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 31, 2011

Activity Report (May 4th to 9th, 2011)

May 4th, 2011

Entertainers Nekohachi and Koneko EDOYA Visit the Disaster Zone

The Oshika Peninsula rings with animal sounds and children’s laughter


On April 27th, AAR JAPAN visited an elementary school and evacuation center in Miyagi Prefecture’s Oshika Peninsula. We were accompanied by Ms. Natsuko HAGIWARA, Rikkyo University professor and managing director of the Japan NPO Center, and entertainers Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA IV and Mr. Koneko EDOYA II.
Our first event was at Higashihama Elementary School in Ishinomaki City, where classes resumed this week. 26 students and nearby evacuees gathered for the event.
Beginning with the cry of a Japanese bush-warbler, “Hō-hokekyo!”, the entertainers brought smiles to the children’s faces with imitations of various animals, including dogs, horses, zebras, suzumushi and matsumushi crickets, rhinoceroses, frogs, and more. The children laughed uproariously while practicing a frog’s croak with all their might. The finale, a chorus of animal and insect sounds arranged to the tune of the song “Furusato” (“Hometown”), filled the evacuation center with a feeling of warmth, and even brought smiles to the faces of the grandparents sitting at the back.
April 27th – Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA (left) and Mr. Koneko EDOYA (right) imitate a Japanese bush-warbler’s cry. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
“It’s the first time I’ve seen children with such bright smiles since the earthquake.”
After the event, the children told us enthusiastically, “It was great!” and “Now I can make a sound like a rhinoceros!”
The school principal, Mr. TSUNODA, said “It’s the first time I’ve seen children with such bright smiles since the earthquake… There is nothing that encourages us like the voices, songs, smiles and cheers of children.”
I could only hope that the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture, the Tohoku area, and all of Japan will be filled with such smiles as soon as possible.
Driving along the seaside mountain road on our way back, we heard the distant bush-warbler’s cry, “Hō-hokekyo!” I guess the bush-warblers of the Oshika Peninsula welcomed the entertainers, too.
April 27th – Asked, “Does anyone know the Japanese bush-warbler?” children cheerfully raise their hands. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
April 27th – Firmly gripping Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA’s hand (right), an evacuee declares, “I’ve been your fan for a long time!” (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

April 27th – At a meeting before the event, Principal TSUNODA (center) said, “Some students still have dulled expressions for fear of aftershocks, but by playing with friends they are gradually getting better.” Sitting at the right is Ms. Sayako NOGIWA of AAR JAPAN. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture) 
Sayako NOGIWA (Tohoku Office Head) - AAR JAPAN Senior Program Coordinator
Largely responsible for AAR JAPAN's projects in Myanmar and other parts of Asia.
Involved in a number of emergency relief operations in the past, including the Myanmar Cyclone in 2008, the Sumatra Earthquake in 2009, and the Pakistan Flood in 2010. 
(34 years old, born in Tokyo.)

May 6th, 2011

For the Sake of Survivors on the Oshika Peninsula

AAR JAPAN delivers a washer and dryer to the Oshika Peninsula
On April 30th, AAR JAPAN delivered a washing machine and dryer to Higashihama Elementary School and Koamikura Evacuation Center on the Oshika Peninsula, Oshika Ward, Miyagi Prefecture. Taki KATO, Deputy Chairperson of AAR JAPAN, accompanied the delivery.
The Director of Emergency Headquarters at Higashihama Elementary School, Mr. TOYOSHIMA, told us that he wants to place the washer and dryer where they will be accessible to all residents in the area, while also taking into consideration access to water and electricity. On the Oshika Peninsula, local roads have been damaged by the March 11th earthquake, and water and electricity have still not been re-established in some areas.
April 30th – A washing machine and dryer are delivered to Koamikura Evacuation Center. Ms. Taki KATO is on the right. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
When KATO asked Mr. TOYOSHIMA about the state of recovery operations in the area, he replied, “We received a lot of supplies immediately after the earthquake, but these days the quantity is decreasing.” Although they are getting enough food to survive, today they received only water and retort foods. They have asked the Self-Defense Force to provide them with vegetables at least once every four days, but they are seldom delivered.
At the same time, school has resumed, but only milk and a piece of bread are served for school lunch each day. Students have six hours of class every day, and Mr. TOYOSHIMA wants to provide them with bento (meal boxes) or onigiri (rice balls) at least once or twice a week. I felt his deep devotion to the children, who will all play a leading role in the future of the region.

