Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan(AAR Japan) is a Non-Governmental Organization ( NGO ) aiming to provide emergency assistance, assistance to people with disabilities, and mine action, among other operations. It was established in 1979 as an organization with no political, ideological, or religious affiliation. AAR currently has offices in 10 countries.
May 11, 2015

The 4th Children's Festival in Takami Park, Fukushima Prefecture

Carp streamers for the Children
Carp streamers for the Children's Day

May 5th is Children’s Day, a national holiday in Japan. This year, AAR Japan, in collaboration with an NPO called Peace Project, held Children’s Festival at Takami Park in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture. The event aimed at supporting leisure for families with children in Soma and Minamisoma Cities, and attracted more than 500 people.

We put up colorful carp streamers in the park, which is a tradition for Children’s Day to pray for children’s success and health. We also brought mini-bowling, mini-golf, ring toss, bouncy-ball scooping, and balloon playground to the park, which were extremely popular among the participating children. Under beautiful spring weather, children’s joyous laughter echoed throughout the day. 

Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida brought her grandson to the event. They kindly accepted to be interviewed about their family and experience at the event. The couple used to work as farmers, growing cucumbers and garland chrysanthemum,in Odaka District, Minamisoma City, which is 17 kilometers away from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. After the earthquake and nuclear accident, however, they were forced to abandon their home and agricultural land. They now live in a temporary housing complex in Kashima District, Minamisoma City, away from their daughter and grandson. “Our daughter is a single mother, and lives with this boy in Soma City. Even on national holidays, she has to work”, Mrs. Yoshida said. “She brought the event flyer to us, and we decided to come with our grandson. Our age makes it difficult to take our grandson to beach or mountain, but this kind of event is very accessible. We appreciate such an opportunity.”

As for the future prospects, the couple wants to leave the temporary housing complex in April, 2016. However, uncertainty and anxiety linger. Farming is extremely difficult to resume once interrupted. In addition, agricultural and fishery products are hit hard by rumors about radiation, and the rumors do not seem to fade away. They occasionally go back to their home in Odaka District to clean and repair.

After the interview, Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida and their grandson enjoyed the event throughout the day, eating fried-noodles and ball konjac, which AAR Japan offered at the event for free. The grandson also had fun playing in the balloon playground, and with mini-bowling and bingo. At the end of the day, Mr. Yoshida told us, “If there are more of these kinds of events, children can make a lot of good memories in Fukushima. Even when they go out of the prefecture in the future, they can reminisce about their home with full of wonderful memories. Thank you!”

Many families in Minamisoma City are forced to live apart due to the nuclear accident, as seen in the case of the Yoshida family, and as a result they face immense challenges. A number of participants told us events for families with children are much appreciated and they hope for such events in the future. 

AAR staff preparing fried noodles for 300 people
AAR staff preparing fried noodles for 300 people
1,000 ball konjac sticks
1,000 ball konjac sticks
The Yoshida family enjoying mini-bowling
The Yoshida family enjoying mini-bowling
Balloon playground was particularly popular
Balloon playground was particularly popular
Many participants enjoyed the event
Many participants enjoyed the event
Apr 13, 2015

Disaster Risk Reduction Event in Fukushima

Dr Kyung-Wha Kang from OCHA attended the symposium
Dr Kyung-Wha Kang from OCHA attended the symposium

As a parallel event to the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reductionin Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, AAR Japan held Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Event on March 15th and 16th in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture. This two-day event included a music concert and DRR Symposium, in which a total of 1,100 people participated.

 

At the concert, a great number of disaster survivors enjoyed folk songs by Japanese folk singers and the performance of a professional impressionist, mimicking sounds of animals.

 

The symposium held on the next day was informative and thought-provoking. Ms. Kyung-Wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), attended the symposium as a guest speaker. Referring to the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 and its aftermath, she highlighted that “the unique experience of Fukushima offers many lessons for humanitarian crises, not only to improve Japan’s own Disaster Risk Reduction efforts, but also to build a more resilient world.”

 

After the inspiring speech from Dr. Kang, the Soma City Mayor, representatives from local organizations, and physicians working in Soma Region passed on experiences and lessons learned through emergency operations and rehabilitation efforts after the 3.11 Tohoku catastrophe. Panelists also discussed DRR measures to prepare for, mitigate, and better respond to future disasters.

