By Khilan Shah and Ron Choi
Figure 1. The completed playground in Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken.
On 24th and 25th of May, 2014, J.P. Morgan and NADIA volunteers, in partnership with the members of Playground of Hope (PoH) and It’s Not Just Mud (INJM), rebuilt a beautiful park in Matsunami area in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture in Japan. It was 29th build for Playground Of Hope project. This area was devastated by the tsunami of March 2011. Some of the 450 residents who attended the opening ceremony stated that it was the first time they came back to the area since the disaster. They had avoided area because of the painful memory of what had occurred on March 11th of 2011, not wishing to relive the experience. Many of those who came back for the first time were delighted what had happened to what was an abandoned park. Overgrown weeds were removed, bright green grass was laid and a large colorful play set for children was built for the eager kids from the surrounding area. The festive mood was palpable. A BBQ party to celebrate the re-opening of the park was held. Eric Jacobsen, a children’s TV program host, performed his popular tunes for those in attendance. After a short opening ceremony, hundreds of kids ran to the play set. The park was filled with laughter and joy.
Figure 2. Eric Jacobsen from NHK morning children’s TV program, Eigode Asobo, performed a concert for the children of Matsunami, Ishinomaki.
The funding for the event was provided by JPMorgan Chase Foundation, a Japanese-American performance group called Grateful Crane, and a remarkable ten-year-old from Ohio named Miya Moore who managed to raise $30,000 at her church with the help of her mom. She and her family joined the opening ceremony. It was a heart-warming occasion for everyone involved.
Figure 3. Miya and Emiko Moore from Ohio joined the opening ceremony.
Figure 4. J.P. Morgan volunteers who rebuilt the park.
Another team of J.P. Morgan volunteers who were also in Ishinomaki the same weekend to participate in a rice planting event for a social farm for the elderly graciously joined in on Saturday to check out the park. They all posed in front of the play set for the photo op. That was probably the largest group of J.P. Morgan volunteers in Tohoku area ever.
Figure 5. J.P. Morgan volunteers building the play set.
It was another touching experience to see the children playing on the playground we built. It validated our belief that we can still make a difference in the area and continue to touch lives. If our efforts can help the people of Tohoku area in their courageous road back to recovery in even a small way we are deeply grateful.
Figure 6. There was lots of weeding and laying down of fresh natural turf.
This was by far the largest build event out of the 29 Playground Of Hope projects to date and yet another well-planned and executed volunteer event in Tohoku. The Playground Of Hope team is perfecting their skills in putting on events and making good things happen in Tohoku region. We show our deepest appreciation to Playground Of Hope and It’s Not Just Mud staff for their hard work and a great execution. And to all the volunteers from J.P. Morgan who willingly gave their time and efforts on this project, we sincerely thank you.
Figure 7. Putting in the slide is always tricky.
Figure 8. Building the base of a slide.
Figure 9. Michael Anop of Playground Of Hope giving the volunteers the morning orientation.
Figure 10. Rebuilding a park means lots of digging and other back-breaking work.
Figure 11. This is why we do it.
Figure 12. This is why we do it.