Photos and story by Olav A. Saltbones with the Norwegian Red Cross
Nanae Katayama gave birth to her third child on March 24 in a Red Cross hospital in Ishinomaki, Japan – 13 days after an earthquake and tsunami devastated communities along Japan’s northeast coast. The 31-year-old mother explains how she saved her children from the waves:
“I was in the house by myself, when the earthquake occurred. I put my head under the table, the things fell off but the house stayed still. Next moment I thought about my little boys in the nursery, whether it is safer to pick them up and bring them back to the house where things are everywhere, or let them stay there. The neighbors started to come out of the house, so I did. My friend was going to pick up her son at the same nursery, so I went with her and collected my two sons. I ran up to the hilly area with kids in both my hands and in my stomach.
Afterward, I was told that the tsunami hit the nursery 5 to 10 minutes later than that. Now a car is hanging off the entrance gate of the nursery and possibility of some children lost their lives. If I didn’t get a lift with my friend at that time, I would never ever have been able to hold my sons’ hands again. When I think about it, it is really scary. On top of the luck I didn’t lose my sons, now I am very happy to have a (long-awaited baby girl).”