 

Ms. Hideko Igarashi, official storyteller of Soma City Disaster Storyteller Group, was one of the panelists in the symposium and told about her experiences from the disaster. On March 11th, she was working in her guest house near Soma beach when the massive tsunami swept her away. “The tsunami rushed toward us quickly and quietly. The waves dashed against buildings and houses, and increased in its strength. Before I knew it, I was swallowed by the waves,” she recalled. “I could no longer hold onto the hands of my husband and uncle, who were running away with me. I felt fear of death for the very first time in my life”.

 

Unfortunately, Hideko lost her husband and uncle to the tsunami. It was a year later that she decided to become a story-teller, but in the beginning  she had no idea what message to convey to the audience. She sometimes sobbed for the entire session, recalling the day. Today, Hideko has made it her mission to speak about her experiences, while appreciating life and the fact that she survived. She also feels that her husband and uncle are giving her a supportive push.

 

Speaking about the importance being aware of disasters, she stressed that “evacuation is the first and foremost priority when a disaster strikes. We are forgetful beings. We must remember the Great East Japan Earthquake and its lessons, and maintain crisis awareness at all times.”

 

A folk singer and a professional impressionist
A folk singer and a professional impressionist
Disaster survivors enjoyed folk songs
Disaster survivors enjoyed folk songs
Soma City Mayor giving a speech
Soma City Mayor giving a speech
Ms Hideko Igarashi, official storyteller
Ms Hideko Igarashi, official storyteller
Mar 3, 2015

Transformation Planned for the Project

Samuel and Douglas receiving school supplies
Samuel and Douglas receiving school supplies

In Zambia, there are estimated 600,000 children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. Most of these orphans stay with their grandparents, relatives, or their family’s close friends. As many of these adopting families are not wealthy, they are unable to send those HIV/AIDS orphans to school.

AAR Japan, having its office in Lusaka City, has been implementing several projects since 2004 to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. One of the projects is to support HIV/AIDS orphans in their schooling by paying their school fees as well as providing notebooks, uniforms, and other necessary goods. AAR began implementing the schooling support project for more than 100 HIV/AIDS orphans living in N’gombe Compound, a northern suburb of Lusaka City in 2004.

Benson, one of these children who lost his mother to AIDS, was 8 years old when AAR started supporting him. The small boy is now a 17-year-old high school student. Benson has good attendance record in school and maintains great academic performance, always ranking within the 10th place in his class. He is always appreciative of people who support his schooling.

Despite the difficult family situations, the children strive to do well in school, and Benson is one of them. Many of the children say that they wish to have a successful career in the future not only to help their own families but also to give support to any of those who are in dire needs of assistance

Although the guardians of these children were grateful for the schooling support, some of them were not very comfortable with the idea of continuously relying on others. In response to their sentiments, AAR launched income generating activities (IGA) of chicken farming and maize milling to raise children’s schooling expenses and help the guardians improve their earnings.

Esther has been taking a part in the chicken farming of IGA. Her grandson, Eric, is under the support AAR’s schooling project. Steri has been engaging in maize milling since the IGA project began. She lives with one of her grandsons, Moses, who lost his parents to AIDS when he was 5 years old. Thanks to the continuous efforts by the guardians like Esther and Steri, the project generated a net income of about USD 1,125 in 2014, after deducting all expenditures including salaries from the revenue.

As time passed, the situations surrounding the projects have changed. The current number of orphans supported under our schooling project has decreased to 30 as of February 2015 from over 100 at the beginning of the project in 2004, as many of the orphans finished school. As for the IGA project, the guardians have developed necessary skills to generate profits. As such, AAR is considering handing it over to a local committee to enhance autonomy and respect guardians’ own endeavors. Along with the hand-over, we plan to put more emphasis on support for individual children through making changes to the structure of the whole program. From the monitoring and interactions with the orphans, we found that children in the schooling project are in dire need of comprehensive psychosocial care as they have entered puberty. In addition, efforts to enhance guardians’ understanding of the importance of education are necessary. As such we are considering a psychosocial care project, and would like to deactivate the project on GlobalGiving while we go through this transitional phase.

We greatly appreciate all your support. AAR will continue supporting HIV/AIDS orphans in their schooling for a bright future.

N
N'gombe Compound, Lusaka
Benson (second from left in front) at 8 years old
Benson (second from left in front) at 8 years old
Benson (left, 17 years old) and his family
Benson (left, 17 years old) and his family
Eric and Esther
Eric and Esther
Steri and her hammer mill
Steri and her hammer mill

donate now:

Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
    give
  • $15
    give
  • $25
    give
  • $50
    give
  • $100
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $15
    each month
    give
  • $25
    each month
    give
  • $50
    each month
    give
  • $100
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?