Japanese, Haitian and American kids came to the office of HappyDoll, Inc.for the kick-off press event on Tuesday, June 28, of The Global Kids Connect Project GKC). The team is leaving in two days for Haiti! There, a group of 100 Haitian children will get dolls made by the children in Japan and the United States, and they will decorate dolls that will be brought back to the U.S. and given to children in the U.S. and also sent to children in Japan. What a great circle of support for children suffering from trauma. Everyone who hears about the project loves it and “gets” how it makes children all over the world aware of how other children who have suffered through disasters care about them. And it also makes them more aware of the world, since a history lesson in the curriculum of the workshop includes a map to show where the countries are.
The Global Kids Connect Project is the brainstorm of our very own Dr. Judy, who has been helping survivors of disaster all over the world. She cares about Japan as she had spent 12 years back and forth there, doing her radio show live, writing for magazines and newspapers, and teaching at a university. She also is deeply connected to Haiti, as she was the first psychologist to arrive there to set up a training program for mental health support immediately after the earthquake there in January 2010. She was working in Haiti to develop mental health services and to combat poverty, with Father Wismick Jean Charles, a Haitian Catholic priest who is on her team of her NGO accredited at the United Nations, the International Association of Applied Psychology.
In Haiti, Dr. Judy also planned a training program, through a partnership she set up with the Haitian Action for the United Nations. She will teach a group of youth how to give the workshop for the children, so the work gets carried on after she leaves.
Dr. Judy will give the youth a workshop on self-care, to “help the helpers” and also they will learn songs, written in Creole and Japanese by her band, The Stand Up for Peace Project, with her bandmate, international composer Russell Daisey.
One of our group of interns, Becky Houran, is also going, as she studied Japanese for years! One of the TC students who is Haitian is also going.
The kick off event was a huge success and very exciting. We all had such a great time, watching the kids receive the dolls, and draw the dolls for Haiti kids, and do the exercises Dr Judy led them through, and crowd around the map for the lesson by Nozomi Terao, founder of Happy Doll New York chapter.
Besides the children from Japan, Haiti, and America, I represented China, and made dolls too, which was a really exciting experience to me. Since Dr Judy has done earthquake recovery in China, she wants to include Chinese children in the circle of kids who are part of this project of support. The Chinese children would get so excited if they could also exchange dolls with children from other countries and I am sure it will happen in the future. The children in China then could also feel the love and sympathy from children with different cultures. Children are much closer in their souls then adults do.
When Becky and I arrived at 11:30 a.m., lots of people were already it the room at the Happy Doll office, doing preparations. The dolls were on shelves everywhere in the room, which made the environment so cozy. Russell was sitting behind the electronic piano, ready to perform. There were lots of Japanese reporters there, covering the story as it was perfect for them to know the Japanese children were part of it, after going through such a traumatic experience.
The event started at 12:10 pm. Dr. Judy introduced the Global Kids Connect Project. Then we sang the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” which involves clapping your hand, stomping your feet and hugging your friend, accompanied by Russell’s beautiful piano music. We also sang the song in Creole (Russell sang the Creole so professionally!) and in Japanese, since there were so many Japanese people at our event.
Then Dr. Judy explained the importance of communicating caring to children everywhere. Nozomi gave the history lesson, showing the children on the map where were Japan and Haiti.
The kids were so cute, including a Japanese girl with a flower in her hair J.
Then we made the dolls. I made the doll with mostly red (as it represented Chinese culture and it felt warm), with Chinese characters 你好 which means “hello” on the doll’s two legs. I named it “ohayo” simply because I loved the pronunciation of this Japanese word which means “Good morning”. The other kids also made their dolls. Each one was so special, cute and colorful!
After we finished making dolls, we exchanged dolls with one another and hugged each other. We also each explained the meaning of the decoration of our dolls.
Then Dr Judy led us in stress-reduction techniques that she had developed over years in her work all over the world. She had also done trainings in China after an earthquake there, which was so important to me, being Chinese. Collating Chinese recovery work is my project that I am working on with Dr Judy this summer.
Finally, we had a celebration with songs and dance. Dr. Judy and Russell had written a song in Creole after the earthquake in Haiti, which is about rebuilding. It has a phrase, “Nap Rebati, Peyi ya” and Russell taught us the chorus not only in Creole but also in Japanese.
Then Dr Judy taught us a song and dance she had learned when she was working with the camp in Lesotho, Africa. It’s called “That’s the Way It Should Be”, which is my favorite because it makes everyone so close and the room full of love! It was a perfect ending for our event.
We took a group picture together and every one talked and talked and took lots of lovely pictures. Then we celebrated with a nice lunch together, feeling so close as a team. What a lovely way to do something important for the world with such wonderful people. I feel so lucky to be part of this summer with Dr Judy.