Reflections: Disaster Recovery from the Heart - Stories of Disaster Recovery, Solidarity and Survival
The Regional Asia-Pacific ASPnet project for Japan Solidarity and Disaster Risk Reduction in Education (“Japan Solidarity Project”) was generously funded by Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT) and co-ordinated by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organizations Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok). It saw thousands of messages of solidarity and understanding sent by students in ASPnet schools across the Asia-Pacific to their counterparts in the Tohoku region of northeast Japan that were affected by the massive East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster on 11 March 2011.
The message exchange was aimed at building hope and resilience among children and teenagers who witnessed one of the most terrifying natural disasters in modern world history. Hundreds of peaceful communities living along the picturesque shores of the Pacific Ocean, in an area that also produces much of Japans famed seafood, lost their lives, homes and livelihoods when a tsunami as high as 20-30 metres meters followed the magnitude 9.0 earthquake devastating the coastline. The rebuilding of spirits in the aftermath of this tragedy remains a daunting task for Japan.
The Japan Solidarity Project has contributed to an increased exposure to and understanding of disaster risk reduction (DRR) education amongst participating teachers and learners in the Asia-Pacific region.
The purpose of this publication is to provide a brief narrative of the disaster and recovery process and to reflect upon the solidarity message exchange under the Japan Solidarity Project. It is based on interviews and surveys carried out in schools in the affected area in Japan and in ASPnet schools in the Asia-Pacific region who took part in the project. The majority of these schools have responded positively to the project and indicated a desire to continue the message exchange so that similar support might be demonstrated for other countries that suffer from a natural disaster.