April 30th – Mr. TOYOSHIMA, Director of Emergency Headquarters at Higashihama Elementary School, talks with KATO (left), Deputy Chairwoman of AAR. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
Hoping for the healthy growth of a new life
The same day, KATO accompanied AAR JAPAN’s traveling clinic on its rounds of individual residences on the Oshika Peninsula. We looked in on a woman in Obuchi Ward who was four months pregnant. Her health had declined after the earthquake, and although she told us she was all right when we visited her last, she had looked visibly strained. This time Dr. Tomoko KANTO, an obstetrician introduced by Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA, a member of the AAR JAPAN medical team, accompanied us on our visit, and she examined the expecting mother with a portable ultrasound device. When the healthy baby was seen moving on the screen, the expecting mother, her family, and Ms. KATO all cheered for joy. The expecting mother promised us that she would do her best to give birth to a healthy baby. The wonderful moment brought a smile to everyone’s faces.
We have been visiting individual residents of the Oshika Peninsula to check on their physical condition, to listen to their stories, and to take their requests. On that day one survivor told us, “I felt totally isolated after the earthquake. But I’m truly happy that you’ve visited my home so many times to check up on my health. When I think that I have someone who is concerned about me, it gives me the strength to keep going.” I was really glad to know that someone felt that way. We will continue in our efforts to ensure that everyone can live in good health and with a smile in their hearts.

April 30th – Dr. KANTO (center) examines a woman in her fourth month of pregnancy. They cheer upon seeing the image of her healthy baby. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
Mizuho SEKII: Emergency Relief Team (nurse and medical officer)
Worked as a hospital nurse for six years after graduation from university.
(Born in Ibaraki Prefecture.)
May 9th, 2011 

Elementary School Students in Minami-Sanriku Celebrate their Graduation

Presents for graduating students in the disaster area 
On April 29th, students at Isatomae Elementary School in the town of Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, celebrated their long-delayed graduation ceremony. Postponed over a month, a total of 40 students from Isatomae Elementary School and Natari Elementary School attended the ceremony. Located 2 km away near the Pacific coast, Natari Elementary was unable to host its own ceremony due to extensive damage from the tsunami.
AAR JAPAN staff presented teddy bears and candy to the graduating students. As the ceremony ended, the students were led out to the schoolyard, where the tsunami-ravaged landscape of Isatomae and Utatsu lay before them. “Never forget this view,” their teacher told them. “This is your town, and you are the ones who will rebuild it.”
After the graduation ceremony, AAR JAPAN and Peace Project held a soup kitchen at Utatsu Junior High School.
Located next door to Isatomae Elementary School, approximately 250 people are using the junior high school as an evacuation center, including graduates from Isatomae Elementary. The soup kitchen offered a special menu of steak, minestrone soup and oden to celebrate their graduation.
At the ceremony, one of the graduating students said, “After the earthquake, I always felt afraid. But in a few days, volunteers came with help and relief supplies. When I become a junior high school student, I want to be the one to help others who are scared.”
Youth takes the first step into the future—the path may be long, but they have started walking toward recovery.
April 29th – Graduating students are presented with Rirakkuma teddy bears. AAR JAPAN’s Tomoya SOEJIMA stands to the left. (Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture)

 April 29th – Before “leaving the nest” graduating students engrave the memory of the scene into their hearts. (Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture)
April 29th – Steak from the soup kitchen in the Utatsu Junior High School evacuation center. (Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture)
April 29th – Congratulations on your graduation! (Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture)
Photo credits: Yoshifumi KAWABATA


May 30, 2011

Activity Report (April 22nd to 30th, 2011)

