The Great East Japan Earthquake: Delivering Chocolates and Messages in “MAGOKORO” Campaign

19 December 2013 – Harumi KAWAGOE (On the right hand side), a member of Tokyo Office, AAR Japan, giving a chocolate with a message to a woman at Nakazuma Temporary Housing Complex, Kamaishi City, Iwate. “The message made me cheerful.” The woman said.

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has been conducting a campaign named “MAGOKORO” - meaning cordiality - where AAR Japan delivers chocolates and messages of support sold in cooperation with Rokkatei Confectionery Co. Ltd, Hokkaido, to disaster areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In this campaign, AAR Japan responsibly delivers chocolates (500 yen/box including tax) bought for disaster areas to there. In 2012, 1052 chocolates were bought from 24 November to 25 December and 863 of them were directly delivered to people living in temporary housing complexes in Iwate Prefecture (Rikuzentakata City, Kamaishi City and Otsuchicho Town) and Fukushima Prefecture (Soma City and Shinchimachi Town).

“Every message is different.” People are reading their messages to each other

15 December 2012 – Participants were talking about their current daily life and concerns. Natsuki MATSUMOTO, a member of Tokyo Office, AAR Japan is on the right hand side.

On 15 December 2012, chocolates and messages were delivered to about 150 people who participated in an event called “Building Healthy Communities for Recovery” held by AAR Japan at Gangoya Temporary Housing Complex, Shinchimachi Town, Fukushima. Local residents from Shinchimachi Town as well as people who evacuated from other areas such as Namiemachi Town and Tomiokamachi Town live together in this complex. Ms. Tsumiko SASAKI, 75 (on the lower left corner in the picture above), was so delighted to receive her chocolate and message of support. “I am unable to go back to my home because it is located in an evacuated area. Since I live by myself, I am concerned about how I’ll fare in the future.” she said anxiously.

The lovely package of the chocolates made kids joyful. “Each message is unique.” Participants happily exchanged and read their messages with each other.

15 December 2012 at Gangoya Temporary Housing Complex, Shinchimachi Town, Fukushima – “Both pink and blue packages are cute.” A girl smiled.

15 December 2012 – “Messages from distant areas make me so happy.”  A reaction to receiving a message from Fukuoka Prefecture, south western part of Japan.

Kids also helped to deliver chocolates

18 December 2012 - Kids who helped delivery of chocolates and Teruyo MIYAKAWA (On the right hand side), Hiromi SATO (On the second from the right), both are members of Morioka Office, AAR Japan.

On 18 December, kids living in Massakicho Yamagishi Temporary Housing Complex, Ofunato City, Iwate, helped to deliver the chocolates. “Chocolates and messages have been arriving from all over the country!!” The kids said to the residents cheerfully. “These messages and the voice of children really make us feel uplifted.” People smiled receiving the chocolates.

Disaster areas are now experiencing their second winter since the disaster. Even now, many people still live with the grief of losing their family, the difficulty of dealing with the trauma of the earthquake and the tsunami and the anxiousness of being apart from their home towns.

“I myself can’t visit the disaster areas due to my old age but I would be very pleased if this chocolate could bring you some joy.”

 “This is the only thing I can do but I strongly believe that you will gradually begin to feel safe and calm. You’ll always be in my mind!”

 “I have also been encouraged to keep going. Please take good care of yourself. Best regards.”

Many people told that messages were heartwarming and were a source of encouragement. There were even some people who kept their messages they received last year.

18 December 2012 at Massakicho Yamagishi Housing Complex - “The message is written here. ” Hiromi SATO, a member of Morioka Office, AAR Japan, gave a chocolate to a resident.

18 December 2012 at Massakicho Yamagishi Housing Complex – “Thank you all for sending these from all over the country.”

AAR will continue our activity to deliver not only goods but also love and support from now on. “MAGOKORO” campaign will continue until the end of March 2013. Your continued support would be very much appreciated.

Ms. Natsuki MATSUMOTO, Tokyo Headquarters Office
In charge of PR at the Tokyo Headquarters Office since April 2012. Graduated from university and progressed to graduate school, while working with an international organization. Joined AAR Japan after finishing the graduate school. (Profile at time of publication)