[MIYAGI, JAPAN, 24 August 2012]
Fuji Kindergarten, located in Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture, was heavily damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The school was able to start temporary classes at the Maniwa Public Hall from 1 August 2011, approximately five months after the disaster. Today, however, the Fuji Kindergarten celebrates the opening of its brand new school building.
Fuji Kindergarten Principal Nobuko Suzuki worked day in and day out to find a solution to the situation her school had found itself in after the disaster. At the beginning of her speech at the opening ceremony for the new Fuji Kindergarten school building she extended a message of gratitude for the assistance received from Maniwa district and the Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU):
"With a location that overlooks the the Abukuma Mountain Range, our new school building has exceeded all of our expectations. More than anything, I strongly feel that the new building is an expression of the will to help disaster-affected children received from people all around the world. It is our duty to exert every effort to make the most of our new school. Students of Fuji Kindergarten, this is your new school. This school is your new home. It is where you will laugh, cry, smile and play, and I want everyone to take advantage of all that the new building has to offer. As we move forward we will never forget the importance of life. Thank you for being here today."
Yamamoto Town Mayor Toshio Saito also expressed his gratitude, saying, "Today, I congratulate you all on the completion of the new Fuji Kindergarten Building. On 11 March 2011, Yamamoto Town was hit with an unprecedented disaster and suffered a significant amount of damage and loss. It goes without saying that it is the children that will support Yamamoto Town moving forward. I pray for the healthy growth of our town's children."
A greeting was also delivered by architects Takaharu and Yui Tezuka, who oversaw the design of Fuji Kindergarten:
"Yamamoto has some of the richest nature in Japan. We are surrounded by truly spectacular mountains that are beautiful to look at. We designed your new kindergarten so that you get a clear view of the mountains. There is also a porch that wraps around the building. I hope that you will use the porch to run and play. I thank everyone for your patience in seeing the school to its completion, and hope that the children will be able to use this building as a place to play and grow."
The teachers of Fuji Kindergarten also expressed thanks for the meaningful disaster prevention and psychosocial care training provided by the Japan Committee for UNICEF.
The children are our future. Today the children of Fuji Kindergarten have been given a new place to play, learn and grow.
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF