Updates from Japan Relief Projects

 
$10+ million
Over 50,000
in 111
Sep 12, 2014

Monthly Report vol.39

 The Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, has long been affected by many earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions,
floods, and typhoons. Every year, these areas suffer various kinds of damage caused by natural disasters. A report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction(UNISDR), indicated that 75% of the death toll from natural
disasters between 1970 and 2011 occurred in the Asia-Pacific region. It also pointed out that Asia is the most
vulnerable region in the world against disasters. Being located in the trans-Pacific earthquake zone, which experiences frequent typhoons, is one of the causes of huge loss of life after disasters. One important feature of this
region is that most Asian cities are highly populated and many people live near the sea or rivers. Most of the Asian
countries are still emerging nations, so outbreaks of disasters could exacerbate poverty.

Meanwhile, after experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan is also facing challenges in reducing risk
from disasters. Since March 11, 2011, the Japanese government has received offers of aid from 163 countries
and regions, and 43 international organizations. However, they were not utilized effectively because local governments
that should have functioned as disaster response hubs were affected and thus failed to identify the true needs of disaster victims. Issues involving mutual coordination among various groups, including the central government,
non-governmental organizations, companies, and the Self-Defense Forces, were also highlighted.

In order to tackle such challenges, Civic Force established the “Asia Pacific Alliance” (APADM) in 2012 together with
organizations involved in disaster aid activities in the Asian region. The Alliance aims to bridge the government and
local authorities of a country with companies and NGOs through borderless cooperation. If all parties share and
utilize information, human resources, capital and goods among various countries on the same footing, aid could be
provided faster in times of disasters.

Over the years, as we accumulated experience in disaster aid, we have emphasized the necessity of structuring the
cooperation mechanism among organizations. We are now making efforts to strengthen this cooperative framework in
preparation for natural disasters which have become more frequent in recent years. In regard to the said activities, much progress had been made in the month of May. This month, the 39th Monthly Report focuses on the 2nd general assembly of the Asia Pacific Alliance, the international symposium, and a training program for junior officers involved in disaster management in Asian countries.

Please find the attachment for the further information. 


Attachments:
Sep 11, 2014

Strengthening our bond with the Tohoku community

Volunteer helping in the NRC
Volunteer helping in the NRC

With your generous contributions, HOT volunteers have been able to continue to support a local farmer – Saito-san – and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho.  The New Rice Center gives rice farmers in the Yamamoto-cho area a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, gather and share information.  In July, HOT volunteers helped Saito-san secure netting and then attach growing paprika plants to the netting in five greenhouses.  By attaching the growing plants to the netting, the branches will not break and die when the baby paprika begin to grow larger.  At the end of the day, the HOT volunteers remarked how hard it must be for Saito-san, his wife and other local farmers to do all that work by themselves.  It is very hard for Saito-san, his wife and other local farmers to run their farms and grow their businesses without the support of HOT volunteers given the continued labor shortages in certain parts of Tohoku. 

 

Going forward, we will organize more volunteer trips to further support the New Rice, the Ogatsu Island Farm Project (a new business in Ogatsu growing local produce) and Saito-san, his wife and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.

 

HOT has also been able to continue organizing cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku as a way of supporting the residents who lost their homes in the tsunami while they are waiting to move into new homes. These events encourage people to spend a bit of time outside of their small temporary living quarters and to socialize with others in their temporary community.  These events also play an important role in letting these residents know that, with the passage of time, they have not been forgotten by those living outside of Tohoku.

 

In June, we held a café at which HOT volunteers made and served yakisoba, sausages with tomatoes, Japanese omelets, French toast, hot and cold drinks, fruit pies and other sweets.  After lunch, a HOT volunteer played several beautiful songs on his keyboard.  It was wonderful seeing how the power of music can bring members of the temporary community and HOT volunteers together and to see so many smiling faces.  Thank you for making this possible with your generous donations. 

