Junior Writers Reporting

NPO recycles paper cranes; sends stationary to other countries

The Thousand Cranes Project for a Hopeful Future is an NPO based in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, recycling paper cranes offered at the Cenotaph and other monuments in Peace Memorial Park. First, they turn the paper cranes into recycled paper. Then they produce notebooks and memo pads. They sell those recycled paper goods at the Rest House in the Peace Memorial Park. This year, the recycled paper will also be used for paper lanterns that will be floated on the Motoyasu River during the memorial service for the spirits of the deceased on August 6 (Toronagashi).

Paper cranes drenched by rain at the Children’s Peace Monument in Peace Park appeared pitiful to Yuzo Yoshikiyo, 64, director of the NPO office, and his friends. Wanting to do something for the cranes, they founded the NPO in October 2002. Now, they recycle paper cranes not only from Hiroshima but also those offered at memorial monuments for victims of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, the Battle of Okinawa and the air raid in Kochi.

In spring 2012, they launched a new activity. Contracting with social welfare facilities they hire disabled people to pull paper cranes into pieces, then sell the recycled goods. At present, 20 social welfare facilities take part in this activity.

Anyone can help pull paper cranes into pieces, irrespective of age or ability. Therefore, elementary school students and university students can work together. Sometimes, students visiting Hiroshima on peace education field trips also join the activity. Selling the goods can help disabled people earn an income.

The NPO sends recycled notebooks and ballpoint pens to Cambodia, Afghanistan, and other countries where reconstruction from war damage is still underway. Group leader Mayumi Shigematsu, 64, says “This not only helps the people who receive the goods, it also helps those who send the goods to learn and care about other countries. That’s a meaningful aspect.”

They hope to expand their activity. They want to help more directly with the recovery process by, for example, sending artificial legs to children who have lost their legs to landmines. (Daichi Ishii, 16 and Shiho Fujii, 11)

(Originally published on June 11, 2013)