Shinchi, Fukushima, Sept. 4-5, 2015
A New Playground for the Kids in Shinchi, Fukushima
Late last year, Playground of Hope (PoH) proposed to nadia to work on a joint project for building a playground in Shinchi Machi, Fukushima. The Fukushima prefecture has been greatly affected by the March-11, 2011 disaster, from the earthquake, the tsunami and following radiation. It has also been affected by another disaster: being forgotten and left out of most of the volunteer and rebuilding recovery efforts as often Miyagi prefecture and the city of Ishinomaki have seen more inflows of volunteers. As the situation evolved in Fukushima and the level of radiation receeded to normal and safe levels (even below Tokyo levels in many areas such as Shinchi). nadia decided to work on the deployment of a new Playground of Hope at Komagamine Elementary School.
The fundraising efforts
Such endeavors requires a lot of support, both in terms of volunteers and also financially. nadia approached its partner organizations, Societe Generale and The Lycée Français International de Tokyo (LFIT) to help deliver on this project.
Societe Generale organized a Bike Ride fundraiser on Oct. 25-26, 2014 to raise funds for this project. More than 20 staff from it’s Tokyo office volunteered in the fundraiser efforts and committed to raise over 600 euros each in support of nadia. Many staff, friends and family members supported each of the bike riders fundraisers.
A few weeks later, the The Lycée Français International de Tokyo also organized the Course de Noël (Christmas Run) where kids from the primary school setup a fundraiser race also in support of nadia. Many kids, their parents, school staff and teachers contributed to the fundraising efforts. Both events allowed nadia to raise a very large portion of the funds necessary for the project.
The building of the playground and volunteer efforts
In September 2015, 17 Societe Generale employees and family members as well as 11 LFIT students, teachers and parents volunteered to be part of the deployment of the Playground at Komagamine Elementary School.
The volunteers left on the evening of Friday September 4th and travelled by bus to Sendai. The journey by bus went really smoothly and we all went to bed quickly in order to be ready and sharp for the big day the next morning leaving Sendai at 8am to be in Shinchi-Machi at 9am.
Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by the Komagamine Elementary school staff along with PoH team. The representatives of the school explained how the area had been impacted by the March 11 disaster and how the area and school has been recovering and now welcomes displaced kids (14% of the 166 kids) from other affected areas of Fukushima. Although radiation levels in this town is now below Tokyo levels, the city and whole prefecture are now fighting another problem: obesity in kids is on the rise following years of reduced outdoor play, hence the importance of providing this new playground to the community. After this explanation, everyone got to meet each other briefly in order to get to work together as efficiently as possible.
We were assigned tasks that were super well organised and everything went very smoothly and fast. By noon, 75% of the playground was already set up. We took a welcome lunch break together again, allowing everyone to get to know each other a little bit more. By 4pm the playground was fully completed and it was time for a big BBQ and fun sharing times, that again, the volunteers teams pulled out beautifully. The local families and friends of the school were amazed and happy how such a jolly fun group of people managed to give their kids the best gifts of all : being able to PLAY MORE !
All in all, this project and adventure was a huge success by telling how louds the laughters were heard and cheers the kids made when they were finally allowed to play with their new playground.
Everyone worked hard and enthusiastically throughout the day, working in groups where one another hardly knew each other but always followed the tasks assigned with smiles and cheers. Everyone got along so well in a very simple and efficient manner, teaching the great values of effort, team spirit, giving and thankfulness.
A word of thanks
This project would not be possible without the contribution of all the volunteers from and donators who supported it. The smiles on the local kids faces, and on everyone’s faces were priceless. The memory of happy volunteers that gave their time, support and full enthusiasm on that day and the immediate results of this fantastic project will resonate for many years to come in our minds and hearts. We all wish to be part of more projects like that in the months and years to come! Thanks for your support. Best wishes and see you all soon for the next project !