How Disaster-affected Children Are Living “Today”
“I lost a lot of precious people and things such as family, friends and a home, but since the earthquake, I have learned about the kindness of people and how tough it is to keep living. Now I can feel grateful about everything.”
Recently, we received such messages from high school and college students who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The messages are part of the essays we received from scholars of Civic Force’ s “Dream Support Project,” which supports students in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures with scholarships and support programs.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and the ensuing tsunami inflicted enormous damages, including over 18,000 people dead or missing. As many parents lost their children, many children also lost their loved ones including their parents, relatives and friends.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of bereaved children and orphans who lost one or both parents in the earthquake totaled 1,723 as of 2012. These children must adapt not only to changes in their home environment but also to changes in their study environment, such as familiar school buildings destroyed and left unrepaired as well as school grounds being used for temporary housing. In particular, many children have been forced to evacuate from some areas of Fukushima Prefecture, which has been affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Reconstruction of schools, which are the core of each local community, and mental health care of children are major issues that must be addressed together with the reconstruction of the disaster-affected regions as a whole.
Three and a half years have passed since the earthquake. In this Monthly Report, we will portray how children in Tohoku, are facing forward and proactively tackling new challenges “today” while carrying the burden of the memories of “that day.”
During the summer holidays in August, Civic Force held a three-day hands-on training in Tome City and Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, and a networking event for the scholars of the “Dream Support Project” in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. We will also report on these events in this issue.
In addition, we will report on the relief activities for the landslide disaster which occurred in Hiroshima Prefecture in August, a joint disaster drill held in Aichi Prefecture on National Disaster Prevention Day, and the “Jinseki-Kougen Tour” held in Hiroshima Prefecture for residents of Fukushima who are planning to relocate.
Please be informed that the Monthly Report, which has been published on the 11th of every month following the earthquake, will be discontinued after this issue and our next report will be released as a newsletter in December. Please refer to page 4 for more information.