Nearly 3 months have passed since 2 large earthquakes shook Kumamoto. On April 19th, and once a month since, I have visited the devastated area; what I found are children still impacted by the tremors which continue even today. For this reason, Crash Japan felt it necessary to include “Kokoro no Care” [Emotional and spiritual support] as a part of its program.
When it was announced that the many daycare facilities and schools that had shut down due to the natural disaster would reopen in May, the Kyushu Christian Disaster Support Centre (KYUKISAI) began intensive and varied programs to help the children integrate back into their school lives. Crash was a part of this support system, and our volunteers visited schools such as the YMCA daycare during the holidays in May. Many of these children had not been able to play freely outdoors since the disaster. It was fun to see the delight on the children’s faces as they responded to the balloon art creations of one of our American missionaries.
KYUKISAI, under the project name “Kumamoto Smile,” continues to support children affected by the earthquake. On May 5th―Children’s Day in Japan―Crash volunteers, all licensed kindergarten and nursery school teachers, planned a sports day at Mifune-machi. More than 60 children took part, revelling in the vigorous activities of a traditional Japanese sports day.
Kumamoto Smile’s second project was an excursion sponsored by Yahoo Auctions to watch a baseball game. Pro baseball player Dennis Sarfate from the Softbank Hawkes extended a special invitation to the children to come and see him play. On May 7th, children from Mashiki-machi alongside parents and numerous volunteers, went to cheer on the Hawkes in Fukuoka’s “Yafuoku Dome.”
Prior to the game, Sarfate and his teammates surprised the children by coming out to interact with them. Sarfate, a Christian himself, presented every child with a wristband engraved with the words “My heart trusts in the LORD and He helps me.” (Psalm 28:7). The Hawkes had a phenomenal win! And all the children headed home with smiles on their faces.
The third project is scheduled for the 30th of July. KYUKISAI and Crash have put their heads together again to produce the “World’s Most Fun Science Fair.” At Tobu YMCA, guests from NPO “Galileo Kobo” [Galileo’s Workshop] will put on a science show for the children. Galileo’s Workshop is experienced in working with children in the disaster of Tohoku since 5 years ago, and we are happy to collaborate with them in Kumamoto.
These events, in addition to being lots of fun, give volunteers a chance to come alongside children who have been traumatised and help mitigate the psychological effects of the disaster. They also provide great stress relief for the parents, many of whom have said “It’s so great to see our kids smiling again.”
We are grateful for the opportunity that these events provide. None of this would be possible without your continued support and prayers.