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A few years ago, I was fortunate to have been involved with a great group of people at an organization called JAPEC (Japan Association for the Promotion of English to Children), which organizes learning experiences for Japanese children that promote the practical use of English. It was an association that has resulted in some really exciting news for the PongoHogoHogo Challenge, with JAPEC offering their support in raising awareness of the challenge through their own events and through the 1000 schools that they are affiliated with! I hope the message rings out loudly and clearly - "Teachers and children of Japan - lets work together to save our mate Pongo and his/her jungle home!"

Thank you Mr. Ono for your interest and friendly enthusiasm and to Ms. Satomi Terai for coming to our school all those years ago and starting it all! You are brilliant. :-)

posted by Mick and Miki Tan @ 6:05 PM, ,

The SavePongo Big Send Off - Part 1

On Sunday June 7th, 2009, the Hotel Grand Hill in Ichigaya will play host to the official launch of the Pongo Hogo Hogo Challenge. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined a place as elegant as the Grand Hill and even now, we need to pinch ourselves when we have our planning meetings at the venue. It is a far cry from the community sporting halls that we had initially approached to host our event. Where once our concerns had centered around what people would think of the smells left behind by the sweaty school children who frequent such community halls, now our most pressing decisions revolve more around which cuts of meat will best match the range of wines that the hotel is kindly offering us for the event. We would not have been able to fathom such an opportunity had Miki not made such an impression on the management during her time as a wedding pianist at the hotel in her past life. Fond memories obviously linger long, and it will be something that we'll hopefully try to give all of you who join us as well. Stay tuned for more news! It's going to be a cracker.

Venue: Hotel Grand Hill Ichigaya

Date: 7th June, 2009

Time: 4.30 - 6.30pm

Cost: 8000 yen

Dress: Dress Up (but be prepared to move about too :-) )

posted by Mick and Miki Tan @ 4:37 AM, ,

1 year, 2 stilts, 3 thousand kms

~1年 2竹馬 3千キロ~
-1 year 2 stilts 3 thousand kms-

The Issue
Since 1980 Borneo has seen more than 80% of its forests disappear due largely to illegal logging activities and the expansion of palm oil plantations. The rate of deforestation is not slowing with Indonesia still losing the equivalent of 6 football sized areas of land every minute. The process of clear cutting and then burning the forest to make way for oil palm plantations causes massive damage to the environment, and has directly resulted in Indonesia's inclusion as one of the world's top 3 producers of greenhouse emissions (after China and the US.)

What is more, the expansion of these plantations in to some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems has meant that whole species now face the threat of extinction. Pongo, the orangutan, is one such animal.

Despite being one of our closest relatives, the orangutan has received the least attention of all the great apes (compared to gorillas and chimpanzees especially) which has meant that the public is largely unaware of the seriousness of their situation. According to recent studies, if the current rate of deforestation continues, the orangutan will be the first of the great apes to become extinct, with some figures suggesting by as soon as 2012. That is only 3 years! While they may share 97% of our DNA, making them more like humans than any other animal, the current situation in Indonesia has left them helpless and facing a very grim future without help from us.

The Challenge
- 1 year, 2 stilts, 3 thousand kms. We will walk the length of Japan, from its most northerly point to its most southerly on stilts in order to raise money to protect the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, and in turn the orangutan
(otherwise known, to us anyway, as PONGO!)
- We will attempt to stop at every school that is on our route to meet, talk with and be inspired by the people we are doing it for – the children of Japan.
- We WILL NOT use any money raised to cover any of the costs associated with the challenge. All of the costs will be paid for out of our own savings so that ever
cent will be used for the cause we are working together for.
- We will not have a support vehicle or support crew. The challenge will be 100% carried out by us. Food. Water. Tents. Clothes. All carried by us. It wouldn’t be a challenge otherwise would it!

The Charity

All money raised through the challenge will go to support BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation) Japan's projects in Borneo.

posted by Mick and Miki Tan @ 2:06 AM, ,