Our friend and colleague, Nassrine Azimi contacted us to say that she would like a message on our blog for the 25th anniversary of ANT-Hiroshima on behalf of Green Legacy Hiroshima, because, as she wrote,
“[w]ithout ANT – and you [Tomoko] – GLH would not have happened. I hope you will accept this small tribute on behalf of us all…”
We are very happy to accept Nassrine’s tribute, and we are pleased to present it here:
“I met ANT-Hiroshima’s Tomoko Watanabe shortly after settling in Hiroshima, where my institute – the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – had opened its Asia-Pacific office in 2003. Tomoko seemed to be the go-to person whenever one needed a solution, so when at the end of my term as director of UNITAR I shared with her my love of trees and expressed a desire to do something for younger children, she promptly connected me to an enlightened school principal, with whom we later created a friendship garden. And of course when I thought of working with the UNITAR team and worldwide network, to spread the message of Hiroshima’s A-Bomb surviver trees, it was to Tomoko I turned.
“I remember very well that cold winter night in early 2011 when we spoke of Green Legacy Hiroshima. I asked for her help. Within weeks she had mobilized her family and colleagues, and thanks to her, almost by magic, two of the most able and timely individuals I could dream of appeared: Chikara Horiguchi and Hideko Yamada, both of whom seemed born to be master-gardener and manager of Green Legacy Initiative, respectively. Thanks to this dream-team and to many many others who rallied around the initiative, within two years it has spread to some 20 countries.
“Tomoko’s particular talent is an ability to connect and inspire people for a larger cause, to remain small and focussed while accomplishing big things, and to be great in even the smallest circumstances. I have watched her keep ANT a place of both action and ideas – effervescent, welcoming, professional and yet so human. May that many other politicians and administrators learn the art of leadership from this slight, elegant woman.
“People sometimes express admiration, that Green Legacy – such a simple idea – has had such universal resonance. It maybe so, but without implementation it would still have been just an idea. I am grateful to the saints and sages who brought Tomoko and I to work together, starting like ants on the path of Green Legacy Hiroshima; one can hardly have a better companion for this long, 1000-year journey.”
Green Legacy Hiroshima
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)