Sadako Elementary School promotes peace education in Pakistan

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

An elementary school dedicated to peace education has been established in Pakistan in Azad Kashmir (Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir), where a territorial dispute with India continues. Local residents, after suffering a devastating earthquake in 2006, were inspired to build the school when they heard the story of Hiroshima, which rose again from the ashes of the atomic bombing. Photos depicting life at the school have been shared with ANT-Hiroshima, a Hiroshima-based non-profit organization, which has been interacting with the local residents.

The name of the school is Sadako Elementary School and it is located in Chela Bandi, on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kasimir. A non-governmental organization, whose members are local residents, built the facility, which officially opened in August 2008. Currently, 120 children who have suffered from the earthquake or the conflict with India attend the school.

The idea of building the school was born when residents read a children’s book about Sadako Sasaki, published by ANT-Hiroshima. ANT members visited Azad Kashmir in 2006 to provide aid to the victims of the earthquake and shared the story of Sadako at that time.

Moved by Sadako’s spirit in her fight against leukemia, in which she bravely never lost hope, as well as the example of Hiroshima’s reconstruction, they became determined to build the school and transform their conflict-troubled city into a city of peace.

Tomoko Watanabe, 55, the executive director of ANT-Hiroshima is calling for donations to support the school’s operations, saying, “I’m truly happy that they have understood Hiroshima’s wish for peace.”

(Originally published on March 26, 2009)

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