Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Give in Johnny's honor and help Japan recover from March's earthquake and tsunami.
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Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Sat May 07, 2011 4:44 pm

From the April 27, 2011 fact-sheet update from the Mercy Corps website:

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Mercy Corps Responds to Historic Japan Earthquake

More than a month after the massive Sendai earthquake struck Japan, and as powerful daily aftershocks continue to rattle the country – and the nerves of survivors – Mercy Corps is working with our partner agency, Peace Winds, to bring relief and recovery to people in need. The 9.0 March 11 quake was the strongest to hit Japan in at least 100 years and world’s fourth-largest since 1900. It triggered a 30-foot tsunami that swept away everything in its path and damaged all six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

The joint Mercy Corps and Peace Winds response is providing immediate relief supplies to families living in evacuation centers and helping families who have moved into temporary homes set up their new living spaces. We are beginning to offer post-trauma support through our signature Comfort for Kids program. We are also taking steps to begin early economic recovery in tsunami-affected zones and to improve access to clean water and sanitation.


Emergency Supplies to Four Cities

Our response team began delivering emergency assistance to Japan on March 14. Today we are providing supplies and support to the tsunami- devastated cities of Kesennuma, Rikuzentakata, Ofunato and Minami Sanriku Cho.

Via air and road, our team has delivered three balloon shelters that house up to 100 people as well as large numbers of smaller tents, blue tarps, blankets, space heaters, kerosene, medical face masks, towels, mattresses, clothing, bottled water, sanitary supplies such as diapers and toilet paper, school supplies and food. We also have hired local carpenters to construct a bathing facility using recycled wood debris from the tsunami zone.

In Rikuzentakata and Kamaishi, our partner is providing bedding and kitchen items to 154 families that are moving into new temporary shelters constructed by the Japanese government.

To date, the emergency relief work of Mercy Corps and Peace Winds has reached as many as 42,000 Japanese living in shelters.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Sat May 07, 2011 4:49 pm

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A long-awaited, welcoming soak

By Malka Older, Team Leader for Mercy Corps' response in Japan
Created 04/14/2011 - 6:33am
Blog Post: Posted April 14, 2011, 6:33 am

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The Takonoura Community Center in Ofunato, northeast Japan, has become home for around 80 people whose houses were destroyed in the massive tsunami on March 11. They don’t know how long they will be there or when piped water will be reconnected in that neighborhood, but Peace Winds Japan — with support from Mercy Corps — has helped to make their difficult situation a little more comfortable and hygienic by helping them build a temporary bathhouse.

For most of us, a hot shower can make all the difference between a good day and a terrible one. In Japan bathhouses not only help people keep clean and psychologically refreshed, they are also an important community space where people (usually segregated by gender) relax together.

Among the happy memories of my years living in Japan are the times when unknown old women, sitting next to me in the bathhouse, offered to scrub my back for me, as well as special excursions to particularly nice hot springs with groups of friends. On this visit, I’ve found stepping into a hot bath the best way to relieve the stress of aftershocks and extensive destruction.

I imagine the first bath for the evacuees in Takonoura after the temporary bath was set up — already a few weeks after the earthquake and tsunami — loaded with fear, grief and grime. The carpenters and other artisans among the evacuees worked together with Peace Winds Japan staff Matsuda-san and Kojima-san to build the bath, using salvaged materials and donations. The water, in a tarp-draped tank, was first heated and then pumped by generator into a second tank, which once held fish in a processing center or market, inside a tent.

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To get to the bath itself, you walk through a series of three tents, each affording more privacy. The innermost segment has wooden pallets on the floor for drainage, with shampoos and soaps available for the initial scrubbing before stepping into the former fish container for a hot soak.

“The only problem is that in a normal bathhouse you can take your time,” said Sakiyama-san, an evacuee who gave us a tour of the bath. “Here because we have so many people waiting to use it, we have to set limits.”

