Three years ago today, the strongest earthquake ever to hit Japan and the subsequent tsunami devastated its northeastern coastal communities, killing more than 15,000 people.
Coincidentally, this weekend will mark three years since the start of the Syrian crisis that continues to impact millions of lives in the Middle East and beyond.
These notable anniversaries — both devastating — depict a marked difference between what the humanitarian world refers to as “slow-” versus “sudden-” onset emergencies.
When Teerasak's home in Thailand flooded, his world was turned upside-down. Now, at a World Vision Child-Friendly Space, he and 40 other children have found a place where they can learn, play, talk about their experiences, and simply be kids again.
On May 12, 2008, I had plane tickets that less than three weeks later were to take me from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, and then on to Chengdu, China, the capital of Sichuan province in the southwestern region of the country. But that day, a massive earthquake struck Sichuan.
And just this past Saturday, another one hit.
The civil war in Syria has entered its third year, and the number of refugees fleeing the country has doubled in the past three months.
Today's post -- the third in our series about the crisis -- offers a list of the most frequently asked questions to offer our readers some background to the growing humanitarian needs.
Last time I flew into Haiti, I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s "The Old Man and the Sea." I finished it just as the plane hit the tarmac of the broken-down Port-au-Prince airport. As I closed the book, I looked up and realized why it had resonated. The protagonist and his struggles at sea reminded me of this fascinating and broken place I’d come to call home -- a country where work happens, struggles continue, and yet "success" or any kind of respite seem so often out of reach.
It’s now been two years since the largest earthquake to hit the country in 200 years shook the life out of Port-au-Prince, causing chaos, destruction, death, and leaving more people homeless than the wrecked city could cope with. Journalists have come and gone, and the visiting groups of beaming, t-shirted volunteers have become less and less frequent. The work of aid agencies, the private sector, and the government has continued, with varying levels of success amid swathes of challenges, for 24 long months, and will continue for as long as there is the will, funding, and available resources.
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)
One of the many measures being planned by World Vision to care for the needs of children after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are Child-Friendly Spaces — safe, supervised learning and playing places where kids can be kids in a post-traumatic environment. They receive psycho-social "first aid" through counseling and structured activities like playtime, music, and art.....