A year and four months have passed since the fateful day, March 11, 2011, when Japan’s northeastern coast was hit by a powerful earthquake and ravaged by massive tidal waves. The 3.11 Ehon Project Iwate began out of our desire to stand with the people who live with despair. The situation is still very grave. Those who are known to have died and those who are missing will not come back, and it is not easy to accept for those who survived. It will take many more years.
This year, while we bring picture books to the coastal communities that are still struggling amid the devastation and the danger, we are trying something new: Picture Book Salons. This is the name we have given to events held at facilities provided by the Central Civic Hall in Morioka at which we share picture books and games with children and their parents, along with others devoted to children’s books. We hope these picture book-centered events, inspired by ideas from friends from the coastal areas, will be helpful in some way will prove a source of solace and peace of mind.
Many people who fled the coastal areas have gathered in Morioka and they come to the salons with their children. The Central Civic Hall that is the headquarters of Ehon Project Iwate is blessed with a large landscape garden that once belonged to an old merchant house. We have been fortunate to be able to hold our salons in the welcoming tatami-floored spaces of the old house and tea room. The salons have been held over one week at the beginning of each month starting in May. Please see our Blog for the schedule and details.
Another venture for us this year is to attend the IBBY Congress in London starting on 23 August and report to the world about our activities. We are grateful for the friendship and tremendous generosity we have received from all over the world. We do not know yet exactly when and how, but we are convinced that what we are doing will prove useful. Even without raging tsunami and the shocks of earthquakes, children are suffering in the wake of war, violence, and tragedy all over the world. When we seek to extend these children a supportive hand, what we have learned in the Ehon Project Iwate will surely be helpful. This project was begun precisely because of our awareness of the conditions that led to the founding of IBBY itself and of experiences shared with us by friends around the world.
To maintain hope even in the midst of despair is very, very hard.
The symbol of hope is our impulse to believe that someday flowers will bloom. We strive to live on and to live for the sake of those who died, strengthened by confidence, as expressed in the words of the “Hana wa saku” (Flowers Will Bloom) reconstruction support song, in the children yet to be born, and our hope to watch over them as they embrace their lives. We have learned many valuable lessons through the hardships suffered in this disaster, and we have gained many friends. We want the world to know: These lessons and these friendships are the seeds of hope.
3.11 Ehon Project Iwate
August 1, 2012
5,831; total 232,175 books
Picture books distributed to:
286 locations (about 103,360 book)
Total funding for project support:
※This is the total of grants and donations received as of the above date.
From now on, the project will work to deliver picture books to the smaller evacuation centers and temporary housing sites. In many of the disaster areas, libraries, day care centers, and other facilities for children were destroyed, so it is difficult for local public services to house books.
In order to deliver books and reading services to children more flexibly and in more remote areas, we have started the “Ehon Car” project.