However, in the cold springtime of this Touhoku (northeastern) region of Japan, even a short soak in hot water is very welcome.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby audamay » Sat May 07, 2011 4:54 pm

Thank you Theresa for this report which sobers us up considerably. I hope we are able to raise enough funds to be of some help to these poor souls.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Sat May 07, 2011 6:59 pm

The Zone has always been very faithful to give and I know this worthy cause will be no different. Our combined donations may not seem like much in the face of such a overwhelming disaster, but if all we are able to do is help one person, it will be a success.


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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat May 07, 2011 7:13 pm

It's feeling very good to be part of this. Thank you for the opportunity!
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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Mon May 09, 2011 6:43 pm

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Comfort for Kids Program Eases Trauma

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April 2011--Mercy Corps is launching our signature Comfort for Kids program, which builds the ability of local communities to help children recover from the emotional effects of a large-scale disaster.

Comfort for Kids has provided post-trauma assistance to children and caregivers in settings as diverse as New York City after 9/11, China after the powerful 2008 earthquake and, most recently, the earthquake zone of Haiti.

The Japan Comfort for Kids program will begin with a pilot at the Kesennuma evacuation center which, like the other centers where our team is delivering supplies, houses children whose family members are still missing. Grief, loss and the continuing stress of aftershocks make it a priority to provide children with emotional support.

Mercy Corps’ expert team is working to ensure that the program is appropriately adapted for Japanese children and the disaster-affected region. We will hire and train local staff to implement this program. We also plan to adopt some elements specifically for the many elderly citizens who have been affected by the disaster. Trainings will be conducted in Japanese and program publications will be distributed in Japanese and English.


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Helping the Japan tsunami’s littlest survivors

By Joy Portella, Mercy Corps' Communications Director
Posted March 26, 2011, 7:10 am

The youngest survivors of disasters are often the most resilient, but also the most fragile. While earthquakes and tsunamis rob children of the same things that most adults hold dear — homes, families, friends — kids lack adult coping mechanisms. The emotional toll can be devastating.

Today in Kesennuma, a city of about 70,000 people in northeast Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, I witnessed both the resiliency and fragility of children. In the city’s main evacuation center — a converted sports complex — a play room has been set aside for small children. Today was the first day it’s been staffed by certified childcare providers who are creating activities to make life a little more normal and pleasant under the current, difficult circumstances.

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That’s where I met Hidayuki Suzuki, age 40, his wife Miho, age 24, and their three-year-old daughter Rin. The Suzuki family had been living in the evacuation center for two weeks since their apartment was severely damaged by flooding. Hidayuki tells me that Rin is too young to understand the earthquake and the family has been together the whole time, so she’s doesn’t seem troubled.

Dad was more worried about contagious illnesses like colds and the flu, which despite best efforts to practice good hygiene like hand washing and the omnipresence of medical masks, are running rampant in the overcrowded living conditions. Rin, he explains, became very ill when they first arrived at the center. Despite her current cheerful appearance, she’s still on the mend.

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In the main auditorium, I met a family with a different story. Hiromi Ito, age 33, had brought her two young children Soma and Kokowa to visit their grandparents, who are living in the center. Hiromi and her children are also evacuees but they have been taken in by her husband’s family. Hiromi’s mother, Masako, had not seen her grandchildren since the quake.

When the tsunami hit, Hiromi and her children fled to a nearby rooftop, where they remained stranded for three days without water, shelter or any form of relief. Finally, the family was rescued via helicopter, and things haven’t been the same since.

“My children are afraid,” Hiromi reveals. “They wet the bed. They cry all the time that they don’t want to go up on the roof, and they want to go home. When we were waiting to be rescued, they had nothing to eat, and now they won’t stop eating.” She’s obviously very worried about them.

Children like Rin, Soma and Kokowa are survivors, but they’ll need help — whether it’s working through their fears, learning to feel safe again, or just being able to play with other kids in a normal, happy environment.

That’s why I’m glad Mercy Corps and Peace Winds are teaming up to bring Comfort for Kids to Japan. Comfort for Kids has provided post-trauma assistance to children and caregivers in settings as diverse as New York City after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Sichuan Province of China after 2008’s powerful earthquake, and most recently, the earthquake zone of Haiti.

