Funakoshi Elementary School-Post 3/11
On my recent trip to Yamada I was able to visit the principal at Funakoshi Elementary School. This school was completely washed away by the March 11th tsunami. With some generous contributions made this year by the Japan Women’s Conference, my godmother and other anonymous donors, we were able to make a long overdue donation. The principal asked if it was all right to wait until the spring to use the money as they had limited storage space in the temporary building.
While chatting with the principal in one of the make shift offices, an older gentlemen came in with a tray of tea. The principal proudly introduced him as Mr. Tashiro, the employee responsible for encouraging the full and immediate evacuation of all the children on March 11, 2011. Consequently, even though the tsunami completely flattened the school, not one single child or adult was harmed at that school. I explained to the two gentlemen that I had read an article on-line describing Mr. Shuzo Tashiro’s efforts. The article explained that Tahshiro had been taught at an early age that the only response is to run to higher ground. Saying:
At a primary school called Funakoshi Primary School located in Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, the school itself was designated as a place of shelter as it is located at 13 m above the sea level. 176 school children were evacuated to this school at first, but Mr Shuzo Tashiro (55), a school helper judged the shelter was not enough when he saw the Tsunami wave at the coast. He urged all children and teachers to escape up to 40 m higher hill. Then Tsunami came and swallowed the school. Had he not guided them, all people would have died.
Tashiro quickly chimed in, “yes, yes, that’s right. I don’t care about getting credit for anything, but if people understand from the experience of Funakoshi Elementary school, that no matter what, just run to higher ground, then it’s all worth it.”
It appears the students have adjusted well over the last two years but are excited to move into their new school. They have been housed at a prefectural youth facility known as Rikuchu Kaigan Seishonen-no-Ie, that also houses a couple of other organizations. The children will be moving into the new school being built on higher ground in March or April. The principal was very grateful and promised to contact us in the spring when they made decisions on where to use the funds.
If we collect more donations between now and then, we will make another contribution around the opening of the school.