After the big earthquake on March 11, our high-rise apartment was condemned and deemed no longer safe to live in. Thus began our life on the road. Our family of four (me, my husband, 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy) began moving from one friend’s house to another.
Though we are fortunate to have such generous friends, not having your own home can be physically and emotionally draining. I had to keep reminding my kids that the different toys and dishes in these homes were not theirs. Pressure and guilt for not being able to provide the best for my children began to take hold of me. I was feeling like a terrible mother, as I could not provide a better environment for my kids. Also, I kept thinking about all those with small children and infants who had also lost their homes.
Then a friend messaged me and asked how we were doing and if there was anything she could do to help us or anybody else in our area. I shared with her my struggles. This led us to the idea of putting together something that would be extra special for mothers to give to their children. Of course they need food and water and all those necessary things to survive. However we thought it would be nice for them to also receive something that was extra special to cheer them up – an opportunity for them to know that others were thinking and praying for them.
We wanted to communicate love somehow. So we collected things that were not just second-hand that people did not need any more, but rather new items and cute little things especially chosen for people in the disaster areas. Each present also had a little message attached to them – a message of encouragement to mothers and children in Tohoku.
As I have been going into the shelters with a relief organization (Iris Team), we have had the opportunity to hand out these special gifts of love. People were touched when I told them that they were from mothers to encourage families in this area.
These people have lost their loved one, lost their homes, lost things that were close to their hearts – they need hope when all else is gone.
Through this experience I have been able to see for myself that, only love truly gives hope.
Japan Alive staff member based in Sendai