 

HOT is also finding ways for volunteers in Tokyo to support Tohoku without having to travel to Tohoku.  In June, HOT volunteers held interactive cooking classes with children from two children’s homes who seldom have opportunities to meet with adults other than those working at the children’s homes and their teachers.  Chefs taught the children easy to make recipes with the assistance of HOT volunteers and then everyone enjoyed eating lunch together.  This taught the children important cooking skills that they can use when they leave the children’s home and we sourced the ingredients from Tohoku.  We obtained vegetables from Saito-san’s farm and seafood from Ogatsu, a community that HOT has been supporting for more than three years with your generous donations.  Several teenagers residing at the children’s home who have participated in our volunteer trips to Tohoku also gave a presentation on their experiences volunteering with HOT in Tohoku.

 

In June, two groups of HOT volunteers in Tokyo baked and decorated cookies and then made goody bags with the handmade cookies for temporary housing residents near Yamamoto-cho.  The residents were very happy when they received the goody bags. 

 

Going forward and so long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will hold more cafes and events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  We also will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house (which was built with the help of your generous donations), to clean local beaches so that people from the greater Sendai area will continue to visit the area and thereby support the local economy and to hold special events to encourage those who are still waiting to resume their lives in Ogatsu and the surrounding communities.

 

We could not do what we do without your generous support.  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for bringing smiles to the faces of so many people in Tohoku.  

Volunteers helping in the NRC
Volunteers helping in the NRC
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
HOT Cafe at a temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
Sep 9, 2014

Building Resilience through Advanced Training to AAR Japan

Kenji Aoshima from Tokio Marine assigning tasks
Kenji Aoshima from Tokio Marine assigning tasks

Background: In the fall of 2013, International Medical Corps and its corporate partners (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.) conducted a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning (BCP) to help local Japanese non-government organizations (NGOs) create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts. Due to popular demand, International Medical Corps conducted another similar workshop series from February – May of 2014.

During several follow-up conversations with organizations that participated in previous BCP planning workshops, International Medical Corps learned that many were still facing difficulties getting all of their staff members to gain an understanding of what their BCP is, and the importance of preparing for emergency situations at the headquarters level.

Advanced BCP Training: To assist the capacity-building efforts of these organizations, International Medical Corps is offering advanced BCP training for willing organizations. On August 5, 2014, AAR Japan was the first organization to accept the opportunity to have International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine facilitate a private tabletop exercise to give AAR Japan’s management staff a taste of what it would be like for them react in an emergency situation. 

In total, 17 staff members from AAR Japan, including the director-general and senior management staff members, participated in the two-hour simulation exercise. The participants were divided by their work departments (i.e. administration, communications, and operations), and the disaster scenario was set as follows:

An earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale hits Tokyo at 10:30AM, with 70% of the Greater Tokyo Area experiencing a quake of 6.0 or stronger. Buildings are damaged and fires ensue in multiple neighborhoods. Everyone in the AAR Japan building evacuates to a nearby public park... 2 hours later, it is confirmed that the AAR Japan building is safe to re-enter.

The simulation exercise was divided into two parts: (1) the initial response (between 12:30 – 2pm, approximately two hours after the earthquake); and (2) restoration of operations.

Part 2 of the exercise was further divided into Phase I and Phase II: Phase I started at 2pm, three and a half hours after the earthquake, running until the end of day one; and Phase II covered the day after the disaster:

Phase 1 (2pm): Power outages continue, and office desktop PCs are unusable. Internet connectivity to laptop PCs and cell phones is minimal and the server cannot be accessed. AAR had originally been planning to send money to its overseas operations but they now cannot wire money via net-banking because they cannot use the internet. Calls to the bank are not going through and it is unclear whether the banks are operating.

Phase 2 (the day after the disaster): Train and subway systems have been shut down in many parts of the Tokyo Area; traffic congestion continues. Due to transportation difficulties, as well as, damage to homes and/or affected family members some AAR staff are unable to come in to work. Around 60% of the staff are available, either because they stayed in the office overnight or are able to walk to work the next day. Scheduled power outages have also started, and Laptop PCs and mobile phones will soon run out of their batteries and cannot be recharged. Donors and members have been trying to reach the office with offers of donations but have largely been unsuccessful. Staff members who had stayed overnight are showing signs of exhaustion.

