Providing you with a quick snapshot of what's happening in five hotspots around the globe -- where your generous support is literally helping people cope with and recover from disasters and crisis situations. Thank you and please continue to stand by us as we respond to multiple disasters around the world.
[caption id="attachment_7560" align="alignright" width="297" caption="Children at Melkadida refugee camp in Ethiopia, where some 76,000 of the refugees fled into the border town of Dolo Ado due to the current drought in Somalia. ©2011 Gebregziabher Hadera/World Vision"][/caption]
The first UN-declared famine of the 21st century, caused by a convergence of political strife, drought, and increasing global food prices, is affecting more than 12 million people in four countries in the Horn of Africa: Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. More than 30,000 children from Somalia alone have perished of acute malnutrition and other related illnesses during the past three months, and hundreds of thousands have fled into refugee camps scattered throughout the region. Forecasters expect the drought to continue until December, so millions more are at risk.
To add to the misery of Somalis suffering in the drought, an epidemic of cholera has begun ravaging survivors in the Mogadishu area.
Three months ago on Saturday, a deadly earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan killed more than 14,700 people, leaving the country's northeastern coastline devastated. Our colleagues in Japan have spent the weeks and months following the disaster organizing and implementing a full response plan, supported by the World Vision global partnership.
As part of an international initiative to encourage quake survivors and those involved in relief efforts, children around the world who are supported by World Vision sponsors in Japan send their love and prayers. Children and sponsors in Japan's tsunami zone have since received drawings, cards, and origami art messages from sponsored children in El Salvador, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mongolia, Kenya, China, and Ethiopia.
This post is a collection of those messages, gathered with the help of World Vision field communicators in each of the above countries.
To our colleagues and those affected by the disaster in Japan -- we continue to pray that God's comfort and provision would be with those who need it most, and that survivors will continue to heal physically and emotionally as they rebuild from the rubble.
Last year’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was all-consuming for a time, dominating the news and mobilizing compassion from all corners of the world. During those first few months, it was hard to imagine that Haiti’s suffering could fall off the radar.
But shortly after Haiti’s one-year anniversary came fresh disasters—New Zealand’s earthquake and Japan’s quake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. Scenes of destruction in formerly functional cities, tragic stories, and the threat of radiation riveted media attention and provoked fears that something this bad could happen to us. (And then it did, with last month's killer storms and tornadoes in the U.S. South.)
Some humanitarian disasters occupy a few days worth of headlines -- if that -- and then quickly become a distant memory, if they're remembered at all.
The Japan quake and tsunami, in my opinion, has been the opposite. On March 11, we were instantly exposed to a flood of media coverage on the devastation in northeast Japan and the gravity of the nuclear crisis created by the crippled power plant. That coverage didn't subside much in the weeks to follow. On some level, the headlines and news clips about this historic natural disaster seem to have rendered the crisis more of an ongoing suspense film than a real-life story about human suffering.
One month after the disaster, I must remember to view the events in Japan in the latter context. Some 31 days since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, there are still thousands homeless, still thousands missing, and still thousands who must rebuild their lives from the rubble that this tremor has left behind. This isn't a movie or television program that I can turn on or off based upon my level of interest. The people of Japan certainly can't.
To that end, World Vision is still there -- and we will be, for the days, weeks, and months to come, helping children and families recover a sense of normalcy, stability, and independence. Japan's tragedy may eventually fade from the 24-hour news cycle, but our commitment will not. Check out the updates below on what we've done so far, and what we have planned over the long term.
Editor's note: In the aftermath of tragedy and disaster, World Vision uses Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) to care for children by providing them with a safe place to learn, play and emotionally recover from the trauma they've faced. (For more on how we use CFS, read Freedom of imagination) The following was shared with us by Nanako Otsuki, communications officer with World Vision Japan.
Zenin syugo, meaning "everyone gathering together", is the name children in Tome City have come up with for their new playing ground, a World Vision CFS. The name fits perfectly for its purpose, providing children with a venue to come together and share their experiences as they begin the road to recovery.
