'Kizuna’ – a message of hope for Japan’s school children
The Japanese word ‘Kizuna’ means solidarity or tie. UNESCO has adopted the word for a new campaign. School children from around the world are being asked to write a message of hope on a postcard. The aim is for each of the thousands of school children who were affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit northeast Japan on 11 March, to receive a postcard as an act of solidarity.
On that fateful day over 7000 schools were destroyed or damaged by the Tsunami, mostly in the coastline area of Tohoku region. In one tragic case among many, more than 70 percent of pupils were swept away by the tsunami. The remaining 30 percent of children in that particular school are understandably traumatized as are thousands of other school children in the region. Many children lost everything - their parents, friends, houses and schools. Many more continue to live in shelters. Sending some words of hope or drawing a picture symbolizing friendship on a postcard, shows these children that they have not been forgotten.
“The word Kizuna conveys a powerful message of unity. It also embodies the strength of our cooperation with Japan over the past 60 years,” says Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO. “Our conviction is that reconstruction, both physically and psychologically, must start with education, with schools, students and teachers.”
The Sendai branch of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ) will collect the postcards and then distribute them to school children and teachers in the affected region of Japan. Three educational institutions in the Sendai Region will also help logistically with the Kizuna Campaign - Tohoku University, Miyagi University of Education and Sendai Shirayuri Women's College.
The first NFUAJ club was created in Sendai in 1947. This grassroots movement led to the creation of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ) the following year, and it paved the way for Japan’s full membership of UNESCO in May 1951.
Today there are 300 UNESCO Associations and Clubs in Japan and a further 5,000 throughout the world that carry out volunteer activities in the regions where they have taken root.
Postcards should be sent before 31 July, 2011 and addressed to:
Sendai UNESCO Association
1-2-2 Oomachi, Aoba-ku,
Sendai City, 980-0804 JAPAN
Messages should include:
- The sender’s name, sex, age and address
- Indicate whether the sender is a student or teacher
- A written message or a picture
- Be written in an official UN language or Japanese
If participating as a school or class, we encourage schools to collect and send the postcards in one big envelope or box to facilitate the coordination in Japan.
Postcards can also be sent via the closest UNESCO regional office. List of field offices.
For further information on Kizuna campaign and UNESCO Associated Schools Network.
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