Two Hiroshima children start wall newspaper for evacuees

Kyodo

To encourage Hiroshima residents sheltering in the city’s elementary school following last week’s deadly landslides, two students launched the first edition of an illustrated handwritten wall newspaper.

The newspaper was launched Sunday by 12-year-old Hiroyo Miyamoto, who is in her first year of junior high school. She graduated from Bairin Elementary School, which is now serving as an emergency shelter for 600 in Asaminami Ward residents.

Miyamoto said she came up with the idea from the Fight Shimbun published by children who took refuge at an evacuation center in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Miyamoto, who has been living at the school since last Wednesday, asked Bairin fifth-grader Yuna Michigami, 11, to provide illustrations for the newspaper because she is good at drawing.

“I wanted to provide the evacuees, many of whom are going through hard times and dealing with stress, with helpful information and some positive news,” Miyamoto said.

The articles and illustrations in the newspaper, which is named Fight! Bairin Shimbun, are being created in a sketchbook using markers donated to the children as relief supplies.

Miyamoto and Michigami decided to make a controversy over toilet slippers the lead story for their first edition.

The two noticed that some of evacuees were quarreling about the disorderly state that toilet slippers were being left in after use.

“We wanted to make the shelter a more comfortable place,” one of the girls said.

So they checked whether toilet slippers were lined up neatly in each toilet in the building and listed the number of pairs that weren’t. By printing the tallies in the newspaper, they urged evacuees to show a little more consideration to others so everyone can live more comfortably.

“We hope that (the newspaper) will help people understand what problems the disaster victims are facing,” Miyamoto said, who added that wants to deliver news to the evacuees on a daily basis.

The copies were enlarged and posted on the walls of the school by the vice principal.

Evacuee Yoshiko Uehara, 81, said the young journalists are helping people cope with the various problems associated with communal living.

“The children’s hard work makes us think (of the situation) in a more positive way,” she said.

A woman in her 60s said “they have brightened the atmosphere of the shelter.”