The Center for Peace Education, in partnership with Peace Boat and Pax Christi Pilipinas, organized a Testimony Session with a Hibakusha, Ms. Koko Kondo, titled: “Every second counts for the survivor!” on 23 August 2021 in commemoration of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Tragedy.
Dr. Loreta Castro opened the session by warmly welcoming the participants, partners and guest speaker to the activity. She shared the importance of this opportunity to be in direct conversation with a nuclear bomb survivor. This not only raises awareness and solidarity to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons but also contributes to reaching our dream of a nuclear-free world.
After the welcome remarks, Ms. Rika Watanabe gave a brief introduction of the Peace Boat and their program which led to this session, the Hibakusha Project Online. It started in October 2020 which aims to share the stories of Hibakusha online, and remind us of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. She then called on the guest speaker, Ms. Koko Kondo, a prominent survivor of the Hiroshima bombing.
Being less than a year old when the bombing happened, Ms. Koko does not have any memories of that day. But as a child, she remembers seeing women with disfigured body parts due to the aftereffects of being exposed to radiation. These women would come to the church, and she recalled her shock when she saw the hand of the woman combing her hair to have no more fingers. She later learned that their city was destroyed by one bomb.
Being deeply angered by this, she promised to take revenge against the people who annihilated their city. However, contrary to her rage and promise of retaliation, she later found forgiveness after meeting the co-pilot of Enora Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. She realized that her anger was put in the wrong place, that it was not right to hate the people in war but rather the anger should be put at the war itself. She later found her way to working for peace and advocating to end nuclear weapons. Ms. Koko ended her talk empowering the youth to dream and work for a better world without nuclear weapons.
Ms. Koko’s story touched the heart of many of the participants with their sharing of their reflections and gratitude to Ms. Koko for her impassioned sharing. This was emphasized with the sharing of Ms. Nadine Aro from MCHS Pax Christi and Ms. Dalisay Serrano of Soka Gakkai International-Philippines.
The session was closed by Dr. Gail Galang echoing the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and the importance of coming together towards a nuclear-free world. She encouraged the participants to carry peace and nonviolence in their daily lives through rejecting nuclear weapons along with anger and hatred.
The event was hosted by Ms. Bianca Pabotoy, CPE Project Officer and attended by 330 participants from the Miriam College community, partner organizations and other guests.