His Sister Lost to the Tsunami, Boy Clings to His Mother, Longing for a Place to Call Home

Iwoolverton Ian Woolverton, Save the Children Media Manager

Ishinomaki, Japan

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seina, 9, shelters with his mother, Yuriko, in the sports hall of a junior high school not far from Ishinomaki, where up to 15,000 people died. Sadly, his older sister is among the dead, washed away by the tsunami.   

Seina has been living at this evacuation center for nine days, and really wants to go home. “I sleep here on a mattress inside this hall. My older sister has been lost to the tsunami. Now it’s just me and mom left,” Seina says, wiping tears from his eyes. 

Yuriko_Seina_Ishinomaki_JapanSeina and his mother Yuriko at the evacuation center where they have been living since the tsunami
Photo Credit: Ian Woolverton – Save the Children

I really want to go home. In here, I play cards and read books with other children, but I would really like to play computer games.” But Seina cannot go home, or play his computer games. His home, and everything in it, was destroyed by the tsunami.

The one thing I’m really worried about,” Seina says, “is what’s going to happen to us, and can we get enough money together to have a new house and have a life. The biggest thing that we want, and the biggest thing that we need, is to have a house and to live safe.” 

Apart from wanting a place to call home, Seina would like to have a bath. “We have water, but we cannot have a bath. I really would like a bath.” 

With nowhere else to go, Seina and his mother Yuriko will have to spend weeks in the evacuation center. Despite the dreadful events in his life, Seina is grateful for one thing. “I feel very safe being with my mom. I am really glad that she is here with me.”


Learn more about our recovery response to the earthquake in Japan.

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Child Friendly Spaces – A Primer

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, Internet Marketing and Communications Specialist

Westport, CT

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If you've been following our social media updates or watching news coverage of the disasters in Japan you may have heard that we've set up "Child Friendly Spaces."

While the term is somewhat self-explanatory we thought it'd be nice to give you a quick crash course so you can understand precisely what kind of work we are doing in Japan, and in other disaster or conflict-affected areas for that matter.

CFS_003_85313 Yasu, age 10, playing in a Child Friendly Space inside an evacuation center in Sendai, Japan.
Photo by Jensen Walker/Getty Images for Save the Children

 While the spaces have slight variations depending on the country there are a few basic tenets that remain the same.

The spaces are always a clearly designated area in a shelter. In some cases this will be a classroom in a school or specific tent while in others it will simply be a roped-off section of a room. 

The areas are monitored by specially trained Save the Children staff and local volunteers who lead activities for the children. Activities are culturally relevant and something the children are familiar with, in Japan children have been making origami crafts while in other countries children may play tug-of-war or sing songs and dance. 

RO.KGZ.2010.09.206_82243Children form a train at a Save the Children Child Friendly Space in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Ordonez

Our staff is trained to identify children who may be particularly vulnerable by the incident. The staff and volunteers try to ensure that children with disabilities, those who come from different ethnic or gender groups are involved in the activities and that everything is age and gender appropriate. Local volunteers are also continually trained throughout the time that we run CFS so that they are better able to help organize more interactive activities and help prepare children to return to school, once they reopen.

RO.KGZ.2010.09.183_80971A boy participates in a sack race at the Save the Children Child Friendly Space in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Ordonez

As Mike Penrose, Save the Children Australia's Director of Emergency Response, explains Child Friendly Spaces have benefits for both parents and children.

"They enable parents to have time to register for emergency assistance and start to re-establish their lives while simultaneously providing children with a sense of normality and community when their lives are disrupted by disasters."


Learn more about our recovery response to the earthquake in Japan.

Help Us Respond to the Japan Earthquake Recovery. Please Donate Now.