Summertime is always a great opportunity to provide our Tohoku children's homes with some old-fashioned summer activity fun--offering relief from the school year and also from their distressed communities. Only 17 months post 3/11, children's homes are feeling stronger and spirits are improving every day. This improvement is certainly attributed to special ongoing support programs that are offered to our netowrk of homes--thanks, in large part, to our GlobalGiving donor community. Fall has now arrived in the Tohoku region, but the memories created these past few months still remain strong in the children's minds. Home staff are especially grateful for the support their children have been receiving... it fills all of their hearts to know there is a large community (near and far) helping them in their healing process. Please continue reading on to find a snapshot of several summer 2012 support programs which took place at various Tohoku locations, with an additional profile on a fall program kicking off this month...
Summer BBQ/Outdoor Sports Festival--Fukushima Prefecture
17 English teachers, 15 staff members and 43 children took part in this special outing held at a Fukushima prefecture children's home. Volunteers arrived in the morning, first prepping all of the BBQ meats and veggies, while giving the kids a chance to help out and interact with foreigners. Many of these volunteers have become "regular" visitors at the home which creates a comfortable rapport with the children and provides new experiences for them to open up to adults.
Perfect weather helped ensure plenty of outdoor playtime and since the home had an upcoming dodgeball and softball tournament, the volunteers helped the kids to practice. After working up a good sweat, a water balloon fight ensued and volunteers put out a giant tarp coated with dish soap, creating a 'slip n slide' for kids to enjoy.
Something as simple and easy as a BBQ feast and outdoor sports made for a lot of laughter and high spirits at the home that day.
English Adventure Camp--All Tohoku
This is the second summer several Tohoku homes had an opportunity to participate in a five-day, four-night summer camp outing. The camp provides experiences in nature, outdoor fun activities, and team building skills--all blended in with some English learning in a fun environment!
Held at the National Hanayama Youth's Nature home in Miyagi prefecture, kids had the opportunity to interact with international staff members, all the while practicing their English. Many kids do not have an opportunity to speak English on a regular basis, so it was a great experience for them to do so in a relaxed and fun environment. It was also the first time many kids had been away from the home for as long as five days!
Kids enjoyed and experienced a variety of activities. 'Green Adventure' was a favorite among some campers--where kids were presented questions about the forest and had to search for answers by observing the forest! Climbing was another activity providing children with a chance to overcome a challenge. They climbed onto high places, walked along wooden logs, and climbed up poles. And everyone seemed to get such a kick out of 'stream climbing' - where they walked up and down stream, jumped in and out of the water, and watched one of the camp counsellors climb up a waterfall structure! Kids also experienced some basic "mountaineering" skills--learning how to use a compass to navigate their hike and even participated in a nighttime hike where many fireflies were spotted. Star gazing, campfires, and dips in the onsen rounded out an amazing summer camp adventure for many children.
Mosquito Screens Purchase--Iwate Prefecture
One home in Iwate prefecture required 5 mosquito screens for all of their home's doors and entryways. As they are currently living in a pre-fabricated facility (while their home is under a planned and necessary reconstruction), it was much appreciated that they could easily open their doorways this summer without being bothered by pesky mosquitos.
Exam Cram Tutoring Program--Iwate Prefecture
Beginning this month, a home in Iwate prefecture will begin a five month 'Exam Cram' program for many of their children. Ranging in age from 9-15 years old, these kids will get focused academic tutoring support at a local Exam Cram facility. The home's educational environment has been struggling due to having only one paid tutor for the entire home. Further, their immediate area has no university currently open due to the tsunami disaster and local buses are scarce (with only a few services each day), making it difficult for any university students to consistently make the trek to the home from another town. Therefore, having the funds to put towards sending their children to the academic facility will provide these kids with distinct opportunities to improve their academic skils and situation.
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