My parents were refugees when they arrived here. Four wooden crates, combined to a size of a medium refrigerator and a small top-loading washer, spoke for the first four decades of the lives of my parents and my two brothers. Those boxes contained everything–bedding, towels, clothing, shoes, books, kitchenware, toys (I remember only one), and what was left of their life. No furniture, no appliances, and certainly no TV, car, lawnmower, ladder, buckets or all the other items a family of four would accumulate to make up a life.
I was born the next year, so I don’t remember the first desperate weeks. What I do remember is that I never knew we were poor. We played tag and ball outside, climbed trees, and used our imaginations. At night, we would lie outside and my Father would tell us about the stars or tell stories. My oldest brother would read stories and poems he was learning in school. We didn’t have a TV till I was 16 years old. One of my most precious possessions from that time, so important that I have it still, was a postcard sent by a family friend. On one side was an image of an exotic place, on the other side was. . .a message just for me. “Wish you were here.” I has been in every room, apartment, condo, and house I’ve owned. It was in the studio when the house burned in 2003, and I have what is left of it still.
Postcards are small art works, sent from the heart. They confirm affection, being missed, being included, being thought of. How could they not be wonderful?
When the earthquake collapsed Fukushima, Japan, and washed away homes, towns, cars, boats, and thousands of lives, my heart clenched. I saw children homeless, having lost everything, standing in refugee centers. I sent money, but I wanted to
do more. I remembered that precious postcard and decided that a small piece of handmade art could still be precious. Could let a child know they were remembered, thought of, prayed for, cherished, even in such bleak circumstances. I cannot send enough money, I can’t go there and work or comfort people, but I can send a piece of handmade art, because art speaks directly to the heart, no translators needed.
When I asked people to send postcards to me so I could forward them to the children, I had no idea how many would come. I thought people might send me a postcard or two. But the postcards have started to come in. In envelopes. In bunches. I smiled with the first ones, and cried when I pulled more envelopes out of the post office box. I thought I’d share the first ones with you here, and encourage you to make yours, too, and send them in. They don’t have to be perfect, or wonderful. Just made with love.
Thank you so much Tonia in Phoenix, Bo in Tucson (on her way back to Madison!), Anne in Australia and Bea in Redondo Beach, California. Thanks for taking the time and spending money on postage. You remind me of the truth of what Mother Theresa said: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
If you haven’t made a postcard yet, I am happy to get more. Send them to: Sakura Children c/o
P.O. Box 12183
Glendale, AZ 85318 PLEASE DO NOT SEND POSTCARDS–ALL HAVE BEEN MAILED.
You can see larger versions of the postcards on my Flickr site.
–-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and writer who is thrilled to know that friends and strangers alike care for others.