Japan: Delivering Stuffed Toys and Musical Instruments to Children in the Disaster Zone

Delivering Stuffed Toys and Towels

From June to August, AAR JAPAN delivered stuffed toys and towels to children in the disaster zone. Our deliveries were made to institutions for children with disabilities, emergency shelters, and nursery centers in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.
July 28th – Children hold their favorite toys at Arahama Nursery Center in Miyagi Prefecture. Back right is Ms. Yuko OGAWA of AAR JAPAN.

July 6th – A big chorus of ‘thank you’s from happy children with their toys at Akasaki Nursery Center in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture.

Hugging their New Stuffed Toys (Arahama Nursery Center in Watari Town, Watari County, Miyagi Prefecture)

Arahama Nursery Center was located at the mouth of the Abukuma River in Watari Town, Miyagi Prefecture. Since the building was damaged by the tsunami, they are now using one room of nearby Watari Nursery Center, which was undamaged in the disaster, as well as a temporary building that was set up next door. It was July before they were finally able to resume operations in earnest.

On the day of the earthquake, the children and teachers evacuated to the third floor of a nearby junior high school. One of the staff told us that even on the third floor the upcoming waves were terrifying, and she feared for her life. We were relieved to know that all the staff and children had made it out safely. When we delivered stuffed toys and towels on July 28th, the children rushed up to our boxes one right after the other, picking their favorites and hugging them tightly with big smiles on their faces.

Children rush up to our boxes of towels and stuffed toys.
Very Happy with their New Toys (Megumi Day Care Center in Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture)

June 22nd – Children pose with their new towels at 
Megumi Day Care Center. 
Back right is Ms. Yoko KUNIHISA of AAR JAPAN.
Megumi Day Care Center is an NPO-operated institution for children with autism, many of whom attend special needs classes in public schools. AAR JAPAN collected tote bags from supporters all over Japan and filled them with stuffed toys and towels, which AAR and Megumi staff handed out to the children one by one. The children waited patiently with beautiful sparkling eyes, and as soon as they got their own toys, they started to play.
Pianos Make A Nursery Center Fun!

In July, AAR JAPAN delivered eight electric pianos, amplifiers, and microphones to nine nursery centers in Miyagi Prefecture. The day we delivered our electric piano to Alice Nursery Center in Miyagi Prefecture happened to be the same day that parents were invited to observe lessons, and the center staff were pleased to be able to let parents see their children enjoying their new piano. Our pianos, amplifiers, and microphones are used daily in each nursery center.

Aug 30 -Children sing along with a new electric piano 
at Alice Nursery Center.
In some of these nursery centers, every child and staff member lost someone close to them in the tsunami. Although the children welcomed AAR JAPAN staff cheerfully, many of them experienced the disaster first-hand and have suffered some form of privation. By delivering pianos and toys, we hope that we have helped to make the nursery centers fun places where children can enjoy playing with their toys and singing along with the piano. If the children can enjoy their time in the nursery centers, we hope it will help them return to the normal lives they knew before the earthquake. With this in mind, AAR JAPAN will continue our support efforts in order to make survivors’ lives more cheerful and more comfortable.

This effort has been supported through donations from Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan and Melrose Company. We also received cooperation from the Walt Disney Company with donations of stuffed toys, and from the Towel Museum Company with donations of towels.

Yuko OGAWA, AAR JAPAN Tokyo office
Has been working in PR in AAR JAPAN’s Tokyo office since December 2008. Studied international law in university and graduate school. Joined AAR JAPAN after working as a public servant for six years.