By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
From ChildFund Japan, one of our ChildFund Alliance partners, comes a touching video about how the seaside city of Ofunato is recovering from the deadly earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011. “The Garland of Smiles,” which focuses on ChildFund’s people-centered approaches to healing and rebuilding, is nearly 22 minutes long, yet if you are interested in seeing what has happened in the aftermath of the tsunami, it’s well worth viewing.
More than 15,000 people in Japan died as a result of the disaster, and as we see in the video, numerous homes and buildings were destroyed, forcing as many as 8,000 people in Ofunato to live in temporary housing. It’s in this makeshift community where we meet ChildFund Japan project manager Yoshikazu Funato, who oversaw many initiatives to bring back some normalcy to children and adults.
ChildFund Japan, which normally assists children and families in the Philippines and Nepal, had to focus its energy inward after the disaster. With financial support from other ChildFund Alliance members, including ChildFund International, ChildFund Japan concentrated its activities in Ofunato because outside support was less available there than in other stricken areas. Beginning its work in the weeks after the earthquake and tsunami with a variety of volunteers and staff, ChildFund completed its projects in March 2013.
In preparation for the rebuilding, Funato and others conducted a door-to-door survey to see what Ofunato’s residents wanted and needed most. Some projects were small — building wooden benches in the temporary communities to promote socializing — while others were more ambitious, like providing grief counseling to preschoolers and creating a collective farm that keeps residents supplied with healthy food.
As a result of ChildFund Japan’s work throughout the past two years, some residents in temporary housing became invested in the improvements, from working at the farm to taking part in a residents’ association.
As you’ll see in the video, Ofunato has undergone a transformation in the past 24 months — not just physically but in attitude as well.
By Cynthia Price, Director of Communications
We just heard from our colleagues at ChildFund Japan. They’ve had a busy week distributing emergency goods in the three prefectures (states) where they have committed to help – Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima in the Tohoku Region.
On Thursday at 5 a.m., a 3-ton truck left Tokyo, and within 12 hours the emergency supplies had been delivered to evacuation centers in Natori and Sendai cities. ChildFund Japan is coordinating directly with these city governments for the most efficient distribution of goods.
Supplies included masks, propane gas, diapers, powdered milk, rice, canned food, noodles and seasoning.
The CEO of ChildFund Japan shared in a radio interview how ChildFund Alliance members, including ChildFund International, have sent a warm message that tells them, “We are with you! Let us overcome this difficult time.”
Thank you to all of you who have donated to help Japan through the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It’s not too late to make a contribution, as we are continuing to raise funds and have committed to at least a one-year response to this disaster.