The workshop facilitator gave each group timed tasks in accordance to the specific timelines (for example, during the initial response, each group had 20 minutes to brainstorm and come up with their department’s list of priority tasks that need to be completed within the first two hours of the disaster). During the simulation of the initial response, AAR Japan received regular situational updates by monitoring reports on a large TV screen regarding traffic conditions, public transportation conditions, fires, power outages, etc. Each group was then responsible to keep up with the updates while also working on their assigned tasks. The Director-General oversaw all activities at a distance and received reports from each group regarding updates and priority work areas. 

Results: Through this fast-paced exercise, many issues that had yet to be resolved with AAR Japan came to light, including:

  • What is the minimum number of staff needed?
  • Who has to stay behind in the office and who can go home?
  • How much cash do we need to have on hand to meet our immediate needs for at least a few days?
  • Where will we work if the office becomes unusable?

Overall, the feedback from the participants was very positive, including the following comments:

  • “It was an extremely worthwhile exercise that made me think about disaster response in a practical manner.”
  • “The simulation exercise covered a lot of material in a very short time frame.”
  • “I realized how important prior preparation is for disaster response.”
  • “Next time we should expand the simulation to include more staff members.”

Masayuki Okada, Administrative Officer and the focal point for this BCP exercise, summed up his impressions by saying, “I think this exercise helped us all to realize how much work we still have to do to prepare ourselves for a disaster. We always meant to, but never got around to stockpiling emergency supplies such as food, water, and disposable toilets for our staff. If we lose electricity, most if not all of our work will grind to a halt, so we seriously need to consider investing in a generator.”

Mr. Okada continued, “Other issues include not having an alternative workspace if our office ever became damaged, and how our BCP doesn’t specify which staff member is in charge of certain roles in case of an emergency. This exercise allowed us to experience a little bit of the chaos a disaster causes, and has helped management-level staff to have a better appreciation of the urgency of these issues. Now that we all have this shared sense of urgency, this is the ideal time to push forward with strengthening our level of preparedness. Additionally, we will be sharing the highlights of this exercise with other staff at our annual ‘Joint Conference for Internationally-Posted Staff & HQ Staff,’ which will be held at the end of this month. We truly appreciate the opportunity International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine has given us, and we will be sure not to waste the lessons we learned through this exercise.”

Teams monitoring news feeds
Teams monitoring news feeds
AAR staff reporting to their Director-General
AAR staff reporting to their Director-General
Aug 26, 2014

Come to see local people in Ishinomaki!!

Fishing Experience & Interacting with Local People
Fishing Experience & Interacting with Local People

Feel the current environment in Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture!

In Oshika Peninsula which we introduced in the previous report, we held the event “Let’s Go to the Sea!” 4 times in total from June to August 2014.

It is new style experience-based reconstruction assistance. In Japan, many people have been interested in the current situation and the community recovery there and still finding the way to contribute to assistance there for those affected by the disaster. 

We offer good opportunities for them to come to Oshika Peninsula and experience local environment, fishing, participating in a local festival and interacting with local people. 

We also vitalize the local economy and to boost reconstruction there by call in many participants from outside the area. 

In this report, we would like to introduce the event, the 8th “Let’s Go to the Sea!” held in June this year.

It had been held for 2 days, on June 7 and 8, at Yagawahama and Sasunohama, Oshika Peninsula.

In this event, the participants experienced fishing, listening to the locals talk about the disaster and recovery, visiting a temporary local shopping street which had been reconstructed 8 month later after the natural disaster hit the region and supported the locals, and looking around the city of Ishinomaki to know the present conditions.

Participants were able to learn directly the realities there such as the locals’ actual disaster experience and their positive spirits which they tackle difficult tasks to recover their hometown with, which they could not know through media coverage.

They shared their thoughts on the project with us:

 “I was able to hear the situations in Tohoku through the media after the disaster but found out through the experience there that the reality was totally different from what I thought”.

“The event’s great attraction is that we can interact with the locals; they are genuinely kind-hearted, so I come to like Oshika Peninsula very much.”

JEN will keep conducting the event till the completion of reconstruction in the region.

 

Strengthening family bonds! 

We have been conducting assistance for community reconstruction in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture since the earth quake and tsunami hit the city over 3 years ago.

