JMSA organizes 7th International Outreach for 9/11 to 3/11 Survivor Exchange Program

Back Ground: Now more than six years after the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake, still 68,000 evacuees from disaster stricken areas (470,000 at its peak) continue to suffer the consequences of disaster (April 2018 report by Reconstruction Agency). In particular, children’s emotional wellbeing is concerning as they continue to be displaced away from their communities and show signs of emotional stress. With generous supports of American Airlines Kids in Need Program and Rotary International, our 7th international outreach program will take place throughout disaster stricken areas of Tohoku, Japan.

Goals: We wish to empower school communities with self-motivation toward recovery by showing concrete examples of resilience and people overcoming disasters.

Sadako’s Soaring Crane: Together with American Airlines, we brought an origami crane monument fabricated out of steel recovered from 9/11 on our 1st mission in 2012. This symbol for recovery from the international community dedicated for children’s comfort was inspired by Sadako Sasaki, who died at age 12 from radiation exposure after the bombing of Hiroshima. Sadako’s origami cranes was previously donated to the 9/11 Tribute Center and we made a symbolic return of Sadako’s wish for peace and comfort for children. KyodoNews This time, we will present a wood carved Soaring Crane by Dan Pontecorvo, Retired FDNY Lieutenant & Con Edison Environmental Responder to Ogatsu Rosegarden.

Children’s Storybook: We have published a children’s storybook of late 12 year old girl’s story about strength and courage to move forward and how Sadako’s Soaring Crane monument came to Fukushima. This storybook is touted as a “book of life” and “Hiroshima?NY?Fukushima connected with hope.” We have donated more than 10,000 copies of storybooks to school children in Fukushima. Sequel of the book is in the works in English, Japanese, and Spanish. The story will continue to touch the children around the world. Message On A Wing

Impact of Survivor Exchange Program: We continue to gauge the impact of post-3/11 outreach efforts on both the 3/11 “recipient” community and the 9/11 “donor” community. The success of this outreach program may be partially attributable to the fact that it meets the basic objectives of psychological first aid to “establish human connection in a nonintrusive, compassionate manner”; “support positive coping and empower survivors to take an active role in recovery”; and “facilitate continuity and ensure other sources of support when leaving.”

Organizers / Contact:
Lee A. Ielpi, President, September 11th Families’ Association,
Meri Lobel, Former Curator, 9/11 Tribute Museum,
Craig L. Katz, M.D., Director, Program in Mount Sinai Global Mental Health,
Robert T. Yanagisawa, M.D., President, Japanese Medical Society of America, Co-director of Japan Program, Mount Sinai Global Mental Health,
Ikuyo Yanagisawa, Englewood Rotary President 2013-14, Nara Rotary Foundation Chair,
A Tribute from NY to Japan #7 (July 2018)

  Date Location Event
1 7/8(Sun) Depart US Sat 7/7→ Arrive in Narita, Japan (AA153), Sun 7/8 16:00 Flight to Japan
2 7/9(Mon) 14:00-14:30 Meeting with the Minister Yoshino of Reconstruction Agency of Japan Greetings with the Minister
3 7/9(Mon) Welcome dinner with Mount Sinai Global Health Medical Students studying in Fukushima (Ana and Daniel) Welcome Dinner
4 7/10(Tue) 16:30-18:30 Fukushima Medical University, Medical Student Reactions to Disaster after 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake: Motivation and Posttraumatic Growth Meeting with FMU Students
5 7/11(Wed) Depart Hotel lobby at 8:30am by Bus to (2.5hrs) Ogatsu
13:00pm Dan’s Soaring Crane Presentation by Meri
Soaring Crane Presentation
6 7/11(Wed) 13:30-15:00pm Ogatsu Rose Garden, Mr. Tokumizu, former 5th grade teacher of Ogatsu Elementary School Garden Visit
3/11 Story
7 7/11(Wed) Bus to (1hr) Ishinomaki, 16:30-18:00pm 9/11 to 3/11 exchange at Mental Health Clinic “Kara Koro Station” Dialogue
8 7/11(Wed) 19:00-20:30pm Dinner meeting with Kara Koro Station staff
Hotel – Hotel Route Inn Ishinomaki
Dinner meeting
9 7/12(Thur) 8:00 Bus (2hrs) to Soma
10:00 Soma Requiem Memorial Visit
Memorial Visit
10 7/12(Thur) 11:30-14:00 9/11 to 3/11 exchange at Public Housing Community Center, Kitahara, Minami Soma Reconstruction Public Housing Dialogue
11 7/12(Thur) 15:00-15:30 Soma -Mental Health Clinic, KCN-Nagomi, Fukushima 15:30 Bus back (2hrs) to Koriyama Discussion
12 7/12(Thu) 17:30 “Soaring Crane” Memorial Kaiseizan Park, Koriyama Memorial
13 7/12(Thu) 18:30 Mr. Kin-ichi Takahashi and Koriyama West Rotary Club formal dinner, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Koriyama Reception
14 7/13(Fri) 8:30 depart hotel, bus to Tomioka Town (2hrs)
10:30-11:30 “Otagai sama” center, Tomioka Town Fukushima, dialogue with 3/11 docents
15 7/13(Fri) 12:00-15:00 Tour of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Nuclear Power Plant visit
16 7/13(Fri) 16:00-17:00 Discussion with students of Futaba Future School
Futaba Future School
Dialogue with Students
17 7/14(Sat) Depart Narita International 7/15 (Sat) → Arrive in US 7/15 (Sat)
AA154 17:55
Flight to US


2018 Travelers:
Jeanette Gutierrez (Survivor) and Meri Lobel (resident, former Curator of the 9/11 Tribute Museum)
Anthony Palmeri (DSNY retired and Firefighter) and Craig Katz, MD (Director of Global Mental Health)
Ann Van Hine (Widow FDNY), Joyce Grossbard (Englewood Rotary, psychotherapist)
Maya Katz (High School of American Studies) and Julia Gardner and Julia (Hastings High School)
Ana Rodriguez and Daniel Afonin (Global Health medical students)
Robert Yanagisawa (JMSA/Global Health) and Ikuyo Yanagisawa (Nara Rotary)
Additional useful information about our project on the web:
3-11 and 9-11 Survivor Stories at the Asia Society in New York 3/2016:
We were selected among “Innovative Disaster Responses: Model Approaches from Japan’s 3/11 Disaster” by Japan Center for International Exchange (please download the text)


Photos from the past trips are here:

9.11-3.11 Photovoice Poster Jacob