Now we’ll work with a team of Japanese experts to create a customized program that is culturally appropriate and built around the unique circumstances of this country’s recent disaster. I’m confident it will help the children of Japan not just survive, but thrive in the long term.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Sat May 14, 2011 5:12 pm

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Q&A with Peace Winds' Natsu Nogami

By Joy Portella, Mercy Corps' Communications Director
Posted March 30, 2011, 8:52 am

I recently sat down in Tokyo with Natsu Nogami of Peace Winds, our Japanese partner organization. In the coming weeks and months, Natsu will work with Mercy Corps staff and local Japanese psychologists and social workers to bring Comfort for Kids, a program that helps children recover emotionally from trauma, to Japan. I wanted to get her initial insights on her new job.

Joy Portella: Tell me about yourself.

Natsu Nogami: I’m a lawyer and human rights advocate. I’m enrolled in a PhD program at Kyushu University focusing on international refugee and migration law, especially as it impacts children. I’m about halfway done with my degree. In recent years, I’ve worked in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Thailand on a mix of fascinating issues including child labor, labor standards, emergency relief and support for displaced families.

Where were you when the earthquake happened? How did you respond?

I was with my family on Kyushu Island in the south of Japan. We didn’t feel the earthquake at all. But as soon as I heard about it, I wanted to do something. I had worked with Peace Winds in Sri Lanka, so I volunteered to help. I started doing translation and research work in Tokyo, and then was sent to the devastated areas in northern Japan to help deliver humanitarian supplies.

Aren’t you supposed to be finishing your PhD?

I was going to begin my studies again in April but I’m fine with the delay. With all that’s doing on in Japan, now is not the time to study.

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Natsu Nogami (center) of Peace Winds with local youth
outside the Kesennuma evacuation shelter.
Why are you excited about Comfort for Kids?

I’m passionate about working with children and improving their lives. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Playing a leadership role in Comfort for Kids is a great next step. I’m also happy to do this important work in my own country. This is very personal for me.

With so many pressing needs in Japan, why is psychosocial help a priority?

After a big natural disaster, there’s always an urgent need for physical goods like food, water and shelter. But people are also impacted on a deeper level. If a child has a traumatic experience like seeing a tsunami or losing family members, and she doesn’t deal with that trauma, it can impact her in the long term. It can also impact her family and broader society.

What kind of stress or trauma are children facing as a result of the earthquake and tsunami?

Many children living in the cramped conditions of shelters are stressed, and some were traumatized by the earthquake, tsunami, rescue experiences or losing family and friends. Life is also tough for children who’ve been taken in by host families. It’s not typical for Japanese people to live in group settings, and we always feel like we’re imposing on people when we’re in their homes. After a prolonged period of time, that’s very stressful.

Is this kind of program unusual for Japan?

It’s not part of Japanese life to reach out for emotional or psychological help. If you do, it means you’re very sick and there’s too often embarrassment attached to that. But there are more and more people in Japan suffering from depression, especially after an event like this. People need to understand that it’s not just acceptable for them to get help; in many cases, it’s necessary.

Any ideas about how Comfort for Kids will be adapted for Japan?

I have some initial ideas. We want to make sure that getting emotional help feels natural for kids and adults. The approach shouldn’t be that this is formal counseling or an official intervention. Japanese people need to see this as a natural part of life or they might reject it.

Also, this disaster presents unique challenges. People have anxiety because of the earthquake and tsunami, but also the nuclear issue. In addition, there are many elderly people in Japan who are stressed and depressed, and we’d like to incorporate them into the program. I’d also like sports to be included because inactivity, especially in the evacuation centers, is a big problem.

What’s your professional ambition?

I don’t have ambitions. I just want to give what I have. I want to make sure people can live in dignity. I don’t really have a plan for the future; I just do what’s best for the present.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Mon May 16, 2011 5:45 pm

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Starting Comfort for Kids in Japan

By Griff Samples, Mercy Corps technical advisor for Comfort for Kids
April 6, 2011, 6:13 pm

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I haven’t blogged since about this time last year when, in another far-away-from-here country stricken by a similar disaster, I saw destruction and loss just like here in Japan. Yet, my experience and observations in Japan cannot be more different from those I witnessed one year ago in Haiti.

