The Kirarin Kids (KK) in Rikuzen Takada, Iwate Prefecture, has been quite active, very much becoming a highly important partner for diverse activities for children in the area. In collaboration with other NGOs, it held a session on child allergies by inviting an expert in this field. In addition to such public services, they did engage in diverse impressive activities attractive to mothers and children. They organized sessions about baby massages, flea market, mothers’ coffee shop, a puppet show, a visit by a stuffed doll, parents-children exercises, aroma classes, parents-children cooking sessions, KK OG meetings, etc. These activities are really attractive and beneficial to both children and parents. KK seems to be organizing many events very well. The Head of KK was also a presenter about children’s needs in the disaster-stricken area in a conference on childrearing held in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, on September 8 and 9, 2012. Despite such successful operation, they are facing a shortage of work staff, and KK is trying to figure out its future direction. Thus, to make sure that the KK can operate smoothly in the future and hire better paid people, the Niiza Network and the DSIA are exploring better legal alternatives for its organization to change in the near future. And this is becoming a new and next target for its development. The DSIA is also helping to look for some fund for implementing this transformation.
Capability building of KK staffs is now conducted in full gear. The most important part is conducted by the Niiza Childcare Network. Programs are diverse: (1) On July 17, the Network arranged a lecture by a professor from the Kuwansei Gakuin University to discuss about diverse practices of local childcare support in Japan; (2) From Oct. 16, the Head of KK started enrolling in a distant education program to prepare for an examination which officially certifies Childcare Specialist; (3) the Network invited a specialist who can offer a “Nobody is Perfect” training; and (4) the Head of KK visited the Niiza Childcare Network in Niiza City,Saitama Prfecture, to see diverse Niiza facilities and learn about their operations and practices. Naturally, all of these activities are funded by the DSIA, some via the Niiza Network and some directly. KK also conducted computer lessons to mothers in cooperation with NEC, so that they can also start looking for some means to support themselves. KK takes care of children, while mothers are getting computer lessons.
As another dimension of capability building of KK staff, the DSIA was planning to bring professionals from Sophia University in Tokyo to give some public lectures related to human care in the disaster-stricken area. Partly because of limited human resources on the part of KK to organize such public presentations and partly because of professionals’ interest in learning about situations in Rikuzen Takata and providing personal care to those who are in need, the DSIA arranged professionals’ visits in a way that each professional can interact with people in the KK. One type of support for capability building is conducted by the Director of the Institute of Grief Care, Sophia University. She visited KK once to discuss with mothers about the loss of family members. She found that one and a half years after the disaster, many people started having another stage of grief, since they have been pushing themselves hard to overcome their grief and maintain their living. Now, they are relaxed to some extent, but the refreshed memories of their lost ones and difficulties after the disaster are now coming back and are creating a new stage of psychological difficulties. Some mothers started openly, but personally, expressing their feelings and concerns, especially to the Director. Staffs are learning from the behavior of the Director, who talks to mothers in a very natural way, easing their grief and feelings.
In another occasion, one professor specializing in Child Psychology looked for ways to interact with mothers and children by talking to KK staffs one day. He visited the second time to actually interact with mothers and children, finding that KK is providing valuable place for mothers to relax, exchange information, and make friends. He had conversation with a few people, exploring ways for him to provide some psychological counseling. In this process, he also found that the head of KK is overworked and quite tired. He hopes in his second visit to be able to more closely interact with mothers and children, so that we know in a long term what we can do to help to ease psychological problems of people there.
In another occasion, one professor specializing in Child Welfare learned from KK staffs that one child is behaving a little bit differently from other children. He will visit when that child will come to KK to look at the situation and provide some counseling.
The visits of these three professionals from Sophia were to explore potential roles as specialists to provide some help to KK staffs to be able to handle post-disaster situations. There was an immediate appreciation to the grief care specialist, but two other specialists are still exploring ways to provide some kind of counseling at KK. Such help not only gives KK staffs some idea of how to cope with problems in an unusual context of post-disaster, but also gives some prominence of KK in the community by the fact KK’s activities are well supported by professionals.
Since “Kirarin Kids (KK)” moved into a new government-provided temporary shop area, called “Takata Ohsumi Tsudoi no Oka Shotengai,” it is fully in operation with three full-time staff, one helper, and one volunteer. In the opening events on June 2 and 3, 2012, KK invited three character performers from Yokohama and Nara who helped them soon after the Tsunami disaster, and offered diverse activities to children, such as picture-story shows, scooping super balls, etc. A large number of children gathered to enjoy new programs offered by KK.
In addition to regular activities to take care of children, they engage in diverse extra activities to live up children’s daily living. In June, they conducted a lecture on children’s medicine, a concert, aroma lessons, an excursion, etc. They also held special sessions for mothers and fathers separately. Especially the latter is new and important to bring more fathers’ attention to child rearing. In addition to regular activities, they started offering events considered highly important for child rearing presently. Actually, they are offering some new programs which are rather rare to be found in Tokyo.
