Original CARE Package® Recipient: Nachiko Yokota
May 13, 2020
CARE Canada donor Nachiko Yokota reflects on the CARE Package® she and her family received after the Second World War and her legacy of supporting our work over the years.
You wouldn’t believe the excitement in our home the day we received toothpaste in our CARE Package®.
And then we got sugar—sugar! Imagine our delight.
My parents, Grandmother, three siblings and I were living in Germany when World War II broke out. I was born in Germany, but our family was originally from Japan. My father was a diplomat, and we got stuck in East Germany during the war. My Mother was German, but she had her citizenship taken away because she married a Japanese man, which was illegal at that time. When my brother and I were born, we were stateless.
We were so happy to receive a CARE Package® in the aftermath of the war—we had very little, and were often starving. We lived in the countryside, so we really only had a couple potatoes and carrots to eat. The CARE Packages® made such a difference to our family.
We had no candy (and hadn’t for quite some time), so my Grandmother mixed up the toothpaste and sugar to make peppermint candies for us. We were thrilled! It was something small, but meant so much to us.
My father was separated from us during the war when he was captured in Berlin and incarcerated in Russia. At the time, we had no idea what had happened to him, or if he was okay. Fortunately, after 2 years he was able to make it safely back to Japan and add our names to the family registry, which made us Japanese citizens. This was how we were able to return to Japan after the war; my Mother went to the Russian embassy, and because we were Japanese we were able to leave Germany via the USA. We arrived in Japan in 1947, and like Berlin, a bombarded Tokyo was a scene I will never forget.
I immigrated to Canada around 45 years ago with my husband and two daughters. When I heard about CARE, I knew that I wanted to support the organization that had helped my family. I started giving to CARE Canada in 1989, and have been a monthly donor for 31 years.
One of my favourite things about CARE is that they employ local people to help their own communities and countries. It means a lot to me that when there has been a famine or an earthquake, the first thing you hear is that local CARE staff are looking after their neighbours and communities in the areas that have been affected. This means that CARE is creating local employment, and that they know how to help the people who need it most, because they are speaking to them right there, on the ground, as it happens.
I think everyone should give to CARE—it doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but every small amount helps. It’s so important to help others, and to think about people at a time when they are in need. It meant a lot to my family to know that people were thinking about us, and supporting us when we needed it, and I’m happy to be doing the same for other families that need our help today.