Font size
  • S
  • M
  • L

ChildFund Japan - Working to Continue Support of Filipino Children Impacted By Typhoon Haiyan -

Pictured are ChildFund Japan Executive Director Mr. Takeshi Kobayashi (L), and Mr. Akihiro Honma (R) of the organization’s Fund Raising Group.  Mr. Honma kindly spoke with us on this occasion.  They are shown standing in front of a map of the Philippines.  Reconstruction support activities are currently being undertaken in the country.

Pictured are ChildFund Japan Executive Director Mr. Takeshi Kobayashi (L), and Mr. Akihiro Honma (R) of the organization's Fund Raising Group. Mr. Honma kindly spoke with us on this occasion. They are shown standing in front of a map of the Philippines. Reconstruction support activities are currently being undertaken in the country.

This month's Close Up introduces ChildFund Japan, a specified non-profit organization (NPO). Focusing its efforts on Asian countries such as the Philippines and Nepal, ChildFund Japan is an international non-government organization (NGO) that works to support the healthy development of children. It also aims to assist families and regional communities in achieving self-sustainability. The organization is also engaged in emergency support of refugees and reconstruction activities in response to natural and man-made disasters, as well as responding to regional civil wars. On this occasion, we spoke to Mr. Akihiro Honma of the organization's Fund Raising Group. The topic of discussion was the "Typhoon Haiyan Philippines Emergency and Recovery-Support Project." This project was launched by ChildFund Japan in response to the typhoon that devastated the Philippines in November of 2013.

Q.Please tell us what led to the establishment of ChildFund Japan.

The ChildFund Japan logo, it features an illustration depicting healthy and active children. ©ChildFund Japan

The ChildFund Japan logo, it features an illustration depicting healthy and active children.
©ChildFund Japan

A. It goes all the way back to the post World War Two era. Back then, a private organization from the United States commenced support of Japanese war orphans. The entity that received such support in Japan was called the "Christian Child Welfare Association" (CCWA), and it was established in 1952. It represents the predecessor of the modern ChildFund Japan. Because over the years Japan was fortunate in that it experienced great economic growth, the role of the CCWA as a recipient of support wound down in 1974, and it commenced activities as a support donor to the Philippines in 1975. This transformation from being a country that received support to a country that now gives support is referred to by us as a "transferring of the baton of love." Although our name changed from the CCWA to ChildFund Japan in 2005, we are nevertheless an international NGO that enjoys a long assistance-giving history of approximately 40 years. Currently, we are active in the Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In that we have a vision of "A Global Society that Ensures Every Child the Opportunity to Develop their Full Potential," we offer both educational assistance and also work to develop regional communities in order to support the development of children.

Q.Please tell us about the support activities engaged in by ChildFund Japan.

A. The main axis on which our methods of support rest is the one-to-one sponsorship program whereby a single sponsor is assigned to an individual child. Such a system creates valuable links between sponsors and children. A sponsor can exchange written correspondence with the child they sponsor, and once every year they also receive a record of the child's growth and development. I should point out that donations received are not used solely to support an individual child's education and health. In viewing matters from the medium-to-long term perspective, in order that entire local communities can escape from poverty, donations are also used for activities such as employment training for parents, etc. Furthermore, in that the Philippines represent the main focus of our activities and our main support target, we have projects in place that aim to break the poverty cycle by strengthening regional cooperatives. At the current time, approximately 4,200 children receive support through the sponsorship program. Up until now, approximately 30,000 children have received support.

The ChildFund Japan Annual Report (L); and the bulletin called “SMILES” (R).  The December 2013 edition of “SMILES” featured an article entitled “Small Voices, Big Dreams.”  Both publications can be viewed as PDF documents on the ChildFund Japan website.  ©ChildFund Japan

The ChildFund Japan Annual Report (L); and the bulletin called "SMILES" (R).
The December 2013 edition of "SMILES" featured an article entitled "Small Voices, Big Dreams."
Both publications can be viewed as PDF documents on the ChildFund Japan website.
©ChildFund Japan

Q.In November last year, a massive typhoon hit the Philippines head-on. Please tell us about the damage caused at that time.

A. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the biggest on record, struck the Philippines on November 8th, 2013. Although we have given support in response to damage caused by typhoons in the Philippines in the past, the scale of destruction on this occasion was in a totally different league. As of February of 2014, over 6,000 people have been confirmed dead and more than 16 million others have been impacted. ChildFund Japan helps operate some 17 cooperative centers within the country. Three of these centers recorded damage in the local areas they support. Concerning the most heavily-damaged area, at one stage contact was completely lost. On the 19th of November some 11 days after the typhoon, we happily confirmed all the children in that area who receive our support and their families were safe. However, of 250 households, some 210 either lost their homes completely or suffered serious damage. Moreover, both agricultural land and agricultural produce were seriously impacted by the typhoon.

Mr. Honma intently listens to the damage experienced by a woman who was formerly a sponsored child; she now has three children of her own.  The woman said "everybody in our family is safe, but the first floor of our house was completely inundated by water." ©ChildFund Japan   Mr. Honma intently listens to the damage experienced by a woman who was formerly a sponsored child; she now has three children of her own. The woman said "everybody in our family is safe, but the first floor of our house was completely inundated by water."
©ChildFund Japan

A Filipino woman shown standing in front of her house, which is on the brink of collapse. She told Mr. Honma about the scale of destruction while he was walking around the town surveying the damage.
©ChildFund Japan
  A Filipino woman shown standing in front of her house, which is on the brink of collapse.  She told Mr. Honma about the scale of destruction while he was walking around the town surveying the damage. ©ChildFund Japan

Q.What sort of emergency support was carried out by ChildFund Japan?

A. We commenced emergency support measures on November 11th, three days after the typhoon struck. Firstly, we distributed emergency supplies such as water, food and everyday necessities, etc. After this, little-by-little we offered support in the form of helping to repair damaged housing and improving agricultural land, etc. From the 19th of November, we started coordinating our efforts with the ChildFund Alliance* in carrying out both emergency and reconstruction support. At 12 locations in the central Philippines that were heavily damaged, the alliance has targeted some 12,000 households or approximately 60,000 people to whom support is being offered. This support takes the form of distributing emergency supplies including food, medical support, and support that aims to protect children's welfare.

*The ChildFund Alliance is an international network of 12 organizations that work to support children in developing countries.

As emergency support, ChildFund Japan distributed food to 1,000 households in Ormoc City on Leyte.  The blue bags held by these children contain 6kg of rice, four packets of instant noodles and nine canned food items.  (Reported on the ChildFund Japan Facebook page on November 25th, 2013) ©ChildFund Japan   As emergency support, ChildFund Japan distributed food to 1,000 households in Ormoc City on Leyte. The blue bags held by these children contain 6kg of rice, four packets of instant noodles and nine canned food items. (Reported on the ChildFund Japan Facebook page on November 25th, 2013)
©ChildFund Japan

Q.I believe you visited the area in December, what was the situation like?

Mr. Honma on arriving at Tacloban Airport, the roof was missing and the luggage belt-conveyor not operating.  Despite being partially destroyed, the airport remained open. ©ChildFund Japan

Mr. Honma on arriving at Tacloban Airport, the roof was missing and the luggage belt-conveyor not operating. Despite being partially destroyed, the airport remained open.
©ChildFund Japan

A. In December of last year I visited Tanawan on Leyte, an area that ChildFund Japan had supported up until 1999. For the purpose of carrying out a survey of the damage and helping to better structure our support activities, I visited the area as part of a four person team, being accompanied by three of our Filipino staff members. Our visit started when we arrived at Tacloban Airport. The airport buildings had no roof, no walls and no electrical power. From here we set off by car to Tanawan. I recall being literally shell-shocked by the fact that almost all the houses lining the road were either totally or partially destroyed. I also recall seeing a school with both a damaged roof and twisted steel girders.