April 22nd, 2011

AAR JAPAN Provides Healthcare to Survivors

Reaching survivors in their homes on the Oshika Peninsula
AAR JAPAN has been making regular visits to provide medical treatment to earthquake survivors on the Oshika Peninsula, an isolated region of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.
The Oshika Peninsula suffered tremendous damage in the earthquake. Medical teams from Tokai University and the Japanese Red Cross Society are taking care of patients in the northern part of the peninsula, while a Self-Defense Force medical team is working in the south. However, at present their support focuses only on people at evacuation centers, and does not reach survivors who have chosen to remain in their homes.
Some residents cannot travel to receive health care at evacuation centers due to old age or problems with their legs, while others have not been able to obtain information on where to go. Health workers from all over the country have been assigned to visit homes in different areas of Ishinomaki City, performing check-ups and inspecting damage, but the system has not yet been able to reach the Oshika Peninsula.
To meet this need, AAR JAPAN formed a medical team led by Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA, a long-time medical practitioner in the area. Dr. YASUDA is supported by two nurses, Moeko NAGAI and Mika SEKII, with Eijiro MURAKOSHI serving as administrative staff. The team began making regular visits to provide medical treatment in homes and evacuation centers on April 9th.
Many survivors remain in their homes on the peninsula, where our team is working with about 640 people in the Makino-hama, Takeno-hama, Kitsunezaki-hama, Sudachi, Fukiura, Kozumi-hama and Kobuchi-hama areas. In coordination with the Red Cross Society and governmental agencies supervising medical support in Ishinomaki City, Dr. YASUDA has been making regular medical visits on weekends, while providing services such as care for chronic illness, prevention against infectious diseases, and mental support on weekdays.

April 10th – Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA (left) examines a man in his sixties who is living in an evacuation center in Ogihama Junior High School. The man was relieved to receive a careful examination and a medical prescription.
Providing detailed care to each person
When visiting homes and evacuation centers, our team first coordinates with the regional Emergency Headquarters, or visit homes that have been introduced by other survivors in the area.
On April 16th, our team visited an elderly couple sheltered in their home in the Makino-hama area of the Higashihama ward. Though both were in good health, the wife was worried about her blood pressure, and they were both relieved when no problem was found.
In addition to performing check-ups, we listen to survivors’ concerns, ask about difficulties they are having, and inquire about any supplies they may need. In one house the toilet was connected to a septic tank, and the pump truck had not come since the earthquake. When a truck came to the evacuation center nearby, the homeowners were told that the truck could not come to individual houses. While the tank did not pose a threat to hygiene when we visited, we informed the staff in charge of the evacuation center of the situation, and asked for appropriate measures to be taken before the problem worsened.
We informed survivors that we would visit regularly to provide check-ups and ask about any difficulties they were having. When one survivor replied with watery eyes, “That will be really helpful. Thank you,” I realized just what kind of terrible anxiety these people are living with every day.
Despite of the enormous difficulties they are facing, the residents of the Oshika Peninsula have been cheerful and warm-hearted, supporting one another in their daily lives. When we visit, they prepare tea and express their thanks, and we find ourselves as much cheered by them as they are by us. We will continue to listen to their appeals, and will endeavor to understand their feelings as we work to maintain their health.

April 16th – When visiting patients, we inquire about their health and daily lives. Nurse Moeko NAGAI (left) measures a patient’s blood pressure.


Moeko NAGAI: Emergency Relief Team (nurse and medical officer)
Worked in hospital for three years after graduation from university
After studying in the United States for one year, she worked as a nurse at kindergarten in Japan for two years

