Sakura Children Redux

A woman in Miyagi Prefecture washes a shoe found in the wreckage of her house.

About nine months ago, I asked you for postcards for the children of Miyagi Prefecture–a part of Japan leveled, first by an earthquake, and then by a tsunami–a tidal wave that washed so far inland that factories, houses, schools, stores collapsed under water and vanished, along with thousands of children, parents, workers, and teachers.  The devastation hit at the time of the cherry blossom (Sakura) festival, delicate blossoms blooming over devastation.

The postcards were a simple way to let the children know they were not forgotten, that someone cared about them, thought about them, wished them well.

You sent postcards–some of you asked your quilt clubs and Sunday School groups to make them, some of you got your classes and your children to make cards. The first week, I sent thank-you cards for each card that arrived, and then, as cards arrived without names, I thanked you from here. I thought I’d get a few. You sent me hundreds.

With help (many people helped forge the connections), I found a contact in Japan, and sent off the postcards. Some of you sent money to help cover the postage. I never knew if the postcards arrived, or what happened to them.

The postcards in display for the town of Ibaraki, Japan

Until today. I got a package from Japan–a book filled with images of the damage and destruction of Miyagi prefecture. (The picture at the top of the post is from that book.) There was a letter and photos tucked into the book.

The letter said, in part:

Thank you very much for your kindness.
I saw all of the cards.
I’m very impression.
Kitaiharaki City people saw those cards.
I’m thinking bring those cards for elementary school of another city.
I wanted show children worried about Japanese earthquake.
Umehana teacher is thanks to you and children!
She appreciation about that! SO MUCH!

I didn’t “fix” the words because I appreciate the struggle that went into answering me in English–I don’t speak, read or write Japanese, so who am I not to appreciate any effort to write me in English so I can understand the thoughts?

Your postcards in Japan.

What a gift–to know that the postcards were received and appreciated–put on display for all the people in one city to see, and then moved to another city for display.

I recognized some of the cards, I love the idea that they made it and someone hung each one of them.

To all of you who made and sent cards–you helped heal a pain, comforted a loss, sent strength and understanding. Art heals. It doesn’t get better than that. Thank you for helping, thank you for making art. Thank you for taking your time and making the effort to heal through art.

Quinn McDonald is grateful.

Sakura Postcards: Off to Japan

Today was the day–after many posts, and many trips to the post office, the Sakura children are just a week away from getting their postcards. Today they went in the mail. Postponing seemed reasonable as long as the cards kept arriving.  No card-maker should feel left out. Finally the cards slowed down. I had three pounds of post cards. That’s a lot.

The first cards got a card and a hand-written thank you note. When I couldn’t keep up, I sent emails when I knew who sent them. I piled all the envelopes and cards into a box, and one day, I dropped the box, and the slip that kept the thanked cards from the unthanked cards floated across the room.

To all of you who remain unthanked, please accept my gratitude now. Your cards are amazing works of art, of kindness, of generosity, of giving.

To those of you who sent money, thank you so much. After three trips to the post office, and three different suggestions of how to send them, with three different prices, they fit, so they shipped. It cost just under $45 in postage, and I’m grateful for the help.

While I am sorry I did not send individual thank you cards, I’m hoping that seeing a display here (and many more here, and many more on my Flickr site, here) will convey some idea of how grateful I am.

Thank you for sharing your art for no more than a request. It will be a story the children long remember, and I hope someday an adult in Japan, who still has her postcard, will do what I did–and repeat the cycle.

–Quinn McDonald still has the postcard sent to her to make her feel welcome.

Sakura Postcard Update

Note: I’ve received more poscards than these from Angie and Bo. I’m learning how to make videos, and wanted to post this now. There will be another video with more cards later this week. Thanks for all who are sending cards.

This weekend, two more people gave me postcards for the Sakura children.

I’m gathering postcards for the children who went through the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. These children had every right to expect a normal life, and now their lives will be forever changed. You can read a previous part here. And see more postcards for the kids here. I called them the Sakura children, because Sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese. One of the heartbreaking facts was that the Cherry Blossom Festival, culturally important in Japan for parents and children, was cancelled this year because the terrible destruction made it impossible.

Cherry blossoms had been ripped from the trees by wind and water, and many parents and children weren’t alive to celebrate. Others were separated, lost, or injured.

You’ll love these postcards. The first set were made by artist Angie Platten, with the help of the children she teaches in her art classes. The second set are photographs from Bo Mackison at Seeded Earth studio.

You can still send make and send postcards to:

Sakura Children
P.O. Box 12183
Glendale, AZ 85318

“Sakura” means Cherry Blossom in Japanese.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist and creativity coach.