Japan: Places for children to play

The aftershocks come so often in Tokyo that no one at Save the Children’s office pays them much attention anymore. They usually start with an alarm on the television, giving a few seconds warning before the floor begins to judder, sometimes building in strength, sometimes fading away to stillness. It feels a bit like being on a boat, only on the fourth floor of an office block in the middle of a large city.

If it’s a particularly strong tremor, there might be some nervous smiles exchanged — we all know that another powerful quake remains a very real possibility. But there is urgent work to be done, and the atmosphere of quiet focus returns as soon as the ground stills beneath our feet.

It’s the same with concerns over the nuclear reactor to the north of here. We all know there is a chance that the situation will deteriorate and radiation levels will rise. There’s scant reassurance to be drawn from the apocalyptic headlines in the international media, and the team are working with one eye on the latest radiation readings announced on the rolling news coverage.

But short of making contingency plans, there’s not much we can do about it. For now, levels of radiation are safe in the places we’re working and, unless they rise, there is no reason for us to change what we’re doing. In the meantime, a lot is getting done. As part of a team of international staff here in Tokyo, I’m watching the quiet determination of the dozens of Japanese staff members turn into results in the field.

Since the quake struck on Friday, Save the Children has made serious progress in our response. Our first child friendly space opened in Sendai on Wednesday, and the team there are looking to scale up their operations as soon as possible.

More spaces should be opening in evacuation centres across the affected area in the next few days, making a big difference to some of the 100,000 children caught up in this emergency.

That couldn’t happen without our staff in Tokyo working around the clock to support our teams in the field, purchasing supplies, planning logistics, producing communications material and working with the media. The challenge is enormous, but the people here are meeting it.

We knew as soon as we saw the pictures coming out of Japan last Friday that this would not be simple. Events over the past few days have proven us right. But there is no doubt we are making progress, despite the constant growls of the earth and the ever-present spectre of the radiation.

There is a sense that our Japanese staff are drawing inspiration from each other’s commitment, and in so doing, are helping their country take the first tentative steps towards recovery from one of the greatest disasters in its long, proud history.

Please support our Japan appeal

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  • Hi, my name is Levi and I am 8 years old and live inTexas. My obachan is Japanese and I have 2 aunts and an uncle who live in Tokyo. I want to help the kids in Japan begin to have a normal day. A normal day for me is around baseball, What can I do to help?

  • Bonnie

    I have a home for a child

  • Jessica

    their is a lot that you can do it help. you can ask you teacher if you can talk to the other kids in your class room and ask the staff at the school if you can set up some donation bins you can ask people to donate things like food, infant formula, jars of baby food and clothes in all sizes including clothing and shoes for babies and young kids. you can also ask them to give up some toys that they dont play with that are in good condition. if you are have the resources you can talk to some other stores and doctors offices about setting up bins and centers to donate some of the same things. also another good thing to ask people to donate is warm blankets and simple medical items like hand sanitizer, wet wipe, different sizes of bandages. it doesnt really matter what is being donated because it will all help someone who really needs it. when you collect these items they should be given to your local red cross so they can be given to the people who need them the most. good luck and remember to never give up. this is a great thing for you to do. everything you can get will make a difference in someones life who is going through a really hard time.

  • Ahrgok

    You may ask ur guardian to donate or you can participate in activities, which I suppose might be a little problem due to your age.

  • Alina

    Hi, my name is Alina, I am 9 years old. My family and I were planning to travel to Japan at Easter but had to cancel our trip. When watching the news I heard of the 100.000 kids who are searching for their families.
    So I launched my just giving page in aid of Save the children’s Japan appeal.

    I hosted a 12 hour Swimathon yesterday at my local pool. 33 of my friends joined me and we swam for 17.5 hours or 1050 minutes, which was a stark reminder of how much money I had raised prior to going into the pool.

    By this morning I have raised more than £1,200. It feels wonderful being able to help in Japan and I hope you can keep me informed on how my money is being used.

  • Maria

    Hi,My name is Maria and im 17 years old. Im Deaf and live in London, UK. As I heard the news about two natura disaters in Japon had make me to think about how could i help them. Then one of my friend has a great idea by give up wearing a hat for whole months ( start on last monday ) and ask all people who know me to sponsor me for encoruge me to give up to wearing a hat. i have raised about £35 or over so far.

  • Oscars After School Club Edinburgh

    Hi, we are a small After School Club in Edinburgh and the children were so desperate to help that we organised a ‘Jammies 4 Japan’ day. They all brought in their pocket money and wore ther Pyjamas for the aftrenoon and raised £120 to send in to your Appeal.

  • Suzanne Fisher

    That’s amazing! Thanks so much for all your hard and support – please pass on our thanks to the children as well.

  • Suzanne Fisher

    Levi: I hope you’ve gotten some ideas from everyone commenting here. Maria and Alina – thanks so much for your hard work! You are truly inspirational!

  • We should be the one who say thank you. It’s easy to donate money. You guys are the heroes.

  • Shahidullah Sharif

    Hi, I am Sharif, working in a ECD Resource Center of Institute of Educational Development under BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. I have been conducting a research on “the natural disaster’s impact on young children and community resilience in Bangladesh”. After some study works e.g. qualitative data collection on this issue I knew some of their sufferings unmeasurable. So, I pay my empathy for children of Japan from my deep heart.