On June 28, we held the event, “Parent-and-Child Hometown-Rediscovery Class” in order to strengthen their family bonds and to refresh their bodies and spirits. 

JEN give an opportunity that elementary school students and their parents living in Ishinomaki city participate the out-of-door activity and learn about their home town.

A series of 6 classes are scheduled to be given in the June-December period, and are going to be improved so that they can give participants better opportunities to learn and experience various features of their hometown Ishinomaki.

This event held for the first time this year, was themed on hiking in Mt. Magi and photography class joined by 12 families of 29 parents and their children in total. 

Firstly the photography class was conducted at the car park at the foot of the mountain and we distributed disposable cameras to each child.

Nowadays Japanese children only have experience of using digital camera so we taught them how to wind the film and how to take picture with the disposable camera.

At the beginning, children seemed puzzled to use the camera but once they started taking photo, they seemed to relax and we noticed their smiling faces and lively voices everywhere at last. 

After that, the parents and children headed towards the Hitsujisaki Shinto Shrine on the top of the mountain which has an altitude of 250 meters.

In the middle of hiking, they listened to local histories and myths of Ishinomaki from a local historian who accompanied them.

Children were so excited about insects and plants living in the mountain which normally they cannot find in the city and the old tales that have been handed down in this area such as “from when human beings started dwelling at Ishinomaki city” and “a myth of Maki clan” whose name was possibly derived to the name of the Magi mountain.

Waking through nature trails, they found an obstacle course for kids, so they dashed towards it right after having lunch. The parents seemed to get more refreshed by seeing their children playing joyfully.

JEN is planning to hold classes such as fishing, camping in a remote island and cooking in the near future.

We are committed to our working on offering opportunities that parents and their children in the disaster-stricken area can strengthen their family bonds while rediscovering their hometown, Ishinomaki.

 

Promoting the empowerment of women!

On July 12, we held the event, the 5th "Handicraft market, Hands-on exhibit in Ishinomaki: Making Handcrafting into Jobs". The event was one of the women empowerment projects, aimed at giving women a leg up who make handicrafts in the area.

This time, we offered opportunities of making-goods experience such as weaving as well as selling and buying handicrafts such as handmade bags and other handmade items. The hall where this event was held became crowded with a lot of visitors right after its opening.

After that, JEN staffs and the local handicraft-sellers who sold things in the event, had a monthly meeting.

In the meeting, many ideas such as a central theme and layout of the next event in August were thought up by the local participants. They also actively worked on making public announcement about the event such as handing out the leaflets.

JEN is working hard aiming at developing the cooperative system between the local participants through having this kind of meeting in order them to hold the event by themselves.

Hiking in Mt. Magi
Hiking in Mt. Magi
Handicrafts market, Hands-on exhibit in Ishinomaki
Handicrafts market, Hands-on exhibit in Ishinomaki
Selling her hand-made items
Selling her hand-made items

Links:

Aug 20, 2014

Fragrant Soap Making Class in Kaiyama

Ms. Itani introduced various scents
Ms. Itani introduced various scents

   AAR Japan visited the former residents of Katsurao Village, Fukushima Prefecture, where the radiation level is significantly high, at Kaiyama Temporary Housing Complex and held a Fragrant Soap Making Class and a Classic Concert.  32 people have participated.

   AAR has been hosting monthly events at various Temporary Housing Complex since May, 2012.  From this experience, we have found that many disaster victims suffer from isolation, insomnia, depression and other hardships.  Aiming to ease their stress and improve their mental health, we have organized this event in which participants could relax themselves with botanical aroma.  Aromatherapy is effective in altering a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function or health from negative to positive.

   Chihiro Itani, an aroma-therapist, lectured ‘Aromatherapy 101’ class and introduced the variety of essential oils and their effects.  It was the first time to appreciate aromatherapy for many of the participants, and they seemed very interested in the lecture.  After the lecture, participants sniffed and compared various scents and chose their favorite to make a fragrant soap with.  “I love this smell!”  “This one smells like shiso leaf.”  “What shape should I make?”  The conversation took lively turn.  To our surprise, there were several male participants actively engaging in the making of soap, which was a rare scene in our usual events.  A male participant who made a heart-shaped soap happily told us that he would give it to his wife as a present.

