Cocoro UK Representative – Mary Atkinson

It is a great honour to be awarded the title of UK representative of Cocoro, a Japanese charity providing the comfort of aromatherapy for the victims of the tsunami in Japan. My husband, Richard, and I are committed to bringing awareness to both the suffering and also the amazing strength of the local people who have lost so much.

Invitation to join Cocoro Charity

Many people ask about how I became involved with the charity. It is a story of chance which all began at Camexpo 2011, the complementary, natural and integrated healthcare event. As winner of the Camexpo Outstanding Achievement Award 2010 for services to complementary therapy, I had been invited to give a key note speech on ‘Positive Touch for Children’.

After the speech, I was signing copies of my book Healing Touch for Children and waiting in the queue was Japanese aromatherapist, Takiko Ando, who founded Cocoro immediately after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2012. Her story sounded so inspiring that we agreed to meet half an hour later as I really wanted to hear more about her work. Within five minutes of chatting, I had accepted Takiko’s invitation to join a team of four volunteer complementary therapists on their next visit to Rikuzentakata in April 2012.

Fund-Raising for Cocoro

The next morning, reality struck home. My family were concerned about my safety while my husband, Richard, stated the obvious – we couldn’t afford it. When friends asked my reasons there was no rational explanation except that it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real difference. There were times when I questioned the strength of my passion to work with Cocoro (the Japanese word for both ‘mind’ and ‘heart’) but doubts were dismissed as my path was cleared of all obstacles.  Sensing my enthusiasm, friends and family began to help with raising funds through a Japanese Evening at our home in Chichester, West Sussex. Inspired by my commitment, Richard offered his support by joining me on the trip.

Volunteering in Rikuzentakata

You can read more about our experiences of volunteering with Cocoro Charity and our positive touch for the children of Rikuzentakata programme which we introduced in April 2012.  We hope that our visit made a difference to their lives but we know that we learnt far more from their generosity and strength of spirit than we could ever offer in return.

We are very grateful to everyone in the UK who offered the practical, emotional and financial support that enabled us to introduce our ‘Positive Touch for Children of the Tsunami’ project in Rikuzentakata. If you would like to know more about the work of the charity or feel you could offer any donation to continue the work, please contact me (Mary Atkinson).

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