I have been in Japan for five days. I arrived at our program site yesterday. Kesennuma is one of the worst impacted — nay, obliterated — cities on Japan’s north coast. I got a tour of the disaster — we went to one of the coastal areas which had been mixed commercial and residential, and is now a mixture of mud, asphalt, splinters of wood and buildings — and our Peace Winds Japan colleague said there are 500 more kilometers just like this. I asked where the debris will be put (there is not a tradition of landfills here) and no one knew. With 500 kilometers affected, this is a very big, looming question. Japan, after all, is an island with already-limited, densely-populated land.

Walking through the commercial and residential areas of Kesennuma gives both fright and hope. The roads are totally cleared — a Herculean task. It has been more than three weeks since the tsunami washed the sea onto this town. There is a strange calm and order that only adds to this surreal experience. Clean-up crews are clearing what buildings remain, people are venturing into what is left of their homes and businesses and salvaging their possessions; one house had four stacked trunks in front, recovered from inside. The debris is being stacked in orderly piles for removal to somewhere. The sludge and mud from the streets and sidewalks is almost 100 percent is gone. I don't know where it went.

I came here to start up Mercy Corps’ Comfort for Kids program — a psychosocial program aimed to reduce the psychological impact from such trauma to children. From a psychological perspective, the Japanese are a people unlike others I have worked with. Their own cultural values contribute to a very calm situation. Their pain and suffering is not displayed. Yet, these people have lost everything, in some cases, everyone. Their home, their town, their entire way of life has been obliterated. Yet, their immediate concern is on restoring order and clean-up.

In the coming days, we will pilot our training program at a local shelter of 700 people. The community-based approach of moving survivors to schools and using classrooms as temporary shelter is excellent here. There is order, calm, respectfulness and quiet. We visited the shelter around 6 P.M..; it was 48 degrees in the room. People had very tidy stacks of quilts for sleeping. Some have moved in with families in the area, but it is not the tradition here to take people into your home if they aren't family, and homes are very small, so that is not a hugely viable option.

There is an indigenous psychotherapy here called Morita. It includes being able to accept what has happened in order to be able to move on, that decision making is about how to make things better — not emotionally based, it is action-focused; that the event happened to individuals but does not define them. According to Morita, after catastrophic events people shift from strictly regulated patterns to heroic actions.

These brief snips help me see why here is so different than elsewhere. It sounds like a philosophy that could be of added value in any disaster — and we are lucky it's here.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon May 16, 2011 6:14 pm

Theresa. Thank you so much for continuing to post these detailed accounts of what is going on in Japan, the role of the organization our monies will be supporting, the observations of program staff involved. Love hearing about how the culture in Japan is helping them come to terms with this massive tragedy. Truly inspiring. Makes you want to go and help, you know?
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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Mon May 23, 2011 3:11 pm

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Returning to Touhoku

by Malka Older, Team Leader for Mercy Corps' response in Japan
May 13, 2011, 2:38 am

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In the three weeks since I left Japan, the demolished town of Rikuzentakata has changed very little. Where before the wreckage was spread more or less evenly over the broad space that used to be the town center, it has now been pushed, by dint of heavy machinery and thousands of man-hours, into hills, some of them 30 feet high.

In some places the debris have been sorted: wall paneling, twisted metal railings, car after crushed car. In some places the muddy ground is visible. Some of the detritus has probably already been carted away in some of the dump trucks that we pass on the road, but it’s hard to see a noticeable difference. Rikuzentakata remains destroyed, and the violence of its end remains very much in evidence.

Ofunato, 20 or 30 kilometers to the north, is recovering faster. More of the town is perched on the hillsides and escaped the force of the tsunami, although most of the shopping area and the facilities related to the fishing industry were washed away. As we drive in, I’m encouraged to see more shops with the glow of fluorescent ceiling lights showing through their windows. I see at least one big sign: Open for Business on May 14th!