April 28th, 2011

AAR JAPAN Provides Buses to Hospitals and Schools

AAR JAPAN operates regular bus services for residents
AAR JAPAN has been supporting the operation of regular bus services in the Oshika Peninsula, an isolated region of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. AAR-supported buses are operating in Ogihama Ward, which lies at the entry to the peninsula, and Ayukawa Ward in the south.
Prefectural Road No. 2 cuts through the Oshika Peninsula, forming a thoroughfare to hospitals and shopping centers in Ishinomaki’s city center. Regular bus services once ran along the prefectural road, with mid-sized buses connecting residential areas to the main line. However, roads leading to the prefectural road have cracked or subsided due to the March 11th earthquake, making it impossible to operate mid-sized buses. With so many cars swept away by the tsunami, it is now difficult for people in Ogihama Ward and Ayukawa Ward to go to the hospital, go shopping, or go to school.
April 26th – A road along the sea in Ogihama Ward. Side roads connecting to Prefectural Road No. 2 are still so narrow that only one car can go through. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
“I went to the city for the first time since the earthquake”
In cooperation with Miyakou Bus Co., Ltd. and Oshika Public Service, AAR JAPAN started operating regular buses on April 10th, using 10-seater mini-buses that are capable of navigating the narrowed roads. Services have been provided twice a day, with two buses operating in Ogihama Ward and one bus in Ayukawa Ward. All services are provided for free, with the beginning of operation announced by radio and at evacuation centers.
In Ogihama Ward, buses run from the peninsula’s Fukiura area to the Japanese Red Cross hospital in the city center. The trip takes one and a half hours, with two round-trips provided daily. On the way, the bus also stops at convenient locations such as elementary schools, junior high schools and shopping centers, as well as at Ishinomaki Station.
Speaking with watery eyes, a 75-year-old woman who used the bus told us, “I hadn’t been able to go to the city center since the earthquake. When I heard about the bus service on the radio, I was overjoyed.”
At the southern end of the peninsula in Ayukawa Ward, mini-buses travel in and out of the ward’s residential areas to bring people to the bus stop on Prefectural Road No. 2. As more and more people return to their homes from evacuation centers, buses accessible to individual residences are increasingly important, particularly as many elderly people live in the area.
In addition to normal twice-daily services, the mini-buses are also used as school buses. AAR JAPAN will continue to provide bus services to enable people in the affected areas to get back to their regular lives as quickly as possible.
April 26th – Children getting on the mini-bus to go home from Higashihama Elementary School. Classes resumed on April 21st. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

April 16th – When visiting patients, we inquire about their health and daily lives. Nurse Moeko NAGAI (left) measures a patient’s blood pressure.

Moeko NAGAI: Emergency Relief Team (nurse and medical officer)
Worked in hospital for three years after graduation from university
After studying in the United States for one year, she worked as a nurse at kindergarten in Japan for two years
April 29th, 2011

Hot Springs are Fantastic! Let’s Bring Hot Springs to the Disaster Zone.

Delivering hot spring water from Onikobe Onsen to evacuation centers
In cooperation with Manyo Club Co., Ltd. (Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture), Ascendia Inc. (Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo) and others, AAR JAPAN has been implementing the project “Let’s Bring Hot Springs to the Disaster Zone.” Since April 12th, we have provided hot spring water to Miyako Elementary School on Miyako Island, Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture.
Around 900 residents of the island evacuated to the gymnasium of Miyako Elementary School immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake. About 20 residents of Ohama, one of the island’s villages, remain there now, and it has been only two days since 24-hour electricity was re-established.
In cooperation with Onikobe Onsen (hot spring) in the Naruko Onsen area of Miyagi Prefecture, hot spring water has been delivered by tank truck to a bath in the elementary school playground prepared by the Self-Defense Force. Hot baths are offered from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day except Sunday, with access rotating between men and women each day.
April 27th – There are two bathtubs in the tent. The rear tub is used for washing and rinsing, while the tub in the foreground is for soaking. The space in front is used for changing. (Higashi-Matsushima city, Miyagi Prefecture)
Giving people a little chance to relax in the bath
People arrive promptly to enjoy the hot spring water at 4:00. The bath is open to anyone, not only those in the evacuation center, so residents come on foot, by bicycle and by car, with about 80 people visiting each day.
Today is men’s day. Mr. Toshiaki HIYAMA comes every day the bath is open, riding 1 km from his home. He told us, “I’ll pedal as far as I have to to get into this bath!” Mr. HIYAMA lives alone, and has been living off meals at the Self-Defense Force soup kitchen or eating bento (meal boxes) that are provided for survivors. “There are no shops near my house, so I have to go a long way to buy even little things,” he said. “It’s not easy, but everyone is having a hard time. At least I can live in my own house, so I can’t complain.”
After soaking in the bath, people can receive supplies such as coffee, biscuits, and popcorn in front of the tent.
Although people in the affected areas are still experiencing significant difficulties, they seem relaxed and comforted by their time in the hot spring water. We will continue this project until the end of the Golden Week holiday in May.
April 27th – “The water temperature is fantastic!” says Mr. HIYAMA, who comes to enjoy the hot springs by bicycle every day. (Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture)
April 27th – “Bathing is great. It’s refreshing,” says Mr. ONO, holding supplies of distributed coffee. He is staying at the evacuation center in Miyako Elementary School. (Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture)
April 27th – This specialized tank truck, provided by Manyo Club Co., Ltd., Kanagawa Prefecture, can maintain the temperature of hot spring water over long distances. (Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture) (Photo by Onikobe School)
April 27th – Members of the Self-Defense Force set up and manage the hot springs. Here hot water is stored in a container outside the tent so that it can be added to the tubs later. Miyako Elementary School can be seen in the background. (Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture) (Photo by Onikobe School)
*This project has been carried out in cooperation with Manyo Club Co., Ltd.; Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture; Ascendia Inc.; Naruko Tourism Research Institute; Yamagakko Council; and AAR JAPAN.
Yoshitaka SUGISAWA (Tokyo Office)
Has been working at AAR since May 2010, in charge of domestic activities.
Worked in a private company after graduation from university before joining AAR.
Engaged in emergency assistance for flooding in Pakistan in 2010.
(Born in Ibaraki Prefecture)
April 30th, 2011

