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This month we bring you:
- Japan Tsunami Update
- Radiation Dangers Affect Daily LIfe
- Responses to Families' Needs
- Gratitude & Resilience
JAPAN TSUNAMI UPDATE
It’s been a year since the devastating tsunami in Japan. In last April’s eNews, we provided you with a description of how the Japanese tsunami children were being cared for, including 3 videos.
This year, we’ll take a look at how children and their parents are faring during this recovery period.
2011 Tsunami Statistics
- 387,000 people displaced by the tsunami
- 19,447 people dead or presumed dead
- 299,692 homes damaged or destroyed
- More than 400,000 people evacuated
- 1,567 children lost one or both parents
- 7,524 schools were damaged
2012 Update: Housing and schooling accomplishments are significant
- 25,751 children are attending new schools
- 337,819 people are living in temporary housing
- Only 613 are still living in evacuation centers
The most important message is that recovery will take many years.
RADIATION DANGERS AFFECT DAILY LIFE
Save the Children spoke with 61 parents and children in an effort to understand the current situation for children & parents from the Fukushima region. Here is a very brief summary.
Before the tsunami, children and families spent considerable time outdoors playing—at the beach and in the sand, playing in the bushes in the nearby forest, and in the snow. Parks and school yards were all familiar territory for many children and adults in this region. They were locations for family get-togethers as well as playing with friends. In the post tsunami world, everyone is now very distrustful of the natural world surrounding them.
Now, even the youngest children have some awareness that radiation exposure can be bad for them. Fukushima City has a relatively high radiation level, and parents report children as young as 7 no longer comment on the beauty of the fields or pastures, even on TV. Mothers commented that when they take their kids outside to play, kids often ask, “Isn’t there any radiation here?”
Parents would like access to safe environments for their children to play outdoors & indoors. While some parents are able to take their kids on weekend trips to “safe” natural environments, most find the expense & logistics difficult to manage. These parents are hoping they are making the best decisions for their children.
RESPONSES TO FAMILIES' NEEDS—SAVE THE CHILDREN & THE RED CROSS
In response to the children’s needs for safe outdoor playing, Save the Children organizes weekend hiking and camping trips to safe areas of the countryside that provide children with chances to play outside with friends.
Save the Children and other organizations are building community centers, so children in temporary housing can play in a safe environment and families can have a place to visit with one another. They have also instituted a mobile library program that has reached over 29,600 children, and are providing grants to PTA’s and local partners.
Save the Children has helped re-establish child care centers. They train child care workers to recognize signs of recurring stress or anxiety in the children, and to be able to support each other as caregivers who are themselves dealing with their own losses and emotional stress. Over 1000 high school students have received scholarships to continue their studies & vocational training. Schools are receiving transport for students, school materials & supplies, as well as contributions to school lunches.
They continue their child protection work by helping schools develop disaster risk reduction programs—including preparedness, early warning systems, resilience building and adaptation.
In this first video, you can see children in their protective hoods going through a disaster drill, and listen to a little boy talk about why he likes these drills.
The second video on that page is from the Red Cross showing their relief and health services delivered in this last year, these include:
- Providing more than 316,000 survivors with necessary appliances for their temporary housing, including refrigerators, washing machines & rice cookers
- Supporting the construction of 4 temporary hospitals, one permanent hospital & a community health clinic
- Rebuilding a Red Cross nursing school to train specialists in disaster medical care
- Mobilizing more than 161,000 volunteers
- Treating more than 87,000 patients, in 92 Japanese Red Cross hospitals
GRATITUDE & RESILIENCE
The last scene in that Save the Children video is of a classroom filled with children who are bowing to the camera and saying “Arigato gozaimashita!” This means, “Thank you very much!” Again and again, the Japanese people have expressed their gratitude for the generosity of donors around the world who have made these services possible through Save the Children, the Red Cross, and many other disaster response nonprofits.
With so many tsunami survivors under great stress, living in temporary housing, and dealing with the unknowns of radiation exposure, it’s important for us to remember the resilience of all people.
One of our greatest human characteristics is our ability to recover and build new lives. We close with a video of 7 year old Ami and her mother sharing their tsunami experiences, and where they are one year later.
About Polly Klaas® Foundation
The Polly Klaas® Foundation is a national nonprofit dedicated to the safety of all children, the recovery of missing children, and public policies that keep children safe in their communities.
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