|The Raiku Festival on the grounds of Wako Kindergarten. A temple can be seen next door.|
Delivering Toys and Bringing Smiles at a Kindergarten Festival
“We want to make a festival that will live in the children’s memories”
On July 23rd, AAR
delivered toys to the children at Wako Kindergarten’s Raiku Festival. In this port town kindergarten, all the classes are named after sea animals: Rakko (sea otter), Iruka (dolphin), and Kujira (whale). Largely planned and run by the school PTA, the festival was named by taking the first character of each class’ name to form Ra-i-ku. JAPAN
After the earthquake, the kindergarten’s first floor was flooded by the tsunami, leaving the staff room and the 3-year-old children’s classroom unusable. The children were only able to return to the facilities on May 9th, after the completion of repair work. The remains of houses that were washed away by the tsunami are visible in the surrounding area, and there is still rubble on the kindergarten’s rice fields.
Happy children with toys
On the morning oｆ the festival, members of the PTA prepared kaki-gori (shaved ice with flavored syrup) and yakisoba noodles inside the kindergarten. AAR
brought toy sets for the children, including water pistols, soap bubbles, and other toys in Sunny-chan tote bags that AAR JAPAN volunteers living around the country made and sent to us. JAPAN
Toy sets were delivered to 42 children. We enjoyed watching them start playing with the toys right after choosing their bags. Mothers smiled and told their children, “Let’s play with your daddy when we go back home.” Other NGO groups also came to the festival, performing with bean bags, dancing, and engaging in other activities with the children.
The vice-principal of the kindergarten told us that, based on her daily conversations with the children, she believes that they have been traumatized by the disaster. She wants to give them positive memories that they can carry with them into the future.