People with Disabilities and their Families – Lost to Evacuation Centers

AAR JAPAN has been engaging in relief activities in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake. This is a report from Ayumi YASUDA of the Emergency Relief Team.
We received a phone call from Ms. Miyako SAITO in Ishinomaki City, whom we had previously visited to provide relief supplies. She told us of three families that had children with disabilities staying at an evacuation center nearby, and they needed supplies. The next day, on April 22nd, we visited the families with food and daily necessities at a house on the premises of Hitakami-en, a rehabilitation facility for people with mental disabilities.
All three families lost their homes in the earthquake and moved to public evacuation centers. When their children had difficulty living with other evacuees, the families were introduced to this house by the Ishinomaki Shoshinkai Social Welfare Corporation, and they have been living here in obscurity since.
Can’t go to evacuation centers, can’t go to buy things
Ms. Yuko SAITO (58) lives with her two sons, the younger of whom, Kazuya (21), has severe mental disabilities. After the earthquake, they initially moved into an evacuation center at a high school before moving into the present house. For a time Kazuya didn’t speak due to the stress of the moves, but recently he finally began to find his voice. When I was talking with his mother, Kazuya tried to tell me that they had lost their house, saying, “House, bye-bye.”
Kazuya requires continuous care, and Ms. SAITO can rarely go out. When we gave her not only food but also nail clippers and ear picks as requested, she looked pleased and said, “We’ve received some urgently-needed supplies, but still lack some of the little things that we always took for granted before the earthquake. I feel unsettled without these things.”

April 22nd – When we gave her nail clippers and ear picks, Ms. Yuko SAITO (center) said, “The truth is that we lacked daily necessities like these.” Her son Kazuya has Down’s syndrome. (Left: Ayumi YASUDA, Emergency Relief Team, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
“I though about covering her mouth with tape.”
Ms. Hatsue NITTA (69) now lives in the same house as Ms. SAITO, along with her daughter Chihiro (39), who has severe mental disabilities. They received mattresses and blankets at an evacuation center, and we provided them with sheets and covers. They had no choice but to leave the evacuation center where they had been staying after the earthquake because Chihiro yells every night. I got a sense of the immeasurable difficulties they had faced when Ms. NITTA told me, “I even thought about covering her mouth with tape.”
Ms. NITTA told me that she had just recovered from an illness herself, making it particularly difficult to live away from home while looking after her daughter. She said, “Those of us taking care of family members with disabilities are facing far greater difficulties than other families. We can’t stay in evacuation centers, but there’s no other place to go, either. We don’t know how long we can stay in this house, and I feel anxious every day.” I couldn’t say anything in reply to her words.

April 22nd – “We don’t know how long we can stay here,” Ms. NITTA says anxiously. Her daughter Chihiro (second from right) has severe mental disabilities. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)
We hope to quickly deliver supplies to people who can’t go out
I’ve been visiting many evacuation centers over the past month, but seldom see people with disabilities in the big public evacuation centers. Finally driven out, they go back to their half-destroyed homes, or timidly shelter themselves in their relatives’ houses. Families cannot leave their children alone, so it’s difficult for them to go shopping or to get relief supplies.
I deeply feel that AAR JAPAN should provide support for these people above all. We will continue to make efforts to quickly meet the needs of people with disabilities and their families.

Worked in Nepal as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer after graduation from university,
then joined AAR. Born in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture.


