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Apr 1, 2011

Japan Update: Helping the Littlest Survivors

By: Joy Portella, Mercy Corps of 3 year-old Kokowa
By: Joy Portella, Mercy Corps of 3 year-old Kokowa

Disasters like Japan's earthquake and tsunami devastate and disrupt lives — none more than the lives of children like three-year-old Kokowa.

After the tsunami, Kokowa's family was stuck on the roof of a building for three days. They had to be rescued by helicopter. Now they're living in a local gymnasium with dozens of other families, including 100 other children. Mercy Corps is helping provide food, heaters and other supplies to families — but Japan's ongoing crisis has left Kokowa and her family homeless, unsure of when or how they'll be able to resume their lives.

This disaster has deeply affected thousands of young lives. That's why, alongside our local partner Peace Winds, Mercy Corps is launching our Comfort for Kids program.

Comfort for Kids trains caregivers how to help children through the trauma of disaster. The Mercy Corps team has used this approach in places including Haiti, the U.S. Gulf Coast and China. Comfort for Kids is a priority here in Japan because the continuing stress of aftershocks, combined with grief and loss, make it critical to provide children with emotional support as soon as possible.

We're committed to helping families and businesses recover from this disaster — but it is especially important to bring help and hope to the littlest survivors: children like three-year-old Kokowa. Thank you for your support.

Mar 28, 2011

Response update from Mercy Corps in Japan

Unloading fresh water for evacuees in NE Japan
Unloading fresh water for evacuees in NE Japan

Japan is going through one of the worst -- and most complex -- emergencies in recent memory. An earthquake, tsunami waves and a nuclear crisis have destroyed cities and displaced thousands of survivors. But, with your generous support, we're rushing relief to them alongside our partner Peace Winds.

Here are the latest developments from our emergency response team:

Yesterday, we delivered 510 kerosene space heaters and 80 family-sized emergency tents to survivors who are braving frigid temperatures in northeastern Japan.

In all, the team has distributed the following supplies to families in four disaster-stricken cities:

  • three large shelters that can accommodate up to 100 people
  • 164 smaller tents that hold up to five people each
  • 1,720 blankets
  • 1,210 kerosene space heaters
  • 100,000 medical face masks
  • towels, mattresses, clothing and bottled water
  • 570 blue tarps for additional shelter
  • and food items such as bread, instant rice, apples and oranges.

Next week, we will begin providing post-trauma help to Japanese children using Comfort for Kids, a program that helps children recover from the emotional effects of a large-scale disaster. We've used Comfort for Kids in a variety of emergency responses, including the aftermaths of the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina.

Your support is making a lifesaving difference in the midst of this epic disaster. Thank you for your caring support and commitment to helping people in need.


May 29, 2008

Update from Sichuan Province, 5/29/08

Dear Friends,

As aftershocks continue to strike, including dual tremors that more collapsed more than 400,000 homes earlier this week, Mercy Corps is on the ground assisting earthquake survivors in China's Sichuan Province. After procuring and delivering 22 truckloads of critical supplies — such as water, noodles, milk and shelter items — to displaced families who have lost their homes, we are now coordinating plans for longer-term recovery and reconstruction, and are especially focused on education, counseling and activities for youth.

On Tuesday May 27, a Mercy Corps-coordinated shipment containing nearly three tons of medical supplies for survivors and affected communities arrived in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. This effort, called "Flight of Hope," was made possible by collaboration with Boeing, Shenzen Airlines and Medical Teams International. Upon the cargo's arrival, these supplies were transferred to local health authorities for usage at hospitals and temporary health facilities around the region.

There are also great needs for temporary schools, counseling and other activities for children in earthquake-shattered rural areas.

To serve these needs, we will be helping children and youth recover through our Comfort For Kids and Moving Forward Sports for Youth programs. We are translating "My Earthquake Story" — a variation on the "My Hurricane Story" workbook that was widely used in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — into Mandarin Chinese and adapting it specifically for children in Sichuan Province. Senior-level psychologists, including the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance (CAPA), are working with Mercy Corps on the adaptations, translations and training for local teachers and other caregivers. This workbook is appropriate for children of all ages, from toddlers through older youth. Thousands of copies will be distributed as part of the psychosocial program that we're planning to initiate in affected areas.

Two Mercy Corps youth programming experts have been deployed to China to help begin and implement psychosocial activities. Through its Comfort for Kids methodology — developed with Bright Horizons, the renowned early childhood education company — Mercy Corps has worked with post-trauma children around the world in trying to help them regain some sense of normalcy.

Your generous donations have helped us mount a robust emergency response — and will help us make a difference for youth whose lives have been disrupted by tragedy. Thank you for your support.

Best regards, Roger Burks

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