Q.And how would you describe the children?

A. When walking around town, children would come over shouting "picture, picture," and they would kindly smile for the camera. It felt strange taking photos of smiling children against a landscape of destroyed buildings. Such experiences made me feel there was cheerfulness in the Filipino people not easily defeated. When conducting the interviews necessary to grasp the situation, however, I sensed that perhaps the children were not so cheerful after all upon witnessing a discussion. On seeing a young girl speak while crying, and a young boy lost for words, etc., I realized that many of these children are trying their utmost to survive, having lost both loved ones and their homes, and also being burdened with psychological scars. Perhaps those who smiled for the camera were straining to do so while also carrying a heavy heart.

While children smiled for the camera in front of destroyed buildings ©ChildFund Japan
in group discussions some like this young girl spoke through tears when they recalled the damage inflicted ©ChildFund Japan

While children smiled for the camera in front of destroyed buildings (L),
in group discussions some like this young girl spoke through tears when they recalled
the damage inflicted (R). To each individual Filipino child, Typhoon Haiyan delivered an experience that was both sad and very difficult to cope with.
©ChildFund Japan

Q.In the future, how will you continue the process of supporting impacted areas?

A. Going forward, we will evolve from providing emergency support to supporting reconstruction efforts. More specifically, in addition to psychological care for children, and providing study environments to those who have lost places to learn, we also plan to support pre-school children and their parents, as well as young people both in terms of their livelihoods and job support. Furthermore, concurrent to supporting the repair of facilities; we are working to implement support whose perspective is more medium-to-long term. For fisherman, keepers of livestock, and other farmers who lost their way of life, in addition to livelihood support, we aim to support the development of communities that can stand strong in face of disasters, etc., these being communities that can also protect children.

In wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a pamphlet was prepared that offered hints to adults having interactions with children who experienced disasters. Prepared by ChildFund Japan in consultation with the Department of Clinical Psychology of the Japan Lutheran College and Seminary, it is available for download from the ChildFund Japan website in PDF format. ©ChildFund Japan   In wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a pamphlet was prepared that offered hints to adults having interactions with children who experienced disasters.  Prepared by ChildFund Japan in consultation with the Department of Clinical Psychology of the Japan Lutheran College and Seminary, it is available for download from the ChildFund Japan website in PDF format.  ©ChildFund Japan

Q.Finally, please convey a message to our readers.

A boy who was unable to study diligently before the typhoon; "Currently, I am applying for a scholarship.  My hope is to go to college and major in politics because I want to make a contribution to helping this country recover." ©ChildFund Japan

A boy who was unable to study diligently before the typhoon; "Currently, I am applying for a scholarship. My hope is to go to college and major in politics because I want to make a contribution to helping this country recover."
©ChildFund Japan

A. In that immediately after Typhoon Haiyan it was covered in Japan as a major news story, we were fortunate enough to receive a large volume of donations. However, as the reporting has tailored off, so have the donations. That being said, to begin with the Philippines is a country with numerous regions where poverty is rife. If such a country is damaged to the extent that the ability of people to sustain their livelihoods is destroyed, then breaking the chains of the poverty cycle becomes even more difficult, and even greater time is required to recover from such momentous events. Thus, it is very important to offer support for reconstruction on an ongoing basis.

Mr. Honma, who had an opportunity to see the onsite damage himself said, "Current levels of support are totally insufficient."

Mr. Honma, who had an opportunity to see the onsite damage himself said, "Current levels of support are totally insufficient."

When we held some group discussions, there was a boy who expressed his feelings as follows: "Before the typhoon, I was not that diligent in my studies. However, from now on I intend to study as hard as possible, I really want to try hard in order to contribute to the recovery of this country." I was strongly moved on hearing the desire of such children impacted by the disaster to "work at the recovery themselves." Supporting such children will help establish the future Philippines. Thus, I would ask that people cooperate with our activities while viewing matters from the long-term perspective.