All the children come from Minami Sanriku, a town that was almost completely destroyed by the tsunami. Right now, they're living in an evacuation center. They don't know when classes will start again; most of their schools were destroyed. Most of them have lost their homes, and many have loved ones who have been confirmed dead. They seek a sense of normalcy after having their lives turned upside down.
"What I want to do"
In the first gathering here, World Vision’s Child Protection Specialist, Makiba Yamano, and other World Vision Japan staff sought to hear the voices of the children. The children wrote down what they wanted to do at the CFS on a piece of paper and made their favorite figure with origami paper.
“I want to play a piano!!” (Minaho, age 12)
“I want to play soccer with eight people.” (Rin, age 8 )
“I want to play cards with other friends.” (RIe, age 12)
“I want to play baseball with everyone.” (Takahiro, age 11)
"What makes me worried"
The children also wrote down “what makes them worried” and shared their experiences with one another.
“I wonder if I can go to the same junior high school with my old friends.” (Shiori, age 12)
March 29, 2011- It’s 7:00 am, an aftershock shakes the building awake. It's big, lasts for maybe 30 seconds. Even two weeks after the quake and tsunami, tremors and ripples continue to wreak havoc and remind survivors of their fears and losses. I’m in Miyagi, one of the hardest-hit areas, with World Vision’s emergency response team. We’re....
Sachie is the mother of one year and four month old Kouka. She told World Vision Japan about the day when earthquake occurred. This is her story: “Kouka was having a nap in the house when the earthquake occurred. I took Kouka right away and ran out side, but the earth was shaking for quite a long time." ....
In the last week in Japan, over 7,000 people have died. Close to another 11,000 are missing. Over 2,500 suffer from injuries. We all want to help. But it’s the wanting to help that’s the easy part. It’s how best to help, that is the real question. Sometimes our good intentions....
Editor’s note: The following note is from Mitsuko Sobata, World Vision Japan communications and advocacy officer, on the ground with World Vision relief and assessment teams.
March 18, 2011- Yesterday, World Vision Japan relief teams .....
In partnership with World Vision U.S., a group of professional football players is in Uganda this week doing humanitarian aid work with PROS FOR AFRICA. The athletes become pros 4Japan, too, helping to raise funds and awareness for children affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan
The players are asking people at home....
I cannot begin to explain the enormous blessing corporations and partnerships are to World Vision's work. Through programs like workplace giving, matching gifts, employee volunteer activities...
The following notes are from Mitsuko Sobata, World Vision Japan communications and advocacy officer, on the ground with World Vision relief and assessment teams. March 17, 2011- Today, our relief items arrived with two trucks with diapers, blankets, water and wet wipes....
With the ever-growing, constantly moving, never sleeping media environment we live in today, kids are some of the first to see or hear about tragedy and disaster around the corner, or around the world. But as kids are exposed more and more to disturbing news footage....
Emergency communications officer with World Vision U.S. Casey Calamusa was deployed to Japan 38 hours after the massive 8.9-magnitude quake on Friday, March 11. I chatted with Casey on Skype last night. Thanks to those of you who tweeted in questions. Here's what he had to say....
If the Japan earthquake and tsunami had happened 100 years ago, most of us would not even be aware that it had happened. Perhaps a telegram would have been sent to the U.S. and perhaps a small story might have appeared in major newspapers, but other than that, it would have had little effect on our consciousness...
The latest updates on World Vision's efforts and response following Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan and triggered a devastating tsunami. Two ways to donate to Japan quake and tsunami relief -- Text '4JAPAN' to '20222' to give a $10 donation. Or donate online. For updates....
An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit near the northeast coast of Japan today. Pacific Rim countries are bracing for potential tsunamis. World Vision staff members are on high alert, preparing to respond.
Staff on high alert across region, preparing for response: Asian, North American, and South American countries on the Pacific Rim are facing tsunami...