|A family walks past rubble after the earthquake and tsunami in Minamisanriku City, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
Credit: Reuters/Kyodo, courtesy Trust.org AlertNet
Children in Japan Need Our Help Now
ChildFund International, which serves vulnerable children throughout the world, is focusing current fundraising efforts on helping children devastated by the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. ChildFund is working with its global Alliance partner, ChildFund Japan, to speed response.
Relief items are being distributed in three prefectures (states) that were seriously damaged. ChildFund Japan has partnered with institutions in the area to maximize resources, coordinating with these entities to maintain a steady flow of emergency goods (rice, noodles, powdered milk, butane cartridges and other daily needs) and to avoid overlap or gaps. By meeting children’s basic needs, we help them strengthen their ability to cope and remain resilient in the face of these traumatic events.
Equally important, though, is the psychosocial support ChildFund will provide for the children who suffered the disasters and will continue to bear their long-term effects. ChildFund Japan will provide thousands of teachers with a manual based on one that ChildFund International created for use in emergency situations. In the aftermath of natural disasters, children’s universes are turned upside down, and they need to be able to talk about such stressful events in order to heal. It’s important to listen sensitively to children and help them understand what has happened. Teachers and caregivers can look to the manual for targeted, age-appropriate activities.
ChildFund Japan has sought our help so it can support earthquake- and tsunami-affected children as fully as possible through this crisis.
We, in turn, seek yours. Please donate now to help ChildFund care for Japan’s children, who have lost so much.
UPDATE 2011-05-18: Propagating Support
In recent weeks, ChildFund Japan has set up offices in several cities in Iwate Prefecture to continue providing emergency goods and volunteer services in the area. ChildFund Japan will concentrate its efforts in Iwate’s Ofunato City and other areas that were devastated by the tsunami, continuing support into the reconstruction phase.
The Girl Scouts of Japan have joined in the effort to distribute ChildFund’s manual for psychosocial care of children in emergency situations. Some 8,000 Girl Scout leaders now have the manual, which they intend to use in a grief camp they will hold jointly with the Boy Scouts of Japan.
ChildFund Japan also has begun an 18-month partnership with the Comprehensive Clinical Thanatology Research Center of the Japan Lutheran College Graduate School of Integrated Human Studies to offer a multi-session grief counseling program in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. It will train professional responders who are in direct contact with those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
UPDATE 2011-04-06: United and Strong
In Natori City, one of the hardest-hit areas in Miyagi prefecture, 1,800 people — including children — remain scattered among 17 evacuation centers.
On April 1, Japanese baseball great Kazunori Shinozuka and golf pro Chieko Amanuma volunteered their help with ChildFund Japan’s second delivery of relief goods from ChildFund Alliance to Natori City’s survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. Japan’s fondness for sports is legendary, and these two stars had come along with ChildFund Japan to help brighten spirits.
On their way to one evacuation center, Shinozuka and Amanuma met some teachers from another city who shared their experience of the disaster:
On that bright March afternoon, as dozens of schoolchildren practiced baseball and other sports in the schoolyard, the ground shook. Then came the roar.
Dropping all of their equipment where they were, teachers and students fled toward the roof of the nearest school building and reached it just before the tsunami washed everything else away.
“Everyone escaped to the water tank on the roof,” one teacher explained. “There were about 200 of us, and we had to spend a night. We really feared that we might not survive.”
The tale left the two athletes speechless — and added weight to the message Shinozuka gave when they reached the junior high school that for now serves as an evacuation center. “Today, we carried not only relief goods, but a warm feeling and messages from the world,” he told the 100 people gathered there. “Please understand that many countries sent us with the same message for you: We are with you! Let us be united and stay strong, for we will overcome and be on our feet again.”
Afterward, a venerable lady and longtime fan of Shinozuka’s stepped forward with tears in her eyes. “Thank you for your message,” she said to him, undoubtedly speaking for all present. “We are uplifted and given strength.”