May 2, 2011

Activity Report (April 10th to 16th, 2011)

April 11th, 2011

At Soup Kitchens, Happy Faces and Calls for Seconds!

Heartwarming Stew

April 5th - Delivering beef stew to more than 400 people at Utatsu Junior High School, which is being used as an evacuation center in Minami-Sanriku Town. 

In addition to sending relief supplies to areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, AAR JAPAN is also working in coordination with the Peace Project to operate soup kitchens at evacuation centers in Miyagi Prefecture. The Peace Project is a charity program jointly organized by Ingram Co., Ltd. and AAR JAPAN, in which AAR JAPAN receives a portion of sales from various items bearing Ingram’s licensed “Peace Mark”.
On April 5th, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team prepared approximately 500 servings of beef stew for people taking refuge in an evacuation center at UtatsuJunior High School in Minami-Sanriku Town, Miyagi Prefecture. In addition to those living in the school, we called out to people still living in the surrounding houses, gathering together a total of over 400 people. Our beef stew had taken many hands and a full night to prepare, and it was well-received by the disaster victims, approximately 100 of whom came back for more helpings until they were fully satisfied.

April 5th - Children holding a cardboard sign that reads, “Thank you very much – Everybody at Utatsu Evacuation Center, Minami-Sanriku Town.”

After she had eaten, a 70-year old woman said, “I’m sad because I lost my house, but this stew has warmed my heart.”
A 60-year old man said, “I want people to see the situation here and inform as many people as possible.” He added, “It may take a long time, but in two or three years I’d like to invite all the people involved in the soup kitchen back to thank them.” Receiving these words of gratitude from the disaster victims was heart-warming for us all.

Asked what was now needed the most, a group of lively 15-year-old boys enjoying their stew answered, “Love.” When we told them that we had put lots of love into the stew, they declared in unison, “That’s why this is the best stew we’ve ever had!”

“I’m worried because I no longer have a home, but we’re getting through each day by making each other laugh and cheering each other up.” Hearing these words made us feel that we needed to keep sending even more support and even more smiles to the disaster victims.

April 5th – Many hands were involved in preparing the soup kitchen (Minami-Sanriku Town)

 April 5th - Messages from disaster victims written on the Emergency Relief Team’s flag: “We’ll reopen the school for sure!”, “It was delicious! I’m really grateful for the meal.” (Minami-Sanriku Town)

April 9th - AAR JAPAN staff Yukako Niimi (left) with 2nd year high school students from the baseball team who helped with the soup kitchen (Wakabayashi Gymnasium in Wakabayashi District, Sendai City)

April 9th –Delivering around 235 meals of yakisoba noodles and fried chicken, we heard people comment happily, "It’s the first yakisoba noodles we’ve been able to eat since the disaster.” (Wakabayashi District, Sendai City)



April 12th, 2011

AAR JAPAN Provides Relief to Survivors Sheltered Outside Evacuation Centers

Numerous Survivors Stay in Half-Destroyed Homes 

April 11th - A beach where surfers used to gather is now a scene of destruction (Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture)
One month has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and while relief has now begun to meet demands on the ground, survivors staying outside official evacuation centers are still not getting all that they need.
It is estimated that roughly half of survivors have chosen to stay in their own homes, while many others have remained outside official evacuation centers by taking refuge with friends or relatives. AAR JAPAN is committed to reaching these evacuees, who often find themselves overlooked by the general relief effort.
Efforts to Reach the Neediest

