Japan: We are Delivering Flowers and Cordiality to People in the Disaster-affected Areas

We are Receiving Messages of Support from around the Country, One after Another
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has been carrying out the “Delivering Flowers and Magokoro (literally meaning “true heart”) to the Disaster-Affected Areas Campaign” as one of the recovery activities in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The same scenery that one saw right after the earthquake can be still seen in the disaster-affected areas even though more than one year has passed. There are quite a few places that have lost colorfulness because flowers were swept away by the tsunami. The campaign was initiated with the goal to provide flowers to people in such areas, along with messages of support to help them regain their spirit as much as possible, and we have been receiving donations and messages from supporters all over Japan. AAR Japan visited the devastated areas in Fukushima and Iwate Prefectures to deliver flowers with the contributions we received from April 11th, when the campaign was launched, until April 30th. The flowers were bought at a local florist as well as a social welfare facility for persons with disabilities located in the disaster areas.

April 27th, 2012 – Messages from various regions such as Osaka, Kyoto, Chiba, and Saitama Prefectures were sent to the disaster-affected areas. (Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture)

The Recipients of the Flowers were Beaming with Delight.

On April 27th, 2012, AAR Japan delivered flowers and messages of support to 15 users of Himawari no Ie, a facility for persons with intellectual and mental disabilities in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture. Immediately following the earthquake, staff members of Himawari no Ie made efforts to support persons with disabilities affected by the disaster by holding soup kitchens.
We beautifully wrapped the seedlings of pink carnations that were bought from Hanayumin, a florist in Soma City, with traditional Japanese paper and individually handed them to the users of the facility with the messages of support. The users beamed with delight and responded with words like “How beautiful!” and “I’m so happy!” In addition to the beauty that the flowers emitted, the attached messages of encouragement instilled much comfort and joy among the recipients.

April 27th, 2012 – Users of Himawari no Ie, a facility for persons with intellectual and mental disabilities, smile as they hold the flowers with Sunny straps. Pictured on the far left in the back row is Miyo ITO of AAR Japan’s Tokyo Headquarters Office. (Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture)

 “I am sure that my mother, who tends to stay indoors, will smile if she sees these flowers.”

Ms. Fumiko SASAKI, one of the users of the facility, received flowers and a card sent by a woman in her thirties from Aichi Prefecture. The message said, “I hope that you’ll smile when the flowers bloom”. With a big smile on her face, Ms. SASAKI told us that this gift had made her day and she intends to put the flowers in her room where she can gaze at it every day.
Ms. Satoko IKEUCHI, another beneficiary who received flowers and a card, has been living in Koike-Naganuma temporary housing complex in Soma City after evacuating with her mother from Odaka Ward in Minami-Soma City, which became an off-limits area following the nuclear accident. According to Ms. IKEUCHI, her mother has been down ever since they relocated to the temporary housing complex. Ms. IKEUCHI expressed in delight that her mother, who has been isolating herself, will be able to regain her smile if she takes a look at the flowers and the message.

April 27th, 2012 – Ms. Satoko IKEUCHI of Himawari no Ie said, “My mother will show more smiles than before if she sees this wonderful gift,” as she received the flowers and the message. (Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture)

“I am happy to receive the flowers since all of the flowers in my garden were swept away in the tsunami.”

On the following day, April 28th, we visited Jinomori temporary housing complex in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture. The flowers we delivered were marigolds nurtured by the users of Jiai Fukushi Gakuen, a job assistance facility for persons with intellectual disabilities located in the same city. Jiai Fukushi Gakuen had grown and sold flowers in the community, but its sales channel was cut off because the residents in the region fell victim to the earthquake.
One of the people we delivered flowers to was Ms. Chiyako NAKAMURA, who currently lives in temporary housing with her son with intellectual disability, after their home was destroyed by the tsunami. She used to grow lots of flowers in her garden, but everything was washed away by the tsunami. Bowing deeply, she thanked us by saying that she absolutely loves flowers, and saw us off in gratitude as we left her home.

April 28th, 2012 – We handed marigolds and the attached message to Ms. Chiyako NAKAMURA, who lives in Jinomori temporary housing complex. (Ofunato City, Fukushima Prefecture)

Likewise, Ms. Akiyo KUROSAWA, who lives in temporary housing, received a message from a woman in her thirties from Osaka Prefecture. The message stated, “I hope that your smile will bloom as the flowers bloom,” and Ms. KUROSAWA happily replied, “Thank you so much for your support from such distant place.” Ms. KUROSAWA’s life was saved on the day of the disaster by evacuating to a high ground, but her house was completely destroyed. Since then, after having lived in an evacuation center for about a month, she has now been living in the current temporary housing complex with her father and sister. Her house has just two rooms that are the size of 4.5 and 5 tatami mats respectively. In spite of such tight living condition with not even storage space, she says they have gotten by.

April 28th, 2012 – Seedlings of marigolds cover the greenhouse of Jiai Fukushi Gakuen. The users of the facility have put in a lot of effort to grow them. (Ofunato City, Fukushima Prefecture)

April 28th, 2012 – The meaning of marigolds is “shine of life.” The flowers were literally blooming with much light inside the greenhouse. (Ofunato City, Fukushima Prefecture)

The Campaign will Continue until May 31st.

In addition to the messages introduced above, we have also received the following messages, among many others:

“Those of you who have been affected by the disaster are always in our thoughts. Please remember that we are right beside you, just like these flowers are.”
(A man in his thirties/ Tokyo)
“I pray that one day, flowers of hope will bloom where you are, and you can soon feel the aroma of hope in the air.”
(A man in his thirties/ Hyogo Prefecture)

“May beauty be added to your life.”
(A woman in her forties/ Kyoto Prefecture)

“May your town be filled with flowers.”
(A woman in her forties/ Saitama Prefecture)

We assure you that your thoughts and messages of support have been delivered to the people of the disaster-affected areas.
“Delivering Flowers and Magokoro to the Disaster-Affected Areas Campaign” will last until May 31st. We look forward to your continued support.

Miyo ITO, AAR Japan Tokyo Office
Public Relations