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In Japan, parents try to go on: 'My child should come home to me' - CNN.com - 0 views

  • "I'm not OK," she says, still smiling as if she's talking about the weather. "Of course I'm not. But I have another son."

    Naganuma's other son, eight-year-old Koto, is missing. Koto was at Ishinomaki Okawa Elementary School the day the tsunami hit. The 108 students, as they'd practiced before, evacuated when the earthquake struck, says Naganuma.

  • The students had no idea the tsunami was coming. Out of the 108, 77 are presumed dead or missing. Koto is among the missing, his body still not recovered.

    "Ran saw the tsunami," says Naganuma. "His brother is not coming home. So I think he understands. I can see he's pretending to be happy, so we don't worry about him."

  • From blanket to blanket, families recount their own losses. But it's the deaths of all the children at the elementary school that pains this community most.

    At the elementary school, young fathers dig with shovels alongside rescuers. The school is a shell, its inside gutted by the force of the tsunami.

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  • Next to the school, backpacks sit in rows, waiting to be identified and retrieved. The piles of school mementos are all mud-covered -- from the school little league team to the bats they used.
  • With so much work to do for these parents, there's no time to think about grieving, says aid organization Save the Children. The nonprofit group hopes to ease the onslaught of trauma, by setting up "child-friendly spaces" at evacuation centers up and down the northern Japan coastline.
  • The purpose, she says, is to give the children "a sense of safety and to actually also work with the parents on how to support them on this process. It's going to be a long recovery process for children who've experienced this extreme devastation."
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