April 11th - Hachiko Itoh (left) talks to Michitaka Kobayashi of AAR JAPAN (right) in front of her house. Having lost its support columns, the building seems to be in danger of collapse (Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture)
AAR JAPAN received word of thirty survivors taking refuge in their homes or with friends in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture. Upon learning that they were hard-pressed for food and daily necessities, AAR JAPAN delivered supplies including rice, fermented soy bean paste, oranges, milk, toothbrushes, soap, clothes, side dishes, stove burners and high-pressure washers on Monday, April 11th, 2011.
With seven beaches in a row, Shichigahama was once a gathering spot for surfers coming from both within Miyagi Prefecture and without. The tsunami washed away the entire town, taking everything from the fishery facilities to private houses, post offices, convenience stores and restaurants. Farmland has also been submerged under seawater.
We came across a number of exhausted survivors cleaning their mud- and seawater-covered homes, carrying belongings they had picked up from among the rubble. Moving heavy furniture is a strenuous job for the elderly and for those living alone, and we spotted a few young local men carrying a large closet from an elderly person’s half-destroyed house. When we talked to people staying in friends’ or relatives’ less-damaged houses, one man said, “They have been feeding me, and I’m sorry to be a burden.”
Junko Sato lived close to the port, and when the tsunami hit, the first floor of her house was flooded. She has finally cleared all the mud after a month of hard labor, during which time she stayed at her sister’s house. Nevertheless, mud and seawater still remain under the floor, and the wooden house will rot if left as it is. Apprehensive of the future, she said, “I’ve already asked a business to take care of it, but I wonder when I can move back in.”
Hachiko Itoh lived in the hard-hit Yogasakihama area of Shichigahama. The first floor of her house was damaged to such an extent that it’s incredible that it has not collapsed to the ground. When we spoke to her, Hachiko was gathering memorabilia while using a towel to wipe the small piece of floor that survived the disaster. Her family has asked her to leave the site alone out of concern for her safety.

April 12th- People were very pleased to see when we returned to Shichigahama the next day with supplies including milk and oranges (Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture). 

The survivors continue to face significant difficulties whether in homes or in evacuation centers. When we announced the successful delivery of our supplies, we were told that, although many organizations had been contacted for help, AAR JAPAN was the first to reach the Shichigahama area.
AAR JAPAN will continue to provide prompt and vital aid to those who are not being reached by the general relief effort.



April 14th, 2011

At Home, but with No Supplies: Difficulties Faced by Survivors in Their Homes

AAR JAPAN has been making efforts to support hard-to reach disaster survivors who remain in their homes. On April 11th, AAR JAPAN’s Ayumi YASUDA delivered supplies to two homes in Ishinomaki City. This is her report.
There’s food in town, but…
In Daikaido, Ishinomaki City, we delivered diapers and wet wipes, baby food, toys, children’s clothes, milk, juice, high-pressure washers and boots to about 30 kindergartners and people who have remained in their homes in the neighborhood of Eiko Church and Eiko Kindergarten.
Although her car and furniture were swept away by the tsunami, church member Tomiyo HOSOKAWA has remained in her house. Her gas was finally reconnected the day before (the 10th), but the bath in her house is broken, so she has been bathing at her neighbors’ houses.
There are many people in the area who escaped from the Ojika Peninsula, which suffered tremendous damage from the earthquake and tsunami. Many fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and they have been relying on relatives in the area.
One month has passed since the earthquake, and access to food is improving, with some shops reopening and relief supplies being provided at evacuation centers. But people still lack cars with which to acquire supplies, and even those who can get ingredients may have nothing with which to cook them.

Tomiyo HOSOKAWA (right) said happily, “People who escaped from the Ojika Peninsula with little children have been waiting for these diapers.” (Left: AAR’s Ayumi YASUDA.)

Working to prevent the isolation of the elderly
Miyako SAITO is an elementary school teacher in Fudo-cho, Ishinomaki City. We delivered supplies to her house as requested, including milk, juice, garbage bags, mouthwash (used in place of tooth-brushing), antiseptic gel, moisture cream, and so on.
Located at the mouth of a river, Fudo-cho was significantly affected by the tsunami. Electricity and water have finally been restored, but gas has yet to be reconnected, and people have been using temporary bath-houses built by the Self-Defense Force.
Ms. SAITO said, “The problem we’re facing is that elderly people living alone tend to be isolated. They have no means of letting others know when they’re in trouble.” Ms. SAITO and her neighbors have divided the area into several groups so that each group’s leader can bring supplies back from evacuation centers for distribution to elderly survivors. “Normally neighbors would do more to care for the elderly, but under the current circumstances it’s as much as people can do to take care of themselves,” she said. However, even in these difficult conditions, people are helping and supporting one another as much as they can.
In addition to those living in damaged houses, people whose houses have not been directly affected are facing a number of difficulties, including disrupted infrastructure and inadequate relief supplies. AAR JAPAN is making efforts to ensure that adequate support reaches these people.

April 11th- Milk has been scarce since the earthquake. Miyako SAITO said with a smile, “Long shelf-life milk is very useful” (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture).


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