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Firefighters send love message to Japanese kids
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Sixteen Ceres firefighters gathered recently to pose for this photo with a message for those children in Japan whose lives have been in a state of upheaval since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This photo was emailed to the students and it reportedly made them smile and lifted their spirits. - photo by Contributed by Don Cool

Life is still not back to normal in Japan, which was devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and Ceres firefighters have, in a small way, reached out to encourage children displaced by the disaster.

The City of Ceres Fire Department heard about the ongoing challenges facing the children evacuated from Fukushima, Japan following the earthquake, tsunami and devastating nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011 and decided to send a message of hope with a photograph stating, "We love You Fukushima!"

Amy Mitchell, the city's new human resources analyst, has a connection to Japan through a friend, Diego Dardon, who worked with her in Los Banos. Both lost their jobs and in August Diego went to Japan to teach English to students. He was assigned to teach nearly 700 children who were evacuated and displaced from the disaster and temporarily living in two sites: Namie Tsushima where 10 teachers are teaching 40 students; and in Kita Ko where a staff of 70 are attending to 650 students.

"He tells me they're so depressed," said Mitchell. "They don't know if they will get to go back home. They don't have jobs. He said they would be touched if Americans knew them and reached out."

The Ceres Fire Department gathered for a group photo and posed with a sign that read "We Love You Fukushima!" The photo was emailed to Japan and shown to the kids.

The children housed and schooled at Namie Tsushima were evacuated from Namie-Machi, a small town in the exclusion zone that was devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and radiation fallout. Kita Ko includes evacuees from Tomioka, an abandoned town on the coast of Fukushima, who experienced the triple effect, located at the site of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition to the emotion distress, the students are constantly being monitored for signs of cancer and radiation illnesses.

Mr. Dardon shared that hearing Americans acknowledge those evacuated from Fukushima will boost the children and staff's morale.