| Oct 22, 2023
Review of the Past Two Years and Looking Forward
In July of 2021, Atami City in Shizuoka Prefecture witnessed a tragic mudslide that claimed the lives of 28 individuals. It took until just last month for many of the evacuees to finally set foot in their homes once more, after a prolonged period of displacement. The desire to return to their residences is strong among the affected populace, but only a small fraction has managed an early return. The reasons are twofold: the considerable delay in initiating home reconstruction and the absence of a concrete recovery plan for the city. In the regions still bearing the scars of the disaster, the formidable challenge lies in rebuilding communities that would encourage residents to return.
In response to the pressing needs of these local communities, we have persistently offered support through various activities. These include food distribution, door-to-door visits, and the establishment of a Kids' Club shortly after the disaster. Our objective has been to cultivate a form of community support that goes beyond mere material aid, emphasizing the development of "person-to-person connections."
We are currently in the third year of our community support program for reconstruction. A noteworthy success has been our Kids Club, which has proven instrumental in revitalizing the local community. Starting with just a handful of children, this club has provided a safe space where kids can articulate their unspoken emotions through artistic expression, storytelling, physical games, and other engaging activities. Over the past two years, these activities have drawn in parents and local volunteers, significantly broadening opportunities for community interaction.
Recently, as we neared the conclusion of our program, a mother of one of the children approached us. She expressed her concerns about the future of the Kids' Club, as it had already been two full years since the disaster, and our project was scheduled to conclude in September. When we reassured her that the Kids' Club would continue on a community-wide scale, her relief was palpable, and she exclaimed, "Thank God...! I was hoping you would still continue it!" Her smile was a testament to the importance of this initiative.
In our third year of supporting the community's reconstruction efforts, we aim to further enhance community cohesion through the Kids Club, fostering connections that transcend generational boundaries. In a region still susceptible to natural disasters, especially during the ongoing typhoon season, we remain committed to nurturing spaces where residents can come together and establish strong ties, who can aspire to be a disaster-resilient community, capable of extending a helping hand and watching out for one another during emergencies.