In July, they newly organized parents-children exercise lessons by inviting an outside lecturer, child counseling sessions by inviting a professional counselor, lessons on baby massage, etc. Despite the busy schedule, they made sure to have some staff training sessions as our “Kirarin Kids” project intends to do. Especially, the Niiza Childcare Network offered several training sessions traveling from Saitama Prefecture to Iwate Prefecture.
In August, though less active due to a summer break, in cooperation with NEC KK plans to offer two-day IT classes for mothers, whose employment opportunities are hoped to be increased. For fathers, they will invite a male childcare professional to teach how to play and dance with children and read stories to them. Again, they are pioneering on newly propagated types of activities.
Given such good programs they offer, they generated good reputation, spreading even outside of Rikuzen Takata. Consequently, they successfully increased the number of members from 49 before the move, to 65 after the move, including some from outside of Rikuzen Takata. Their good reputation also ended up inviting public requests for supporting symposiums, lectures, and shows to be held in Rikuzen Takata. For example, on Saturdays in September, they are requested to support a consulting session on children’s allergy, a symposium on supporting children in disaster-stricken area, a 22 man puppet show, etc.
This success, however, is generating a new problem to them. Members are overworked and started losing time to be with their own children. KK is reaching a critical moment of decision making, whether to reduce their activities or ride on their reputation. But the key difficulty is whether they can have enough funding to have more fully-paid staffs to support such activities. As it is clearly a case of success, a new phase requires more funding and staffs. They have done an excellent work within a short period of time despite difficulties they faced, and thanks to your financial support they managed the present transition fairly well. However, given their new challenges, your future support to KK, enabling them to employ more full-time staffs is highly appreciated. Your contributions may make difference on their future.
The capability building of Kirarin Kids staff by the Niiza Childcare Center was postponed until around the late May, partly due to a Kirarin Kids' move to a new and bigger place constructed by the Rikuzen Takada City Government, and partly because the arrival of a financial support to them from the Japan Disaster Relief Fund Boston was also late to arrive. Despite so, the DSIA already had a few meetings to discuss our training plan with Kirarin Kids' staff and the Niiza Childcare Network. As soon as the move to a new place is completed, we will be starting our training in a little bit smaller capacity, since we could not secure the full amount of support we hoped to have. But for the next six to seven months, we will be engaging in training, arranged by the Niiza Childcare Network with a full speed and capacity. The Sophia University volunteer team will visit Rikuzen Takada around September and October in about three occasions to provide professional training in the fields of grief care, PTSD, and child welfare. We are hoping these professional training to Kirarin Kids's staff provided by the Niiza Childcare Network and Sophia University voluntary team will be of great help to build Kirrin Kids' capability to engage in childcare support in the unusual context of difficulties in disaster-stricken Tohoku.
Dear GobalGiving Donors to Kirarin Kids,
Thank you very much for supporting NPO Kirarin Kids Childcare Support (KKCS) inRikuzen Takada City, Iwate Prefecture. Three people have been operating tosustain their activities, which came to win a Childcare Support Award from theYomiuri Newspaper in November 2011. The DSIA in cooperation with the NiizaChildcare Support Network (NCSN) is trying to build the capability of the NPOKKCS in order to have them serve a bigger area of Iwate Prefecture. We arehoping that they can develop themselves to become the center of childcaresupport in the disaster-stricken Iwate area which requires capability to copewith very unusual children's and parents' (or parent's) psychologicalconditions. A few professors from Sophia University in Tokyo expressed theirwillingness to give special training or talks on their specialization inRikuzen Takada, so that three people in the KKCS can develop the basiccapability to judge about difficult conditions of children. The originaldonation to the DSIA from the GlobalGiving finances these professors to travelto Rikuzen Takada. In order to give more concrete training of childcare supportto KKCS people, I have been trying to raise money to develop a system oftraining, so that NCSN can give training to KKCS people. Now, the Japan DisasterRelief Fund Boston (JDRFB) in Boston informed me to support this activity. TheJDRFB support enables the KKCS to hire a few people to create some extra timefor NCSN people to receive pragmatic training and even conduct administrativeworks for them. We will be discussing the details in the remaining period ofthis month how much and how we will implement, given the present financial limitation.The NCSN is now operating in a new, but a very small space as pictures show,but it seems they will have a decent-size space in a public building, accordingto a new city plan for redevelopment, though it may take for a while beforethey will move to a new place. Supports from you and JDRFB will be an enormoushelp to build their capability to become an excellent child-care center in adifficult condition of the disaster-stricken Iwate prefecture. Thanks to yoursupport, we start seeing a little bit of hope to provide support for the KKCSto develop themselves to become an excellent center of childcare support inIwate Prefecture.
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