In Evacuation Center, Young Mother Worries about Her Baby’s Health

Awander Andrew Wander, Save the Children Media Manager

Minimisanriku, Japan

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


After 10 days living in the evacuation center, with little hygiene and few supplies, Michiko Takahashi worries about the health of her 1-year-old baby girl, Mion. I transcribed her story with the assistance of a translator. 

“On the day of the earthquake, I had been at the doctor with my daughter. I’d just returned home and was changing her diaper when the earthquake struck.

“The house was really shaking hard, and I thought it would be safer outside. Normally I’d have stayed inside, because that’s what we’re taught to do, but the ground was shaking so hard that I thought I’d be safer outside. So I ran out with the baby, without even time to put on a new diaper. 

IMG_7247 Michiko, 22, holds her daughter Mion, 1, in the evacuation center they have lived in since being made homeless by a tsunami in Minimisanriku.
Photo Credit: Andrew Wander – Save the Children

“I was about to go back into the house to get some things, when I heard the tsunami siren ringing. My mother shouted at me not to go into the house, and we started running to higher ground. 

“I now know that my house was completely destroyed, and we’ve lost everything.

I have only the clothes I was wearing, but Mion was given some baby clothes yesterday.

“Life in evacuation center is very hard. We’ve been here for 10 days, and I’m very concerned about my baby’s health. For the first nine days, we had no hygiene supplies given to us at all. Yesterday, we got three baby wipes (not packets, but individual sheets) and a couple of cans of milk.

There’s nothing to sterilize the baby’s bottle with, and I haven’t washed my hands for days. I tried to go to the city to buy some supplies, but there is nothing in the shops. 

"I’m very worried about my daughter, especially because she suffers from poor health. Even before the disaster, she’d been going to the hospital twice a month, and there’s no telling when we’re going to be able to go again.

“Mion is also very shy, and it’s really upsetting her living here, with so many people around all the time. We have no idea when we will leave here, or where we will go. Everything has changed.

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