The first group of temporary houses has also just been completed in Ofunato. We drive up to the middle school and walk to the sports grounds behind it, now filled with over 100 neat, pre-fab row houses, complete up to the curtains in their windows. Over the weekend my colleagues at Peace Winds Japan will distribute basic goods, such as futons, kitchen utensils, and towels to the temporary houses, so that their new residents can feel at home immediately after two months in a crowded evacuation center. A few days after that Peace Winds and Mercy Corps will distribute vouchers that can be used at two shops in Ofunato to the evacuees, letting them buy anything additional that they need and supporting the shops as they try to get back to business.

Even in Rikuzentakata there are some hopeful signs. Mercy Corps and Peace Winds are sponsoring a free bus that takes people from the evacuation centers there to Ofunato for shopping, hospital visits, or just to get out for a day. On Monday we’ll be attending the kick-off ceremony for the first mobile shop in Rikuzentakata, which will not only give the shop-owner a chance to restart his business on a small-scale, but will also provide a much needed service to people without cars, since there are currently only two small shops open in the town

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby cindy » Fri May 27, 2011 2:24 pm

Thank you Theresa for all the wonderful work you done with this Birthday Project. I have participated the last few years with what little I can contribute and have felt honored to give in Johnny's name. This year however, I have decided to keep my mney at home and give to those that have lost so much here with the tornadoes and floods. Hopefully I can scrounge a little extra for the work in Japan, but if not, I will set my sights on next years birthday project.
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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Sat May 28, 2011 1:43 pm

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Forty families, forty minutes

by Roger Burks
May 14, 2011, 8:13 am

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Mercy Corps' Roger Burks (left) and Peace Winds'
Mao Sato stand where some of the city of
Rikuzentakata used to be
All along the coast of northeastern Japan, houses and belongings are scattered along beaches. Scraped into piles by earth movers. Hanging in trees. Since the earthquake and tsunami hit this area two months ago, the Japanese government has cleared away most of the wreckage of that disastrous day — but the debris that remains is a reminder of lives that were taken or taken apart.

In devastated cities like Kamaishi, a steel mill town that lost at least 1,250 people to the tsunami, Mercy Corps is working alongside partner Peace Winds to help survivors put their lives and homes back together.

Today, together, we delivered two truckloads of household supplies to temporary housing units in Kamaishi. These supplies included bedding, kitchen utensils, personal hygiene items, cooking tools and clothes — most of the basics to start over after losing everything. And these temporary housing units, built by the provincial government, are giving displaced families the chance to move out of the schools and community centers where they've been staying since the disaster, into a space of their own.

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Remarkably, this temporary housing was constructed in less than a month. That's great news for local survivors, since almost 30 percent of families in Kamaichi were displaced by the tsunami.

Peace Winds and Mercy Corps are putting these household supplies into the temporary homes before families move in. That way, when they arrive, they'll be able to unpack right away and have what they need to begin making this space a home. By many estimates, families will be living in this temporary housing for two to three years, so it's encouraging for them to open the door to such a substantial housewarming gift.

This is the first day that displaced families could move into these particular temporary housing units. While we were taking supplies from the trucks and placing them into each apartment, most of the families hadn't started moving in yet — but 70-year-old Masao Abe and his wife, 63-year-old Kyoko, had been here since mid-morning. They'd heard about the supplies Peace Winds was bringing and were excited to have a look.

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Masao and Kyoko Abe
Since the day after the tsunami, Masao and Kyoko had been living at their daughter's house, which was unaffected by the disaster. Their home and all their belongings were lost to the waves. When the tsunami struck, Masao was at a meeting of retirees from the local steel mill, where he worked most of his life. He felt the earthquake and then got an alert over his cell phone that a tsunami was coming — a warning that doubtless saved thousands of lives around here. Kyoko was at the house with their grandchild, and the two of them quickly headed for higher ground when the alert sounded. Masao, Kyoko and their grandchild were reunited at a local park later that day.

