These activities - part of the Aranda Primary School Community Environment Program - centred on two key events:
The story of Sadako Sasaki was a central component of these observances. Sadako was just two when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. While she suffered no immediate injury the effects of her exposure caught up with her some ten years later and the story outlines her courageous battle with leukaemia. During this she began to fold a thousand paper cranes so that her wish for good health would come true. She died before completing her task. Her fellow students folded the remainder of the cranes which were buried with her.
Sadako’s courage and faith inspired her friends, and students from
across the world, to raise money for a memorial to the children who were
innocent victims of the atomic bomb. Each year children and adults from all
over the world fold a thousand paper cranes to be taken to the Children’s
Monument in the Peace Park in Hiroshima.
The cranes are placed at the foot of the monument where the inscription reads:
‘This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.’
The Aranda Primary School community activities took several forms:
Between the two key events we received the first material in a cultural exchange with Hakushima Primary School in Hiroshima. This material included stories written by students from their observance of the 50th anniversary in Hiroshima, student artwork and photographs, and a step-by-step guide on how to fold paper cranes. This exchange was established with the assistance of Mr Shin Yoshida of Community Link International and the Hiroshima Board of Education.
'Hakushima Elementary School in Hiroshima lies right next to Hiroshima Castle, which was originally built in 1589. Being just one kilometre from the centre of the atomic bomb blast on 6 August 1945, the castle, the school and the whole neighbourhood were completely destroyed.
'Today Hakushima school is a four-storey building with 839 students in 26 classes, and some 44 staff, including five cooks and a dietician! All students, staff and visitors remove their shoes before entering the buildings, so you can imagine how big the storage facilities have to be for nearly a thousand pairs of shoes!
'I was pleased to be able to present the Principal with artwork, stories and letters prepared by our students. He expressed great interest in the range of activities shown in photographs of school life at Aranda and in our students’ painting techniques which apparently are quite different from those used by Japanese students. He was very interested in the life of our students from the Australian Institute of Sport and was pleased to receive the letters written by the athletes from The Swans class.
'I presented the Principal with a copy of the school handbook and a school badge, as well as a number of gifts - a picture book of Canberra, a boomerang with the school emblem (he intended to practice in private with this!) and an Aboriginal design of a white crane dreaming. He was delighted with the crane as a link with the paper cranes our students folded earlier in the year as a gesture of peace and friendship.
'When I explained that we had planted white cherry blossom trees to
mark Peace Day in
August1995, the Principal pointed out that the Hakushima school emblem is a white cherry blossom. We saw these trees as another symbol of the friendship between our two schools.
The Principal pointed out that there are some eucalypts planted in the school grounds which would also remind them of their friends in Australia (he was hoping to install some koalas in these trees).
'Hakushima school has deep and on-going links with the atomic bomb blast and the quest for peace. This is due partly to the destruction of the original school and the death of many of its students and staff in the blast and subsequent fires. Most families in the school have directly experienced some personal loss in the blast. In addition, the Hiroshima Peace Park lies just a few hundred metres from the school as a constant reminder, and most of the students go up to the high school which Sadako Sasaki was attending when she became ill from radiation sickness and died at age 12.
'Because they can identify so strongly with Sadako and the thousands of other children who died as a result of the atomic bomb, Hakushima students take very seriously both her story and the symbolic folding of paper cranes as a gesture of love and hope for a peaceful future.'
Last modified 03 January 2005
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