Reopening of classes at Minato Primary School
In Ishinomaki, the harsh winter is slowly turning into spring. Until now there has often been sudden and heavy snow, rain and wind, flooding the town and toppling the tents in which volunteers are staying. However the weather is becoming warmer, and cherry blossoms have bloomed, marking the beginning of the new year. Many of the schools throughout Ishinomaki which Peace Boat has been supporting are opening for classes, and at the end of April entrance ceremonies were held for the new students.
These photographs are from the joint opening ceremony of 34 new students at Minato Primary School, the Minato 2nd Primary School next door, and the Minato Preschool. Peace Boat has been sending volunteers to work at these schools since it began its activities in Ishinomaki in March.
The entrance ceremony, somehow held amongst so many difficulties, was a precious opportunity for parents and teachers to see the growth of their children, taking photos and laughing at the children’s movements.
However amongst such a joyous ceremony there were moments that jerked everyone back to reality.
As the children lined up for roll call watched by their parents from behind, some parents were holding photographs of their spouses who were lost to the tsunami – mothers who are no longer here to see the growth of their sons and daughters.
In the words of a Peace Boat staff member invited to the ceremony:
“As we are gradually getting used to the scenes in the affected areas, being here strongly reminds us of the stark reality of the situation here. For the first month and a half since we began the disaster relief we were staying at this school overnight and basing activities from here. I can really feel now that we have stepped the gear of our relief activities up, and the speed and variety of our activities is also expanding.
There are dramas passing us every day here that I wish we could share with the outside world more. However there are just so many things happening, and as time passes we have to move on to the next situation without being able to fully digest and report what is going on.
However, the children’s smiles here are just amazing. This was a day that gave us the new motivation of creating an environment here where the children are not just suffering each day, but can have a place where they can play and enjoy themselves and come back to their lives as children.”
Although Ishinomaki is still a long way from full recovery, the reopening of the school and the energy of the children is proving a great inspiration to all – and we will continue to work hard to provide a safe and hopeful community for them all.
Photos by Ueno Yoshinori