A few days ago I saw a message on MIJ requesting teddy bears to be donated to children in the badly affected area of Rikuzentakata in Iwate. It was one of the towns that almost wiped out completely by the tsunami as you can see....
|photo credit : Socks For Japan|
I contacted Rosemary and asked if I could help by spreading the word on my blog. Rosemary wasn't in the country when the quake hit, she was with her sick mother but when she returned to Japan she bought a pile of teddy bears with her with the intention of giving them to the little children affected by the disaster.
But after giving out the bears she realised that the amount she had was totally inadequate, she wanted every child to get their own bear.
And so she started asking her friends and family to donate a bear and help spread the word.
So, do you want to get involved? Here are a few words from Rosemary...
Hello, my name's Rosemary Chiba and I live about an hour away from Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, one of the towns that suffered most horrendously from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. People are helping in all sorts of fantastic ways but it all needs organisation. My own concern was for the children who might have been traumatised by what they witnessed, or even suffered physically. Many will have lost family, friends and home. So, teddy bears came to mind, huggable and soft, for children to trust and I gathered some together. Here's what I said to the hoikusho (kindergarten) children:
"Teddy bears are very special. They love children. They always hold out their arms to hug you. They listen carefully when you whisper to them. You can tell them anything at all, sad things and happy things."
I linked up with a local volunteer who's been working flat out to help in Rikuzentakata and knows where to go and who to meet. Sadly, the initial few bears were totally inadequate - at least 500 were needed for that town alone so there will only be a few token bears for each hoikusho.
So, should you feel moved to help bring more bears to more children, please send teddy bears to my address below.
Guidelines for sending bears:
* must be new and unused (to maintain a consistent level of hygiene and quality)
* should be of a moderate size (neither too big or too small) so they can be
* should not contain any kind of sound emitting or recording device out of
consideration of the effect sound could have on others
* if you send them via the Post Office, you can request the P.O. to send you a
notice of delivery postcard (for those in Japan)
* if you'd also like me to contact you about the arrival of your bear/s, please
send your email address too
If you know anyone elsewhere who would also like to send a bear, please spread the word. I can't promise a perfect photo of a-child-with-your-bear, but will most certainly ensure that they are donated, no matter how many trips it takes. It will take some time, spread over many visits but this problem is not going away fast anyway.
Let's all hope these loving, caring teddy bears will bring much needed solace to small hearts.
I know many of you like to sew and would prefer to whip up your own bear, so I have been trawling the net for bear patterns, there are patterns for all different abilities, some of them look a bit on the small size so you would need to resize the pattern. If you do make one, please remember they are going to little kids so make them child friendly (no button eyes to swallow etc.)
Free Sewing Patterns
sew bear-Y sweet pumpkin bear, simple bear, Baby Pip Teddy Bear, Goldie, Teddy Bear, 9 free bear patterns, little bear, Urso de tecido - instructions in Portuguese but step by step photos, Sweet Tidings Japanese Bear , Cashmere sweater bear, Galloping bears.
The weird thing was that the day before I had seen Rosemary's message I had been working on a project making squishy bears...
These little fellas need their faces sewing on. So I will be sending all these up to Rosemary. I haven't figured out how yet, maybe through Etsy, but if you want to buy a bear then I am happy to make one for you and send it (with your details). To be honest the shop has been very quiet since the earthquake so you would be helping me and donating to a small child, drop me a line if you would prefer to do it this way, especially those who live in countries where international shipping is expensive.
Finally, please help spread the word, I have put up a badge for you to copy onto your blog which will link back to all the info here, just copy and paste the HTML in the box under the badge, it is on the top right of the blog. Those who are teachers, maybe you could organise for your class to donate a bear? Let's try and get every little kid up there in Tohoku their own bear to cuddle and tell their secrets to.