May 13, 2011

JEN reports that temporary housing is being built in the city of Ishinomaki. There are currently more than 22,000 people living in evacuation centers there, so there is an urgent need for housing. During the Golden Week holidays, JEN was able to provide an average of 100 volunteers a day to help remove sludge and deliver household items to more than 100 new temporary homes. Each home received dishes, teapots, bedding, and other items.

The Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA)—a member of Japan Platform—held a special event to help celebrate Children’s Day (May 5th). The event was held at a community center in Kesennuma (Miyagi Prefecture) that had served as an evacuation center up until April 17. The evacuees have since moved to other centers. On this day, SVA served hot meals and let kids participate in an “all-you-can-grab” pencil giveaway, arts-and-crafts projects, English lessons from a Canadian SVA volunteer, and the raising of the koinobori (flying carp banners that symbolize Children’s Day in Japan). Mothers watching their kids grab for the pencils were heard to say, “With all of those pencils you grabbed, you must study hard. Pencils are valuable now, you now.” The meal service also offered an opportunity for neighbors to reunite since many are now scattered around the city in different shelters. Bringing neighbors together helps them collaborate and move forward.

One Japan Platform member, KnK (Children without Borders), has been working for more than a decade to support disadvantaged youths in Asia and encourage international friendship. As part of that effort, it has been conducting a “5-yen campaign” to educate Japanese youth on how a little money can make a big difference for a child abroad, while at the same time teaching them about the children they are helping and letting them send a message of friendship. Now, KnK’s branches in the Philippines and Jordan have launched similar campaigns to help children in the Tohoku region.