Japan: Inauguration of the children’s home in Ichinoseki Order of Malta - Permanent Observer Mission


Japan: Inauguration of the children’s home in Ichinoseki

Colorful balloons and red tape: both children and adults celebrated the completion of the new children’s home. Photo: Kazushi Abe

Children express joy about their new home at ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Sister Caelina and „her“ children thank all donors and partners for turning their wish for a new home into reality. Photo: Kazushi Abe

Cologne/Ichinoseki. Two years and three months after the devastating earthquake in Japan, the children’s home Fujinosono in Ichinoseki opens the doors of its new building, whose construction was managed by Malteser International.

With excited laughter and shining eyes, the children of Fujinosono could not hide their joy for their new home during its grand opening on 29 June. Each child released an air balloon into the sky while Sister Caelina, the home’s director, and three of the small children cut through the red tape in front of the new home’s entrance.

The opening of the new building is the culmination of two years and three months of extensive planning, which included the development of an innovative energy and safety concept. Now, the bright and cheerful children’s home offers its residents a safe shelter after the great earthquake of March 2011.

“To us, today marks another important milestone which was only possible because the workers and volunteers worked almost without pause in the last months, also on weekends,” reports Sister Caelina. On 21 June, when the home’s keys were handed over to Fujinosono, the children had the opportunity to explore their new home for the first time. “The home seemed like a castle to them,” she says. “They’re really excited about moving in on 6-7 July. The children are going to give a soul to the new home.”

Martin Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of the Sendai diocese, blesses the new building. Photo: Kazushi Abe

Around 250 guests – including sponsors, Japanese local and state officials and representatives from international partner organizations – attended the opening ceremony, in which Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga from the Diocese of Sendai blessed the new home. The children’s testimonies were especially moving: time and again, it became clear that, because of their traumatic experiences as their old home was severely damaged by the earthquake, they have lost their sense of security and their trust. For Sister Caelina and the children, it is important to be able to move on and look forward to a safer future in the new home.

“I believe that the children of Fujinosono are a treasure for all of us here,” said Michael Khoo, Malteser International’s board member and representative for the Asia/Pacific region, in his speech. “This new model of the building will shed new light on the direction of reconstruction of Tohoku area and inspire people in the community to be safer in the future.”

The 45 children and youth who will be living in the new home come from underprivileged families who cannot care for them. The new home was built to resist earthquakes and will also be used as a barrier-free evacuation center for the city of Ichinoseki. The new building complies to the newest standards for child-friendly living spaces, and its innovative energy system is based on an independent energy supply with solar panels and a biomass heating system. The modern building sets a new benchmark in the areas of sustainability and earthquake-resistant reconstruction in northern Japan.