We sat down Romilda Ang, Residential Programs manager for George Pearson Centre, to talk about her recent gift of 1,000 origami cranes.
VCH: What is the story behind “one thousand origami cranes” and what is the personal connection?
In the Japanese culture, the crane is the “bird of happiness,” and according to an ancient Japanese legend
, anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted their wish
. I learned about the symbolism of origami cranes years ago – a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times.
Fifteen years ago, I folded and strung 1,000 cranes for my brother in law who was fighting kidney cancer. When he passed on, my sister donated the cranes as a gift to the unit where he was undergoing treatment at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda.
VCH: What was the impetus behind your special gift to George Pearson Centre?
RA: While the original intent of folding cranes stemmed from a wish for myself, after having been diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer – GIST, the idea blossomed to extending those good wishes and prayers to others as I folded more and more. During the process, I thought of the residents and staff at Pearson, especially as I started making these over the Christmas holidays. It became my new year’s wish to all of them!
VCH: What is special about these 1,000 cranes?
RA: On the underside of approximately 500 cranes, I wrote the names of each of the residents and staff at Pearson. At our February staff forum, those present had an opportunity to pause and bid well wishes to or say a prayer for someone special. They then had the opportunity to write the name of that person on the underside of a crane’s wing as well.
VCH: Did you fold all 1,000 of them?
RA: My family and friends have always been with me through life’s journey and this project of folding 1,000 cranes was no different. My daughter and my sister (whose husband passed away) immediately volunteered, along with my nieces and friends. Another friend and her family members helped as well. In no time at all, we had completed the project! Thinking of how to display them took a bit longer!
VCH: How was your gift received?
RA: When I presented the gift at the Residents’ Council, I was teary-eyed. I spoke slowly as I explained the meaning of the cranes to them. They were silent and visibly moved. I looked at one of the residents and she was tearful as well! Another resident said that I should put them in a glass case so they don’t break. They spoke of how delicate, intricate and meticulously folded they were.
The staff appreciated the opportunity during our recent staff forum to think of someone dear to them amidst the busy day.
VCH: Any last reflections for us on this amazing project?
RA: As I meticulously folded the cranes, I felt both humbled and joyful – Humbled by the courage and human spirit of each and every resident at Pearson and by our staff who put their heart and soul everyday into caring for our residents. I tip my hat to them. Wishing them nothing but good thoughts brings me joy as bright as the colors of the 1,000 cranes.
May these 1000 cranes, made with love and prayers, bring you good health, contentment and peace.