Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Emergency Relief

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Emergency Relief (105th report)
Thank-you messages from the affected areas received in response to the UNICEF Children’s Mini Library

[TOKYO, JAPAN, 1 September 2011]

People delivering children’s books to the UNICEF House.

On 25 March, directly following the disaster, the UNICEF Children’s Mini Library project was officially launched. As a part of efforts to create Child Friendly Spaces, the project was started in order to deliver children’s books donated from people across Japan to children in the affected areas. Despite a relatively short campaign period of about 10 days, the amount of children’s books received from areas across Japan greatly surpassed initial expectations. We would like to thank everyone for their sincere support.

Children’s books donated from across Japan.

A large number of volunteers assisted in carefully sorting the picture books, kami shibai (Japanese picture card stories) and children’s books, and deliveries to the affected areas commenced in early April. As of 1 September, more than 260,000 books have been delivered to over 2,000 locations. Children’s books donated by generous individuals across Japan are now helping to bring smiles to the faces of children in the disaster areas.

Volunteers sorting books.

As Japan approaches the half-year mark since the disaster, the Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU) continues to receive requests for children’s books from various affected areas as well as letters of gratitude on a daily basis. JCU has received compassionate letters and telephone calls, and these have encouraged us to keep our efforts going. Below we introduce a portion of the messages that we have received from children and parents in affected areas that continue to face harsh circumstances.

“The books arrived today. We didn’t think that we would receive so many books, and we are very grateful. My daughter is already in her own world playing with the stickers while she hums children’s songs. She looked so happy as she one by one took each book out of the box. I intend to take our time in reading each one of these precious books to her. And when she grows up and has children of her own, I plan to give these books to my grandchildren as a present. Thank you so much.”

“We received the books today. Thank you very much! Thank you for sending them so quickly after we sent in our request. The children are so happy. You should have seen the sparkle in their eyes when we opened the big cardboard box. It brought me such joy as a parent to watch. Thank you. Rest assured that we will take our time in reading all of these wonderful books.”

“We have just received the large box of books! My two and a half year old daughter was so happy. She stares at them everyday, and we spend time together reading one book before bed and one before her afternoon nap. Our home was partially destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami. But without that experience we would have continued to take our affluent lifestyle for granted and I don’t think that I ever would have noticed the more important things in life. When the uncertainty of everyday life seemed like it was going to get the best of me, the thing I wanted more than anything was to see children’s toys and books. I think I wanted to experience the rich, hope-filled world and happiness that children’s books produce. This letter is getting long, but these children’s books save children and adults alike. Thank you so much. We will take very good care of them.

Thank-you letters received by JCU.

““We received a large number of books. Thank you very much. With the repeated aftershocks, the radiation problem and the issue of harmful rumors, we have been living with a great deal of anxiety. But with these books presented us with a warm sense of encouragement and compassion, and this has motivated us to never give up!”

“Thank you for so many books. The children were so pleased and looked happy as they discussed which ones to read first and as the eldest child read the books to her younger brother. The eldest even asks if she can invite her friends over, which brings a smile to even my face. This is physical proof that the kind generosity of people across Japan has truly spread to the children. Thinking about the future reminds me of the uncertainty that lies before us, but I will keep my head up and make sure that this assistance is put to good use.”

“The children’s books and picture books arrived! We opened the box immediately and my daughter shouted for joy! After the disaster, my daughter was scared of aftershocks and had been going out of her way to help me with cleaning and other things, so I was happy to see her innocent smile after not seeing it for so long. When I told her that people had sent the books out of goodwill, she told me that she would carefully read them one at a time. She even reads them to my sixth month old son. This is the first time we have been able to do this since the disaster. I intend to make up for lost time by reading to my son and valuing the time time I spend with my children.”

“Thank you for sending the books so quickly. Here in Sendai schools have officially been reopened. We will take great care to read these books every day, little by little. I haven’t even read many of these books, so I am looking forward to reading them with the children. Thank you very much.”

“I shared the books with other children in our neighborhood and they were ecstatic! Thank you so much!”

“Our home was slightly cracked and some of the exterior has been damaged, but we are all alive and well. I applied to receive books because I wanted to read more and more books to my sons who love reading.”

“We have received two sets of children’s books. Even the nursery staff cheered when they saw the large selection of books inside the box. I plan to actively incorporate them into classes at the preschool and put them in the nursery room so that children can always read them. Thank you for taking the time to think of us.”

On 23 August, a UNICEF Children’s Mini Library was set up at the Child Friendly Space “Futaba Square” at the former Kisai High School in Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture.

“Thank you for sending us a UNICEF Children’s Mini Library. Many houses were destroyed and lives lost in Natori City as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and over the past several months people have learned how to survive while forced to bear such sadness. We live everyday as usual but sometimes the children talk about the earthquake. We are so happy to receive this grand gesture of generosity. I am sincerely grateful that my children can now just reach out, grab a book and enjoy the fun and happiness that now only books can provide.”

“We have just received the books. The children were so overjoyed by the arrival of the large amount of books that they set up their own UNICEF Children’s Mini Library in the corner of their room! They enthusiastically tell me that they want to lend the books to their friends. We cannot thank you enough. We will take great care of these books.”