That day — March 11 — was Kyoko's 63rd birthday. When the disaster struck, she and her grandchild were preparing for a party. Kyoko says she can never forget that day, but is thankful for her family's safety.

And today, she and Masao are happy that they have supplies to furnish their temporary space. Masao has already made several trips back to the skeleton that remains of their old house, beginning to clean it in the hopes that, one day soon, he can start to rebuild.

But for now, this is home for Masao, Kyoko and 39 other families from the Kamaishi area. Working together with volunteers and local government staff, Peace Winds and Mercy Corps unloaded the trucks and placed supplies in every temporary housing unit in just 40 minutes' time.

We wanted to make sure that families had those things waiting for them when they arrived — and we sincerely hope that it will make their move a little easier.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Sat May 28, 2011 7:49 pm

cindy wrote:Thank you Theresa for all the wonderful work you done with this Birthday Project. I have participated the last few years with what little I can contribute and have felt honored to give in Johnny's name. This year however, I have decided to keep my mney at home and give to those that have lost so much here with the tornadoes and floods. Hopefully I can scrounge a little extra for the work in Japan, but if not, I will set my sights on next years birthday project.

We give as we can....and there are so many in need these days. I hope you can find a little bit extra for the Zone's Birthday Project, but the important thing is to give wherever you feel led.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby Theresa » Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:25 pm

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Keeping a space safe

by Roger Burks, Senior Writer for Mercy Corps
May 15, 2011, 7:19 am

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I was really excited about today's possibilities for stories here in Japan; we were going to see Comfort for Kids activities in the city of Kesennuma. But, as soon as we arrived at our destination, everything changed.

While I was taking off my shoes in the entranceway of the Kesennuma Middle School gym — which is now being used as an evacuation center in this tsunami-devastated town — one of my colleagues from Peace Winds let me know that we had some pretty strict guidelines: no photographs of children's faces. No video. And no interviews with children would be possible at this particular center.

She told me that, over the two months since the disasters struck, this evacuation center has been especially frequented by journalists wanting to talk to survivors. Every time someone wants to do an interview — and hundreds of reporters have been through here — it takes a survivor back to the shock, grief and trauma of that terrible day and its aftermath. And those feelings can be especially hurtful and harmful for children.

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So families here asked the evacuation center officials to help preserve their privacy. Privacy is a precious commodity around here, since entire families are living in the shared space of a middle school building.

Honestly, it was a big disappointment for me as a writer. But, as a parent, I understand.

If my six-year-old son had been through a disaster or any other crisis, you bet I'd do everything I could to keep him from re-experiencing it. I'd let him have his own safe space to explore and process his feelings, helping him in any and every way I could — including preserving his privacy.

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That's what the Comfort for Kids program is doing here in Kesennuma, as well as other evacuation centers across northeastern Japan. There's a little corner just for children on the sprawling blue tarp covering the gymnasium floor, set up by Peace Winds staff. Stuffed animals, games and other toys sit waiting in boxes that are tipped on their sides to serve as shelves.

In the middle of it all, a Peace Winds art therapist named Fumie Sugawara sits with two first-grade girls, playing a cute game. They laugh together. Fumie smiles and looks them in the eye, letting them know that she's there just for them. Letting them know this is a safe space, just for them.

One of a parent's most important roles is to protect their children. And, here in northeastern Japan, our job as Mercy Corps and Peace Winds aid workers is to give children — and their parents — the space and support to help them heal.

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Re: Birthday Project 2011--Mercy Corps: Our Work in Japan

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:56 pm

Wow, the above post sent chills through me. How very wise they are to define limits, to protect their children. I think all of us remain staggered by what happened in Japan, the sheer enormity of the disaster remains impossible to grasp. Such parallels here to our tornado devastations, and then the very hard things happening in the Middle East. Isn't it just stunning what the world is going through lately? How do we fit in, what can and should we do? I don't believe in random life. All things have a purpose, something to teach, something to illustrate about the meaning of life. I think the global dimension is key. We are ever more connected to each other. Wouldn't it be something to organize a conference that brings together the worldwide experiences of communities who've witnessed horrific suffering. What might be learned, what might change?
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