Thursday, September 5, 2013

SWTJ 19th Activity Week August 2013


Thanks to our many supporters and with the help of a great team of SWTJ members and young volunteer camp leader assistants, we were able to again organize a fun summer camp for Tohoku disaster area kids! 
We contacted schools, community centers, and our branches in Tohoku to announce our second summer camp to the local population. Many kids who had participated in the camp last year were eager to join again! And many new kids overcame the fear to leave home for 3 days for the first time alone, and joined us for the great adventure!
The location was just perfect: Minami Koryu Center in Senmaya (Iwate Prefecture) is a spacious house with futon bedding, a big kitchen, and a great sports ground nearby! 

All the meals were prepared together with the kids!  Cooking together was an important part of the camp and enjoyed by all!

Curry for tonight!

At night, the SWTJ volunteer team would meet to prepare the following day...

Staff meeting in preparation for the next day
Off to the river! A good time was had by all!


Everybody just loved the nagashi-somen event where noodles have to be skillfully picked up from a split bamboo stem.

The watermelon game

The 'Tree of Hope' built by the children from cardboard is lighted to send our wishes and hopes to the heavens, as is custom in Japan

About 40 villagers joined us on the last night of the camp for entertainment, Bon-Odori Dance, fireworks, and a good time together with kids, musicians, and SWTJ leaders and members! 

The Slide Walk Salon Orchestra performs a volunteer Live Performance for the camp kids and the villagers of Senmaya during the last night of the camp!

...a time to find new friends
...a time to laugh out loud
...a time to be just yourself
...a time to be devastated because of a defeat in a game
...a time to rediscover the joy of water
...a time to connect with camp leaders
               ...and so much more! 

These kids have come so far since the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Many of them still live in temporary container housing, and many of them have lost close relatives and friends. 

However, they have participated in our camp with much joy and energy, and have helped with all tasks, including cooking and cleaning, all throughout! And many many friendships have been built!
SWTJ is convinced again that work with children continues to be crucial in Tohoku!

We won't forget, we will continue!

See more pictures of the 2013 Summer Camp in the slide show below (click on bottom right corner for full sight).


SWTJ would like to thank all the wonderful villagers and volunteers who helped or participated in the camp, and all those who made the camp possible through their generous financial, material and spiritual contribution!

SWTJ 18th Activity Week May 2013


The May Activity Week stood under the sign of deepening our contacts in Tohoku in order to respond to the new needs in each of the communities we work with. 

Kesennuma Karakuwa Isaribi Park: SWTJ co-organizes Aozora Community and Flea Market Event May 3 and 4 

3 SWTJ members spent a very intense week talking to the leaders of our branches in Tohoku, contributing with food stalls, a flea market, kids' events, and a music live performance in local community events for displaced people, discussing opportunities to launch a music project for evacuee children, and checking out a camp house that SWTJ will use during its summer camp for evacuee children that will take place in August 2013. 

On May 3 and 4, at Isaribi Park in Karakuwa, Kesennuma, we connected with our local contact Yoshida who is active in organizing community-building events for the displaced people in the area. SWTJ's food stalls with the possibility for kids to make their own cotton candy were very popular, and the flea market was well visited.

In Rikuzentakata, we connected with SWTJ branch leader Kanazawa (left), whose knowledge of new developments in the disaster area is indispensable to the direction of our organization. Thanks to Mr. Kanazawa's introduction we were able to support activities at the community event at Dencho-kan in the hills of Rikuzentakata, where over 1,000 people, many of them evacuees from the nearly entirely swept away former city of Rikuzentakata, gathered for 'Childrens' Day' on May 5.    

May 5 (Childrens' Day) Hakodateyama-Festival in Rikuzentakata: SWTJ games for displaced kids

A visit to Tsukidate Community Space in Yasse, Kesennuma, 

a space built by SWTJ in 2012 to support exchange and 

community-building between displaced people in container

housing and local villagers:

Visit at our branch in Yasse, Kesennuma (Photo: Community Space built by SWTJ in 2012)
Emotional re-encounter between Yasse temporary container housing resident S. and SWTJ members.

Shishiori Station in Kesennuma, May 2013: The scenery looks peaceful, but the boat in the back ran over dozens of homes during the tsunami, and the train station was swept away. Not much change here yet.

Finally, we visited School Director Yamamoto of Kujo Primary 

School in Kesennuma. Mr. Yamamoto has advised SWTJ 

many times regarding the post-tsunami needs of children. 

Many children at his school have been moved here from 

Minami Kesennuma Primary School, where they had 

been hard hit by the tsunami: after the earthquake they were 

evacuated to the roof of the school where they spent 

the night in the dark and cold, and where they 

witnessed how their homes were swept away, and how fires 

started in their hometown.

Left: SWTJ Director Y.Yoshikawa. Right: School Director Yamamoto of Kujo Primary School in Kesennuma

Mr. Yamamoto says: "I would like to use the help of Art so 

that these kids can express themselves and find strength

again. Mr. Yoshikawa, I hope to work together with you."

SWTJ will strive to continue working with children who are still 

traumatized by the tsunami and the related disasters.

On May 5 we visit 'Minami Koryu Center' in Senmaya, a

community house in a village close to the border between 

Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, to check if

the location would be suitable for our summer camp for kids

from the disaster area. The people at the center are very 

friendly, and the infrastructure at the center seems perfect for

our camp!

Check our next blog for news on the 2013 SWTJ summer camp for Tohoku disaster area kids!