Grateful for the continuing support 3 years on - Thank you for your cooperation with the “Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign”

Many warm sentiments delivered to Tohoku

In the Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign, messages of support from people all over Japan were attached to AAR Japan's charity chocolates and delivered to the areas stricken by the Tohoku Earthquake. From December 2011 to March 2014 (with the campaign running during winter only) we received orders for 6,452 chocolates.

In Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures, staff from AAR's Tohoku office distributed the chocolates by visiting temporary housing units door to door and at events organized by AAR. In this report, we will relay some of the circumstances and messages of thanks from the recipients.
"We're grateful for the support from all over Japan". Chocolates were delivered to 15 people in Konakai Temporary Shelter Complex in Ofunato city. In the front row on the far right is AAR Sendai office's Kazuo ITO (February 10th, 2014)

Happy that we aren't forgotten

As part of the Building Healthy Communities Project, AAR Japan has been holding various events at community centers among the temporary housing complexes. We have provided massages and attentive listening sessions with the aim to try and relieve even a little of the mental and physical stresses of those living in the temporary shelters. In addition to this, we have also held handicraft workshops and cooking classes, where the survivors of the disaster have had the opportunity to socialize with one another. On December 22, 2013, we delivered chocolates to a woman in her 50s living in a temporary housing unit in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture. She told us, "It's been three years since the big earthquake. As time passes, fewer and fewer volunteers come to visit the temporary housing units. But after reading the message attached to this chocolate, I thought, 'There's still people who have't forgotten'. I'm grateful for that."
"There's a message written here." (Koike-harahata Daini Temporary Housing Complex community center, Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, December 21st, 2013)

  On February 9, 2014, Ms. Otomo (67 years old, pictured right) received chocolates at Ota Temporary Housing Complex in Ofunato City, Iwate prefecture. There was an attached message from Hokkaido, bearing the words, "I think the weather's still cold over there, so please take care of yourself and I hope everything goes well." After reading this, Ms. Otomo told us: "Living in temporary housing isn't so bad now, but right after the disaster was incredibly hard. I don't think I could have lived til today without any help. Knowing there are lots of people supporting us really got me through. I'm really happy to get these chocolates knowing that even 3 years on, people still remember."
Ms. Otomo says her house was washed away by the tsunami. The message attached to the chocolate brings a smile to her face. (February 9th, 2014)

"Getting messages from so far away and with such heartwarming messages is fantastic. Thank you." - disaster survivors speak unanimous words of gratitude. (Wataricho-chuo Kougyou-danchi Temporary Housing Complex, Miyagi prefecture, January 1st, 2014)

"It looks like I can get into public housing soon, but after 5 years I'll have to buy it. I don't know how I'm going to pay for it. But being able to have a good time here, and getting message chocolates from people in places I haven't heard of has really made my day." (Wataricho-chuo Kougyou-danchi Temporary Housing Complex, Miyagi prefecture, January 1st, 2014)

Every single word in the messages supporting those with problems of their own

AAR Japan wrapped up all chocolate deliveries in April 2014, and received many delighted words of thanks: "Getting messages from so far away and with such heartwarming messages is fantastic. Thank you." We can safely say that the presence of those supporting the disaster zone along with each written message has been a source of support for many people here burdened with different problems. Each and every single word has given renewed strength and courage to these survivors. We at AAR Japan would like to sincerely thank everyone who has supported and cooperated with us in the Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign.

Below is just a few of the comments we received from chocolate recipients.

- I have stiff shoulders and leg and groin pain, which only gets worse as the cold weather goes on. But after getting such warm messages with these chocolates, I feel as though both my mind and body are warmed up, and it makes me feel at ease. I can't thank you enough. (79 year old woman)

- I really don't know when and if I'll ever be able to leave this temporary house. I feel anxious every day and think at times that if this was how it was going to be, I wish I had just been washed away and died in that tsunami. I don't know what I'm supposed to do from now on. But today, I got a massage and these chocolates with a message, which I'm so glad for. I feel a lot better. Thank you. (78 year old woman)

- Everyone here at this housing complex donated their money to the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. In times of need, we have to help each other out. I think that the people who sent us these chocolates also had the same feelings, so I can honestly feel nothing but grateful. (man in his 70's)

Kazuo ITO, Sendai Office
Kazuo ITO worked in AAR's Sendai office from August 2013 to April 2014.