Initially, there were two types of sets of books. However, JCU has already delivered all of its stock of books targeting infants to six year olds to children in the affected areas. JCU is currently accepting requests for sets of children’s books targeting children between the ages of 7 and 14.
Click here for more information »

All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF

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 Children’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
Iwate Shoes 26 Mar. 1,404 pairs Achilles Corporation  
Iwate Underwear for boys and girls 27 Mar. 28,266  
Iwate Boots 27 Mar. 7,462 pairs  
Iwate Wipes 28 Mar. 1,200 P&G Japan For babies
Miyagi Recreation kits
Early Childhood Development kits
2 Apr. 50 of each Procured from the UNICEF Supply Division
Iwate Recreation kits
Early Childhood Development kits
2 Apr. 50 of each Procured from the UNICEF Supply Division
Miyagi Book bags 6 Apr. 70 Nihon New Bag Chain
Iwate Book bags 6-7 Apr. 340 Seiban
Miyagi Schoolbags 8 Apr. 18,000 Procured from the UNICEF Supply Division
Iwate Schoolbags 8 Apr. 18,000 Procured from the UNICEF Supply Division
Miyagi Personal security buzzers (for crime prevention purposes) 8 Apr. 5,000
Iwate Personal security buzzers (for crime prevention purposes) 8 Apr. 5,000
Miyagi Minicar 8 Apr. 3 cars
Miyagi Nutritional supplements From early April 4,000 bottles
Fukushima Water 11 Apr. 1,536 bottles VanaH Co., Ltd. Two-liter plastic bottles
Miyagi Replenishments for recreation kits 12 Apr. 60 sets
Miyagi Miniature toy cars 12 Apr. Approx. 1,200 TAKARA TOMY
Sagamihara* Water 12 Apr. 12,288 bottles VanaH Co., Ltd. Two-liter plastic bottles
Miyagi Play mats 13 Apr. Two types; 80 of each type IKEA
Miyagi Drawing sets 13 Apr. 60 sets IKEA
Iwate Preschool-size chairs, tables and low tables 14 Apr. 75 chairs; 11 tables; 9 low tables Donated to preschools, primary schools, junior high schools and high schools in the disaster area as well as their new locations
Miyagi Mopeds 15 Apr. 5
Iwate Notebooks and stationery sets for primary and junior high school students 15. Apr. 16,700 sets
Fukushima Notebooks and stationery sets 16 Apr. 390 sets
Miyagi 183 computers; 57 copiers and fax machines; 61 printers 18-21 Apr. Distributed to preschools, primary schools, junior high schools and high schools in the disaster area as well as their new locations
Fukushima Movable blackboards 21 Apr. 10
Fukushima Temporary toilets 22 Apr. 20
Iwate Geiger counters 28 Apr. 14 For schools in Soma City
Iwate Dressing room/ breastfeeding partition system 29 Apr. 21 sets
Saitama* Milk From late April Shelter in Futabamachi, Kazo City
Saitama* Yogurt From early May Danone Japan Shelter in Futabamachi, Kazo City
Iwate Color pencils (120 sets) and paint (240 sets) 13 May
Iwate Student lamps 14 May 15
Iwate Stationery sets 16 May 840 sets
Fukushima Lockers 16 May 22 sets For the Board of Education of Minamisoma City
Fukushima Computers 16 May 1 Ishikawa Town Board of Education
Miyagi 2 copiers; 2 computers; 2 printers May For Higashi-Matsushima Day-Care Center and Watari Day-Care Center
Iwate Water receiving tank, water purifier tank, water supply tank May construction
Miyagi Solar-powered vaccine refrigerator 18 May
Fukushima Fans 30 May 112 Minamisoma City Board of Education
Fukushima Masks 30 May 100,000 Minamisoma City Board of Education
Iwate 1 copy machine 2 June Preschool
Miyagi Rain coats 4 June 1,000
Saitama* Shoes 15 June 460 pairs Converse Footwear Co., Ltd.
Fukushima Fans 21 June 21 Minamisoma City Board of Education
Miyagi Jerseys for teachers and windbreakers for students (various sizes) June Akashi Hifuku Kogyo Co., Ltd Junior high schools in Kesennuma City (6 schools)
Miyagi Used digital piano June 1
Miyagi Digital scale 6 July 200 Ishinomaki City Offices
Miyagi Fans 6 July 5
Miyagi Child-size tables and chairs; toys 22 July IKEA
Iwate Candles for events 23 July
Iwate Wall-hanging fans 1 August 200
Iwate Recreation kit replenishments Regular
Fukushima Fans 2 August 95 Minamisoma City Board of Education
Miyagi Hand sterilizer 3 August 4,680 Lion Corporation Preschools, etc.
Miyagi Antibacterial freshener 3 August 3,600 Magnet Corporation; Antimicrobial Technology Co., Ltd.; Jutech Corporation; Clean Techno Co., Ltd.; Mitani Valve Co., Ltd.; HY Corporation Preschools, etc.

-Number of UNICEF Children’s Mini Libraries distributed: Approximately 240,000 books to over 1,900 locations (as of 4 August 2011).
-Number of children that have participated in the UNICEF “Let’s Play! The Outdoors Playtime Project” in Fukushima Prefecture (including planned numbers): More than 31,000 (as of 4 August).

*Areas receiving disaster victims.

*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 4 August 2011 (compiled by the Information and Public Affairs Division).