[YAMAGATA, JAPAN, 25 April 2012]
Letters written by children in the Republic of Korea have been delivered to Fukushima children and mothers temporarily living in Yamagata Prefecture. In Yamagata City, the Takiyama Cultural Centre hosts a monthly "Salon in Takiyama", a networking event held since September 2011 by the Yamagata Child and Family Care Circleland for mothers with primary school age children who have evacuated Fukushima Prefecture. The event is organized to allow parents from Fukushima to network and share information about school and living, while also discussing the many worries spawned from living apart from their husbands and raising their children alone. The event aims to alleviate some of the stress that this situation puts on the mothers.
On 25 April the Salon participated in the Tegami Project. As the event was held during school hours, the primary school students were given their letters by their mothers later that day at home.
When the staff handed over the large blue box of letters from Korean children to the mothers, the smaller children who had come along for the event scooted closer in fascination. Taking one of the letters out of the box, one of the children screamed in excitement, "Wow, look at this! This is cool!" The mothers carefully read each individual letter. One mother, impressed, noted, "They really took their time in drawing pictures and writing these." Another mother added, "I wonder if the use of bright colours is intentional, in hopes to lift our spirits." The inspiring letters from the Korean children created a warm atmosphere for the event.
One of the mothers told us, "It was nice to see on television that assistance was being received from overseas, but I got a much different feeling of gratitude after receiving the letters." Another parent added, "I was so happy to read the letters—I was genuinely moved. I plan put them on display at home where I can always see them."
The children will write responses to their new friends in Korea and give them to their mothers to bring to the next Salon event scheduled for May.
The Japan Committee for UNICEF will continue implementing the Tegami Project, using letters to connect the children of the Tohoku region with children from around the world.
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF