KIZUNA - postcards of hope to Japan
UNESCO’s three-month campaign to solicit postcards of hope from around the world for the children of the Tohoku region successfully wrapped up July 31. Over 31,000 postcards of messages have arrived in Sendai from 59 countries and 1 region.
The campaign – Kizuna: a Message of Hope for Japan’s Children” – was based on the Japanese word (Kizuna) for solidarity and was aimed at children and their teachers, asking them to send a postcard with a message to the tsunami-affected schools of the Tohoku region.
Undertaken with UNESCO’s Intersectoral Platform for Support to Countries in Post-conflict and Post-disaster Situations, the campaign focused on the victims of the tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on 11 March, notably traumatized children who lost everything everything; parents, friends, homes and schools in the disaster.
Small countries led the response to the campaign. Malta, Luxembourg, Maldives, Bhutan, Montenegro ranked among the Top 20 senders. UNESCO’s exhibition booth at the Japan EXPO in Paris (30 June – 3 July) mobilized as many as 2,000 participants in the campaign.
A selection of the cards collected will be exhibited in Sendai City at the Aoba Underground Gallery (3 – 7 August) and at Sendai UNESCO House (4 – 7 August) during the Tanabata Festival, one of Japan’s three biggest festivals. The postcards will then be delivered to thousands of children and teachers in some 100 tsunami-affected schools and 50 nuclear-radiation shelter schools, in time for the second semester.
The Sendai branch of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ) will make every effort to match senders’ and receivers’ profiles to encourage cross-cultural friendships. Students from educational institutions in the Sendai Region, notably Tohoku University and Miyagi University of Education, also volunteer their time and skills, translating messages from UN official languages into Japanese.