Dear Teachers in Iran,

This letter succeeds to the two letters I sent you previously, and will be the last advice from my past experience at Great Hanshin Earthquake, since it is about time experts start supporting you in a great way.
6. People surprisingly tends to miss out the care for the orphan who leaves the devastated area and for the family accepting the child.
The disaster ares is intensively supported in many ways, is reported its state of reconstruction by the mass media and is on the wide range of people's concern and favor. It was same in case of Hanshin as well. At the same time, a number of children who lost their parents leave that place for their relatives' places, like my family. I would like to ask you for helping those children cope, since, due to the relocation, they will face quite different things to deal with and be in need of special care.
In case of Hanshin, just a half hour distance by train made a huge difference. For instance, metropolis Osaka city hardly damaged from the earthquake and people there kept their lives in luxury and lively, where the misery of the devastated area was felt just like a story or an occurrence of another world. This fact was unbelievable for the victim of the disaster and came as a kind of shock. Children were shocked more.
If the orphan is adapted into their relative's family who lives far from the devastated area, the child goes to school there. Adaptation to this new school is hard. The school staffs only know about the earthquake just through television and newspaper and are in a maze when they are to accept and deal with the child.
It depends on the children, but many orphans seems to feel uneasy to be known that they lost their family at the earthquake disaster. That is because they want to avoid people's curiosity and pity. They receive great deal of sympathy and encouragement by the time they relocated to different places by caring adults and their own decision, and sometime children feel unconfortable with the encouragement. In case of Hanshin, many letters came from a number of schools all over the country to the victim children, some of which was printed and bound as booklets. Though all letters were full of good will, some of the children cannot become gentle and they say "these are all same and superficial saying just "Cheer up!"". The priority should be given to the orphan's preference and how (s)he feels when school staffs or classmates deal with the orphan.
The family accepting an orphan spends difficult time, too. Though it is rather foster parents than teachers who must understand in depth how to take care of a child after the traumatic event, it is actually impossible. For the time being, teachers must tell foster parents the basis of the care. Symptoms of the traumatic disaster are more observed at home than at school. Probably the basis of the correspondence at that time for the foster parents is to declare clearly to the child that (s)he is accepted as a family member not a guest to their family. It is not so easy, since every family has their own "culture" and they may face cultural gaps and collision. Neither child nor family knows that the child's inappropriate reaction is due to cultural difference or PTSD of the earthquake disaster, and all those struggles bring both child and foster parents mental fatigue. Foster parents must understand that the child is not simply suffering from the stress from the fear of the earthquake and the family loss, but also so many other stresses such as the stress of cultural adaptation to the new family and new school, identity establishment of adolescence, and so on. Please also help those foster parents deal with the traumatized children.
Finally, please feel free to ask me and our school for any contributions. Our school promotes international education , utilizing internet, e-mail, teleconference, etc. Please contact me by sending e-mail directly whenever you are in need. All of members of our school, which are 800 children and 30 staffs, hope we can be of any help for you.

Best regards,

Mr. Hiroshige Kihara
PrincipalOno Minami Primary School,
Fukuoka, Japan (directly sent to principal)
(Hiroshige Kihara, Translation : Ikumi Ozawa)



   since Jan.1, 2004 

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