Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Emergency Relief

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Emergency Relief (13th Report)
Early Childhood Development(ECD)Kits for the Children of Ishinomaki

[ISHINOMAKI, Japan, 25 March 2011]

© Japan Committee for UNICEF
Naoko Imoto (right) and children playing with Early Childhood Development(ECD)Kits and Recreation kits that were delivered at shelters in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.

On the afternoon of March 23rd, Early Childhood Development(ECD)Kits and Recreation kits arrived at Narita Airport in the first delivery of relief supplies from the UNICEF Supply Division (Copenhagen). The kits were then delivered to children at a shelter set up at Hebita Junior High School in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture in the afternoon of Friday the 25th.

Approximately 590 people, of which around 50 are children, are currently forced to take shelter at Hebita Junior High School. UNICEF education aid expert Naoko Imoto arrived in Miyagi Prefecture this morning, and has been using UNICEF manuals that she personally translated into Japanese to explain the use of children’s assistance kits to the teachers, volunteers and children at the shelter site.

After a stint in Sri Lanka during the country’s civil war, she has been working in Haiti – a country that still bears the scars of devastating damage resulting from a major earthquake, hurricanes, and other natural disasters of January 2010. The situation at the disaster area in northeastern Japan was nevertheless a painful sight even for someone as experienced as Ms. Imoto.

“I had seen the television and newspapers, but the actual situation at the disaster site is more severe that I could have ever imagined.”

“But the children at the shelters were really energetic. Their faces absolutely lit up with joy when I removed the alloy cover of the Kindergarten in a Box kit and showed them what was inside! It made me realize that this was the kind of assistance that they were really waiting for,” spoke Ms. Imoto.

Assistance as necessary as water and food

Following natural and other disasters, children often suffer from stress and fear and require psychosocial care (psychological assistance). UNICEF makes efforts at disaster areas around the world to provide such psychological assistance alongside emergency assistance measures, such as countermeasures to waterborne infectious diseases, sanitation and vaccinations. To ensure the psychological well-being of children, UNICEF has made it a priority to restart school and kindergarten activities and provide opportunities for children to play.

The special kits delivered to the children of Ishinomaki fulfill an important role in providing such psychological assistance. The box (a sturdy alloy case) contains: “Kindergarten in a Box” kits, sets of educational toys for about 50 children that can be used to conduct kindergarten and pre-school activities regardless of location; “Recreation kits,” sets of toys such as sporting goods and stuffed animals for about 90 children; and “School in a Box” kits, sets of teaching materials for about 40 children.

These activities were implemented in Ishinomaki to have teachers and children evaluate whether the content of the kits, which are normally used on-site in developing countries by UNICEF, is appropriate for the current situation and needs of the disaster area in Japan. While continuing to carry out these activities in various areas in the future, the Japan Committee for UNICEF intends to make revisions to the content of kits and orchestrate an assistance plan based on kit distribution.

Current arrival status of relief supplies

Type of Emergency
Quantity Donating
Miyagi Water 19 Mar. 12,288
VanaH Co., Ltd. Two-liter plastic bottles
Fukushima Water 22 Mar. 12,672
VanaH Co., Ltd. Two-liter plastic bottles
Miyagi Underwear for boys and girls 22 Mar. 200,000    
Iwate Underwear for boys and girls 23 Mar. 30,000    
Fukushima Water 23 Mar. 4,680
KIRIN MC DANONE WATERS Co., Ltd. Two-liter plastic bottles
Miyagi Children’s shoes 23 Mar. 10,000
Miyagi RChildren’s diapers 24 Mar. 80 packs P&G Japan  
Iwate Children’s underwear 24 Mar. 9,700    
Fukushima Water 24 Mar. 12,288
VanaH Co., Ltd. Two-liter plastic bottles

*In certain cases some supplies may be taken from prefectural supply storage warehouses and distributed to shelters and disaster sites in other prefectures.
As of 9:00 a.m. on March 25, 2011 (compiled by the Information and Public Affairs Division).