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.
Oct 26, 2012

Our Progress on Helping PWDs and Elderly People

Users and workers at new Hinatabokko Care Center
Users and workers at new Hinatabokko Care Center

Introduction of Our Achievements

AAR Japan is implementing many projects in the Tohoku region to help evacuees of the disaster, especially persons with disabilities (PWDs) and elderly people.

In this report we would like to introduce some of the achievements we have accomplished recently (April 2012 onward). We used the generous donations received through GlobalGiving for some of these projects.

“Hinatabokko” – Care center for elderly people
Hinatabokko used to organize welfare services such as sending care workers and registered nurses to homes of elderly people to take care of their daily needs. Also Hinatabokko was a place of gathering and comfort for elderly people in Minami-Sanriku Town in Miyagi Prefecture until March 11th 2011, when the tsunami destroyed the building. Many people in the neighborhood lost their homes and families and evacuated out of the Tohoku region, while some, including PWDs and the elderly, stayed in the community. When Hinatabokko was destroyed, Hinatabokko could no longer operate to provide important and sometimes crucial service to their users. We recognized that the social care service was vital in the disaster-affected area. Therefore, supported by several organizations and donors, AAR Japan helped reconstruct the office building of Hinatabokko, which was completed in August 2012. 

Now more and more people utilize the Hinatabokko building and the service it offers. More than 100 elderly people use the care service and many of them come to talk and relax at Hinatabokko.

“Senshinkai” – Operator of workshops for PWDs
Senshinkai manages various types of workshops to provide hands-on job training and employment for PWDs. One of the workshops is Nozomi Workshop, which receives contract work from local companies for simple labor such as folding envelopes, putting together boxes, and wrapping products. Senshinkai, through its operation, gives valuable work opportunity to PWDs. To rebuild Senshinkai’s main office, AAR Japan, in cooperation with AmeriCares, repaired the building so that Senshinkai staff members can resume their operation to help PWDs in Kesennuma City.

Ogatsu Dental Clinic – Medical Clinic in Ishinomaki City
As our relief activities progress in the Tohoku region, we have seen a transition of needs of the people in the disaster-affected areas. In Miyagi Prefecture, many people still live in temporary housing complex where access to supermarkets, hospitals, clinics, and schools is hindered. In the Ogatsu district of Ishinomaki City, many buildings including banks, fire stations, kindergartens, and hospitals were destroyed along with 80% of the residences in the district.

With the help of many organizations and individuals, Ogatsu district managed to rebuild one small clinic to provide basic medical service to its residents, but there still was no place to provide dental service. AAR Japan, in cooperation with AmeriCares, established a new dental clinic in June 2012 so that the local people can receive dental treatment, including fitting of dentures for elderly people.

Our Resolution
These are just a few examples of our activities. These projects were accomplished with help of many organizations and individuals who are dedicated to lending a helping hand. We truly appreciate all the donations we continue to receive via GlobalGiving. We believe that size does not matter; the important thing is the fact that people care about each other and act in whatever way they can. With your donation, we can implement more activities to support those who are in need of help including PWDs and elderly people.

It will be our pleasure to report our future activities and the accomplishments we make with your help. In the Tohoku region, there are still many people who are in need of help and we will do our best to help those people.

We would like to thank everyone who is helping this cause.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Your AAR Japan Project Team

People relaxing in Hinatabokko
People relaxing in Hinatabokko
User and their family chatting in Hinatabokko
User and their family chatting in Hinatabokko
People at Nozomi workshop practicing paper folding
People at Nozomi workshop practicing paper folding
Patients treated at new Ogatsu dental clinic
Patients treated at new Ogatsu dental clinic
Oct 16, 2012

Nature experiencing workshop for children in Fukushima

Lecture on how to make soba noodle
Lecture on how to make soba noodle

In Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent nuclear power plant catastrophe, many families, especially those with children, are having a tough time both mentally and physically because of the risk of being exposed to radioactive particles. Parents can not let children play outside and this leads to immense stress both for parents and their children, while also increasing the risk of obesity among children from lack of exercise.

 

In response, on July 22nd and 23rd, 2012, as a part of the “Building Healthy Communities Project,” AAR Japan held a two-day workshop activity in Fukushima Prefecture in the town of Nishi-Aizu. This event aimed to alleviate the stress among disaster-affected families by allowing them to spend time in nature with no worries so that they can have a memorable experience. Before the workshops we measured the level of radioactivity in Nishi-Aizu Town and the result was 0.08 micro-sieverts per hour, which is nearly equal to the measurement at Tokyo. Thus family members from disaster-affected areas were invited to spend 2 days to enjoy many exciting and unforgettable experiences such as starting fire using only ropes and wood, making soba (traditional Japanese noodle), and creating handcraft items from bamboo tree.

