MOMMY WHERE ARE YOU?
Several hundred children have lost their parents in the March 11 Tohoku earthquake-tsunami disaster in North-East Japan.
Orphans are longingly looking at the sea, apparently hoping they will be reunited with their parents. Some smile more than usual, as if trying to drive away loneliness!
Manami is one of the many children whose parents have died or remain unaccounted for since the tsunami struck coastal towns in Japan.
She was at her nursery school when the violent quake struck on March 11. Her mother picked her up soon afterward and they went to their home, located on high ground overlooking an inlet. Their house stood next to a local primary school, designated as a safe evacuation center, but the massive tsunami struck with dark mud waves reaching a height of over 30 meters.
Manami's parents and her 2-year-old sister were swept away by the receding waters. Only Manami has survived. She was saved because her nursery school bag on her back became entangled in fishing nets.
When her grandmother Shizue Neki finally found her one week after the tsunami in a center for survivors, she was worried by the change in her usually lively granddaughter's appearance.
"She looked so sad and said nothing. I thought she'd forgotten how to speak," said Shizue.
On the afternoon of March 22, Manami announced she would write a letter to her mother. She opened her notebook, took up a colored pencil and began writing in the hiragana characters she had just learned in school.
Over the course of nearly an hour, she wrote:
I hope you are alive.
Are you well?
Soon afterward, she fell asleep.
This is the heartbreaking letter written by the 4-year-old Manami Kon.
Manami has begun to smile again, but she will not go near her destroyed house; a look of pain sometimes flashes across her face.
Shizue wants Manami to stay at her house, but the girl will not agree.
“I’ll wait here until Mom comes to fetch me,” she says.
“Will Papa call me?” Manami asks, holding tight to her father's silver cell phone, with the power turned on.