â€˜The Children of the Tsunamiâ€™ was the subject of our talk at the Japan Society Southern Counties branch in Petersfield on August 23rd 2012. It felt a great honour to be invited to share our experiences of working with Cocoro charity in the tsunami-destroyed city of Rikuzentakata in April 2012. It was also an important opportunity to raise awareness and remember the local people who are still suffering so much depression and anxiety in the aftermath of the disaster.
My husband, Richard, and I began by talking about the situation in Rikuzentakata when we visited over a year after the tsunami, and the emotional trauma of the local people who are still living in temporary accommodation surrounded by piles upon piles of rubble that was once their homes and possessions. Then we introduced Cocoro Charity, set up by Japanese aromatherapist, Takiko Ando, to offer aromatherapy and positive touch as a way of helping to heal emotional wounds and encourage local people to share their stories of loss and suffering.
The subject of the evening, however, was the children of the tsunami and we talked about our Healing Touch for Children project which we introduced to children in the kindergartens on our visit.Â This peer massage, which is given and received through clothes, focusses on the healing power of nature with accompanying moves. The sun, for example, is portrayed as a large circular move on the back.
The audience were keen to participate in the five minute story massage, and there was much laughter and sounds of relaxation as they massaged each other through clothes. Once they has exchanged massages, everyone said that they could appreciate first hand the benefits of the project for the children of the tsunami and became very interested to know more.
We were so appreciative of the excellent organisation and enthusiastic response from members of the Japan Society Southern Counties, a very friendly group of people interested in Japan and Japanese culture. It feels so important to offer a voice in the UK to the adults and children who are still suffering so much in silence. One member of the Japan Society wrote to us afterwards:
Thank you for sharing your experiences with the members of the Petersfield Japan Society on 23rd August. I for one was deeply moved by your story and the photographs you showed.
And another wrote:
I am a Japanese Teacher, I wondered whether you would mind sending me a copy of the ‘Smiling Flowers’ as I would like to show my students and also share it with some of my Japanese friends who have children.