Making Easter Baskets!
As a new school semester and fiscal year began in April, children's homes in Tohoku held a series of new-year meetings and parties. Additionally, junior high school children recently took entrance exams for high schools and although many homes have been struggling to study for these exams under their difficult circumstances, a few learning support programs are continuing to show encouraging progress. The following programs have transpired thanks to our tremendous GlobalGiving donor community. The first, a school studies support program that has been running now for 6 months, has received considerable praise from a home in Iwate prefecture. The second program was held at a home in Fukushima prefecture, offering the kids a chance to unwind with a special “Hanami” party along with a learning activity that tapped into their creative talents!
Learning Support --- Iwate Prefecture
This home is located in an area seriously affected by the tsunami. While all of the children and staff were safe, many of their family members, relatives and friends were sadly victims. Since the disaster, Living Dreams has provided this home with material support, camp programs, gifts during the Christmas season, and learning support programs.
As is the case in many children's homes, the decline in academic performance is a serious problem at the home. Many homes tackle this issue with the help of student volunteers from their local universities. This home used to have regular volunteers as well. Since 3/11, as the railway lines remain out of service, their local station is still closed, which made it difficult for them to secure consistent student volunteers. As a result, Living Dreams teamed up with a local cram school and arts program, providing kids with learning programs for those needing to improve basic academic skills, as well as a special calligraphy program for those children who face intellectual disabilities.
As a result, 75% of the children have improved their results, and all 5 junior high school children passed high school entrance tests this past March! Home staff members have also noticed that children are taking more notes in school, which means their focus levels in the classroom are improving! The children who attended calligraphy class were commended for their achievements in front of many people, which truly boosted their confidence. Instructors noticed how the children enjoyed each session, developing a sincere interest in this old tradition.
Easter/Hanami Party --- Fukushima Prefecture
In April, one of our Living Dreams team members organized a group of 35 people including both foreigners and locals, to help host an Easter/Hanami event at a home in Fukushima prefecture.
The morning started off with a two-hour art workshop where they taught the kids how to make and decorate Easter baskets. After the craft session, they had a Hanami lunch outside and played with the kids. During lunch, a group of volunteers hid 400 chocolate/plastic eggs around the home for a post-lunch scavenger hunt. The volunteers also shared a brief Easter PowerPoint presentation for the kids to explain the origins and significance of Easter and how it is celebrated in foreign countries. As this home continues to deal with the impact of the nuclear power plant catastrophe, being able to enjoy outdoor activities is still considered a luxury. Further, simply having volunteers who want to visit their home and share special programs is something the home is incredibly grateful to have for their children.
We thank all of our donors around the world who have truly helped make lives brighter in Tohoku!
Surprise visit from the Easter Bunny!