Some 23,500 children
(elementary school pupils 3rd grade and higher) had been evacuated
with their classes to towns and villages outside the city. Of these,
2,000 to 6,500 lost their parents(guardians) to the bomb and were
left as orphans. Many other children who had been in Hiroshima at
also lost their parents(guardians). Both of these groups were commonly
referred to as "A-bomb orphans."
In October 1945, the Hijiyama Home for A-bomb Orphans was built at Hijiyama
Elementary School, which suffered only minimal damage from the bombing.
In December, Mr. and Mrs.Yoshinobu Yamashita, in Itsukaichi-cho (now, Saeki-ku),
built another Home for A-bomb Orphans. Other facilities appeared, but some
of the A-bomb orphans, for various reasons, were unable to live in these
facilities. They lived on their own, supporting themselves by shining shoes
and doing odd jobs.
To care for A-bomb orphans and nurture them emotionally, Norman Cousins promoted a Spiritual Adoption program, encouraging "spiritual parents" to send 20 dollars a year for the care of their orphan. The program was popular, and many Americans joined the program. For the ten years from 1950 to 1959, approximately 500 people sent a cumulative total of approximately 20 million yen to help support the children.