 

Various enjoyable workshops and entertainment

Bamboo tree handcraft and fire-making

We invited Mr. Hideki SEKINE as the instructor for creating handcraft goods from bamboo trees and making fire with ropes and wood. Mr. SEKINE teaches at Tama Art University, Wakou University, and Kuwahara Design Research Institution and is also the holder of the title of “world’s fire-making champion”. Using bamboo, Mr. SEKINE taught children how to craft items such as percussion instruments, flutes, drinking cups, and water guns. Also children tried to make fire with just a rope and wood. It took the children many tries but in the end, when the fire was finally lit, everyone raised their voices in excitement and appeared proud of themselves.

 

Soba making workshop

Soba is a type of traditional Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. We invited soba master Mr. Tadashi HASEGAWA, who led the children throughout the noodle-making process which included kneading the dough, stretching it, and cutting it to make fresh soba noodles. Some children had difficulties cutting the noodles into the same width but they eventually got a hang of it and enjoyed the process. When we cooked the soba noodles, everyone was happy with the end product of their hard work.

 

Fun, fun, fun

Of course, in between the workshops, children had free time to enjoy the beautiful nature where they spent time catching insects, ran freely in the woods playing tag, and also enjoyed climbing into a tree house. At night, children and their parents enjoyed a BBQ and beautiful fireworks, which wrapped up this unforgettable night.

 

Participant’s remarks

Mrs. Hiromi IWASAKI (66) who participated with 2 of her grandchildren said with smile “Usually I can’t let my grandchildren go outside but during this event I can let them play outside without any worry and hesitation so I really enjoyed and appreciated this occasion.”

 

Mrs. Hiromi KOBAYASHI (37) who participated with her husband and 3 children proclaimed “It feels after such a long time that I can let my children play outside. All the events were great.”

 

Gratitude and resolution

AAR Japan will keep organizing many events to alleviate the stress and pain for people who have been suffering from the Great East Japan Earthquake. We hope to achieve this with help from all over the world as we have done so far. We would like to emphasize that we really appreciate all the help and kindness of our donors. We will keep collecting donation and every bit of your kindness helps us greatly. Please help spread this information and it will be our pleasure to be able to inform you how our activities are progressing in near future.

Cutting soba noodle
Cutting soba noodle
Handcrafting from bamboo tree
Handcrafting from bamboo tree
Bamboo cup
Bamboo cup
Making fire using rope and wood
Making fire using rope and wood
Playing outside, found mantis
Playing outside, found mantis
Going into tree house
Going into tree house
BBQ dinner, time to enjoy good food with everyone
BBQ dinner, time to enjoy good food with everyone
Aug 23, 2012

Supporting Landmine Victims in Attaining Financial Stability

May 14th, 2012 - Mr. MOSES (right) with AAR staff
May 14th, 2012 - Mr. MOSES (right) with AAR staff

Support for Landmine Victims in a Harsh Environment

A 20-year civil war has left the northwestern region of Uganda scattered with landmines and UXOs (Unexploded Ordnance). Most of these landmines and UXOs still remain in the ground, with injuries mounting every year. Victims often lose their jobs due to their disabilities, or sell their homes and businesses in order to raise money for treatment. According to research by the Ugandan Government in 2009, only 8% of these victims have a means of making an income.

In cooperation with ULSA (Uganda Landmine Survivors Association), AAR Japan has been supporting Ugandan victims of landmines and UXOs since 2009. At present, we are providing start-up assistance to 30 beneficiaries in Uganda’s northern Lira District, helping them start small-scale, self-owned business such as retail shops, salons, and second-hand clothing shops in order to attain financial stability.

 

Hope for a Better Future

In 2003, Ms. Silvia ACIO, now 40 years old, was on her way to her second-hand clothing shop when the truck in which she was traveling struck a landmine and she lost her left eye. She was hospitalized for 6 months, and she had no choice but to sell her shop.

AAR Japan provided the necessary materials for her to open a retail shop, in addition to 2 months’ rent for her facilities. Just 2 weeks after opening, she says that her business is already profitable. She told us, “I’m raising two kids by myself because I was divorced after the accident. I want to make better profits so my kids can go to school, and I would also like to have my own house.”

Another beneficiary, Mr. Komakech MOSES, 26 years old, was provided with 2 months’ rent and the equipment to open a salon. Mr. MOSES, both of whose legs were amputated due to a landmine accident in 2002, hired a hairdresser and opened his salon one month ago. Now 7 to 8 customers come to his salon each day. He told us, “Thanks to the help of AAR Japan, I’m now able to have hope for a better future. I hope more and more people will be able to have hope by being given a chance to work.”

In addition to small-scale, self-owned business support, AAR Japan will also cover the cost for treatment, hospitalization and transport for 15 victims who need prosthetic limbs, rehabilitation, or surgery to remove fragments from their bodies.

Even now that the civil war has calmed, many people continue to suffer the effects of landmines and UXOs. AAR Japan will continue its support so that these victims can have hope for a better future. 

May 14th, 2012 - the salon which Mr. MOSES opened
May 14th, 2012 - the salon which Mr. MOSES opened
May 15th, 2012- One of victims with ULSA staff
May 15th, 2012- One of victims with ULSA staff

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