Metropolis Magazine
Issue #805 - Friday, Aug 28th, 2009
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Past Issues
801: PangeaSeed
799: Shinshu Kuma Ken
797: Human Rights Watch Tokyo
795: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
793: Asian Classics Input Project
791: Japan Cat Network
789: Kiva
787: Campaign for the Children of Palestine
785: Toms Shoes
783: Gospel Hiroba
781: Mottainai Campaign
779: Pet Rx
777: Dancing 4 Kids
775: Japan International Volunteer Center
773: The Hunger Project
769: The Japan Organ Transplant Network
767: Grupo Bantus Capoeira
763: World AIDS Day
763: Development Executive Group
761: Shure University
759: Gateway International Center
757: Hands on Tokyo
755: Amnesty International Tokyo English Network
753: Japan Anti-Vivisection Association
751: Fuji by Longboard
749: CARE International Japan
743: Welcome Furoshiki
741: Kalakasan
739: Japan Team of Young Human Power
737: Metempirics
735: Poetry Boxing
733: Oxfam Japan
731: Delaying the Real World
729: Petsitting Connection
727: Eco-Villages
725: Yummy Mummies Forum
723: The Minami Circle
721: Japan for Sustainability
717: Tokyo Union Church Women's Society
715: International Computer Association
713: Baby Tree Projects
711: Hunger Free World
709: SOS Miracle Foundation
707: Hospitality Guesthouse: A Dream A Day in Tokyo
705: Habitat for Humanity
703: Japan Environmental Action Network
701: Musicians Without Borders
699: The Green Children Foundation
697: Global Mala Project
695: Mongol Rally
693: Japan Community Outreach
691: Hope Worldwide Japan
689: World Refugee Day
687: Room to Read
685: Two Cultures, One HArts
683: Dancing 4 AIDS Orphans
681: Tokyo English Life Line
679: The Jane Goodall Institute: Roots & Shoots
677: Animal Refuge Kansai
675: The Big Issue Japan
673: Down Town
671: Hiroshi Nakada
669: Remember the Children
667: Sarajean Rossito
665: Printed Matter Press
663: The Salvation Army
661: Link
659: Kasumisou Foundation
657: The British School in Tokyo-Showa
654: Second Harvest
652: Tokyo Here and Now
650: The Tyler Foundation
648: War Japan
646: Inline Hockey Clubs
644: Tokyo Voluntary Action Center
642: Chi-ki Kids
Global Village
By Karryn Miller

Dancing 4 Kids
A grassroots NPO keeps its promise to help AIDS orphans in Africa

Photos courtesy of Red Baklava

“Dance is a universal language. Dance is freedom and dance is life.” So said Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s renowned archbishop and opponent of apartheid. Tutu’s feelings are embodied by Dancing 4 Kids (D4K), an organization dedicated to helping South Africa overcome its problems.

“The dancing element of our NPO is kind of a metaphor for ‘moving’ towards helping kids,” explains Chrissi Theodorakakos, D4K’s director of funding and business development.

The group got its start in February 2008, when Theodorakakos and photographer Red Baklava went to South Africa to meet with former antiapartheid activist Patrick Chamusso. After a friend of Chamusso died of AIDS, leaving two daughters behind, he and his wife founded Two Sisters, an orphanage that now houses 76 children—and uses funds from groups like D4K to keep going.

But the history shared by D4K and Two Sisters is even more compelling. Chamusso’s tale of rising up against apartheid was told in the 2006 Hollywood film Catch a Fire. The movie inspired Theodorakakos and Baklava in their efforts to raise money for the children’s home.

Following the initial trip, D4K held an exhibition at Fujimamas restaurant showcasing photographs from the South African journey. Theodorakakos continues to sell the photos (some featured here) from her home, with the money from sales going directly to the orphanage.

After the exhibition, D4K teamed up with Waseda University to stage “Dancing 4 Two Sisters.” This show combined performances by the Austrian Ballet Company Tokyo, Japanese “beatboxer” Afra, and musician (and occasional MetPod contributor) Stuart-O with a student-led presentation on the AIDS situation in South Africa.

“Our goal is to raise money for the [orphaned] kids as well as to create awareness of their existence,” says Theodorakakos. “There’s this fear of AIDS, but with the right support and medical care people with AIDS can live the same life as us.” The children supported by Two Sisters have lost their parents to the disease, and some are HIV-positive.

The D4K team’s new fundraiser is slated for March. “Our next event will be about children helping children,” Theodorakakos explains. As details start to take shape, she is on the lookout for volunteers. Currently, the group has no paid employees and sometimes ends up sponsoring its own events.

Despite its tiny staff, D4K has big plans. “We hope to expand overseas to Europe and South Africa. It seems that even though we are such a small group, our trip to South Africa was not just inspirational—it somehow turned us into a vehicle, a driving force that spreads the news about what we saw in so many different ways.”

Theodorakakos recalls: “I will never forget the day we said goodbye to Patrick. When I gave him a hug he said, ‘Please don’t forget about us.’ Earlier, he had mentioned that many people visit the orphanage, but when they leave, he never hears from them again. I was sad to hear that and I reassured him that we would try our best to help his children. This is what we’ve been doing since then. We are trying to keep our promise.”

To learn more about D4K or to get involved, email or see Check out photographs from the Fujimamas exhibition at the D4K website or at The photos can be purchased by contacting D4K at the email address above.

Village Voices

■ With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to lace up your jogging shoes and start training for Paracup, a walk/run to raise money for NPOs supporting children. The 10k event on April 29 is being organized by Parasaiyo, a Tokyo-based NPO that works with a Filipino orphanage, and the money raised will help support a number of other organizations as well. Three thousand runners and some 500 volunteers are expected to participate. The entry fee of ¥4,500 (jr/sr high students ¥2,000; younger free) includes a T-shirt and certificate of completion. If you’re not interested in running but still want to lend a hand, a donation of ¥2,000 will buy you lunch—and you still get the T-shirt.

April 29, 10:30am start. Tamagawa cycling road course (see website for map). Online registration at Sponsorship opportunities available. Registrations accepted through the end of March.

■ If you’ve already signed up for the Tokyo Marathon on March 22, then you’re also eligible to register with the Tyler Foundation and become part of the Shine On Marathon Challenge. The locally based NPO battling childhood cancer is raising money for phase one of the Shine On House in Tokyo—a support center for families of pediatric oncology patients—by getting Tokyo Marathon runners to ask friends and families to donate money. The Shine On pledge team is invited to take part in tandem events like pre-race training and an after-party, and participants can even win prizes for fundraising efforts.

See for more information. KM

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