Christian spirit. Concomitant with the founding of Ai no Izumi, we began worship services that later developed into Aisen Church. [Editor’s note: “Aisen” is composed of the same characters as “Ai no Izumi”] We hold services there for the staff every morning, and on Sundays, local people also come to worship together.

We will follow and respect those who established Ai no Izumi, though we must earnestly respond to the new needs of our present age of diversity. We will strive to maintain those things that must not be changed while mustering up the courage to make necessary changes.

The special nursing home facilities have been deteriorating, so we will have it rebuilt this year. Our goal is to provide single rooms for all the residents that will enable prevention of infections more easily and also to build facilities that can safely withstand natural disasters. It is to this end that we work and pray. We also pray that the new special nursing home will be a joyful place to live and ask members of churches in Japan to pray for us and support us. (Tr. SK)

                                     —From Kyodan Shinpo 

                                     (Kyodan Times, No. 494849)



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