Based on their own experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, children from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures have been working on improving disaster risk reduction on a global scale. On June 24, 2014, our three representatives participated in the Children and Youth Forum at the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction that took place in Thailand. This is a sequel to last week’s report that reviewed the advance preparation prior to the forum. This video footage is from the day of the conference, and shows the actual message from the children.
■Children and Youth Forum on July 24: “We want to convey the voices of children across the border!” ■
In the preparatory workshop held at the end of March, the children elected three child representatives of Tohoku to attend the 6th AMCDRR. These are comments from the representatives from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures respectively:
“I will try my best to deliver everybody’s message in any way I can, since I get to represent other children and participate in this video conference.”
“I am hoping to present everyone’s input from March on behalf of all the children in Tohoku regions since this opportunity was given to me as a representative.”
“Since I am already a senior and this could be my last opportunity to participate in these sorts of activities, I will do my best!”
Although such an international setting was a bit overwhelming to each of them the representatives successfully spoke their pieces and presented them with the passion they each carry.
■Advance Preparation Workshop on June 21 and 23: “To cooperate and take seriously, while also having fun!” ■
Three representatives participated in the 2-day preparation workshop for the Children and Youth Forum on June 24. On June 21, the first day of the workshop, they worked on creating the video message that was to be shown at the actual conference. On June 23, the second day of preparation, they worked on their 5-minute presentation on the theme, “What if I were a Prime Minister?” to explain what they wanted from governments. This report summarizes how these three representatives, varied in age and hometowns, became united while working together.
“What if I were a Prime Minister?”
Summary of the voices of 37 children who participated in the preparatory workshop
Our representatives safely completed their mission to participate in the 6thAMCDRR and speak out on behalf of the children. What have they gained through their entire experience?
Voices of the Representatives
“I struggled with English pronunciation, but the recording of the Save the Children U.S. staff making a speech helped me a great deal. Yesterday, I was saddened by my limited English speaking ability, but I think I have actually overcome my complex.
The Save the Children staff and the Children’s Community Building Club members provided me this opportunity. Also, the advice and encouragement from my friends gave me a lot of. The reason why I succeeded in completing my task was all because of them. Thank you all so much. I will never forget everyone’s support. If I have such an opportunity like this again in the future, I will challenge myself to see how much I can do on my own outside of my country, to observe and learn the situation of other countries, and speak on what I see to the people around me.”
(High School Sophomore, Female, Yamada-town, Iwate Prefecture)
“I thought I might pass out from nervousness in the conference. I was so nervous that I only vaguely remember my presentation, but the staff told me that I did great, which relieved me a lot.
As representatives from foreign governments were pointing out, our effort will be in vain unless it is actually reflected in reality. Presentation of the issues that each country is facing in the first part of the conference shocked me very much. If there will be a chance to visit those countries, speak out, and see the reactions of the people there, I would love to try that.”
(Junior High School Senior, Female, Iwanuma-town, Miyagi Prefecture)
“When I was elected, I was happy to learn that I would be able to share my opinions, but at the same time, I was very nervous in my ability to do the job well. It was sad that we could not visit Thailand to attend the forum, but we were able to discuss how we could make the most of it in order to deliver everyone’s message in the short amount of time given to us.
Even though our presentation was through the Internet, I made a speech with confidence, trying my best to convey our message to the world. I was very happy that I received a good clap after the speech. I believe that this whole experience matured me. I will keep believing in myself and transmitting my message.”
(High School Senior Female, Iwaki-city, Fukushima Prefecture)
■ Please reflect the voices of children in an international action plan to protect our lives from future disasters! ■
We posted the activities of our representatives on Save the Children Japan’s official page on Facebook, and we received responses such as, “I hope your message goes out to the world,” “I hate seeing that vulnerable populations such as children, seniors, and handicapped individuals tend to be left out during disasters, so we need to prevent this from happening,” and, “This is exactly where the Prime Minister should be showing up.”
A disaster can strike at any time. In 2015, the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) will take place in Sendai, where an international action plan to protect our lives from future disasters will be adopted, to follow the Hyogo Framework for Action. Based on our own experiences, Save the Children will work closely with the children in order to assist them in lifting their voices so their opinions can be heard and they can participate to improve disaster risk reduction on a global scale.