   There was an Instrumental Trio Concert with trumpet, trombone, and piano following the Soap Making Class.  Familiar songs and famous songs were played, and there were many participants who hummed along with their favorite tunes.

   Three years have passed since the 3.11 the Great East Japan Earthquake, and residents of the temporary housing complex grieve the fact that there are less and less events for them now.  They were afraid that they have been forgotten over time.  We will continue to hold events to support the disaster victims and make sure that no one is left behind. 

Male participants also enjoyed soap making
Male participants also enjoyed soap making
The conversation was lively
The conversation was lively
Instrumental Trio Concert
Instrumental Trio Concert
Aug 6, 2014

Tohoku Digest: July 2014

Earth-Calming Ceremony at Tamiko Abe Project
Earth-Calming Ceremony at Tamiko Abe Project

Ground-breaking Ceremony held at MakiBiz RFP Project, “Tamiko Abe”

Ground-breaking in Japan is quite ceremonious. When commencing construction of a building in Japan, it has long been tradition to hold a ceremony in which one receives permission from the site’s spirits, and purifies the site. This ritual is called Jichinsai,” translating to earth-calming ceremony.

Jichinsai is held before commencing all building construction to pray for safe construction.

While different regions and religious denominations dictate slight variances in how the ceremony is carried, the ceremony space is typically created with green bamboo inserted at the four corners of the site with Shimenawa (a thick, twisted straw rope with strips of white paper attached, hung to ward off evil spirits) connecting the four corners. An altar is set in the center of the ritual site.  Himorogi is set on the altar, along with offerings of sake, salt, rice, fruits and vegetables, to welcome the spirits.  With this setting, the ceremony is carried on by a Shinto priest, welcoming the spirits, eating the offerings, and communicating the message that a building will be built on that land.

Tamiko Abe’s Jichinsai was held on June 30, where the client, all construction staff, and MakiBiz staff all attended the ceremony to pray for a safe construction!

  

UPDATES

MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

Six out of nine projects in the MakiBiz RFP Program have been completed, with Baikado completed in July. Three projects: Oikawa Denki, Konpiramaru, and Tamiko Abe now remain. Oikawa Denki reached a big milestone this month, with a ridge-pole raising ceremony on the 12th.

Learn more about these projects, as well as the completed ones on each project page on the Open Architecture Network.

MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 180 business owners since it opened its office. Information about our clients, along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

Thank you, Kayo!

Our Design Fellow, Kayo Andrews who was mainly involved in our MakiBiz RFP project but also many others, left our team in June after 9 months of great work with our MakiBiz Office. Kayo brought her academic and practical architectural knowledge from the U.S. to the team, and supported MakiBiz with her fresh and innovative ideas to move the projects forward in great strides. Her open kindness and cheerful smile brought power to everyone in the community! Thank you, Kayo!

MakiBiz clients receiving media attention

MakiBiz clients' paths to reconstruction are receiving some attention! Media outlets have highlighted news of companies moving forward on their path to reconstruction, including news of the merging of ship manufacturing groups in Kesennuma. A TV program in Miyagi also covered a story about Ushiogami, who recently announced their newest product in Barcelona. Stay tuned for news on press on our clients, as they continue along their path to reconstruction!

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND PROGRAM NEEDS

 


PROJECT TRACKING

Project Name // Project Stage and % Stage Complete

Baikado // Completed July 2014

Oikawa Denki // CA 60%

Konpiramaru // CD 100%

Tamiko Abe / CD 100%

Wakaba Kindergarten // Completed Apr 2014

Tesuki Washi Ushiogami //  Completed Mar 2014

Park for All in Kamaishi //  Completed Feb 2014

Yamadai Utsumi Suisan //  Completed Jan 2014

Sasaki Tekko //  Completed Jan 2014

Yamayo Suisan //  Completed Oct 2013

Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" //  Completed Feb 2013

Maeami-hama Community House //  Completed Feb 2013

Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center //  Completed Dec 2012

Akahama Covered Alley //  Completed Jul 2012

Oshika House - Women's Collaborative //  Completed Jul 2012

Paper Crane Sculpture //  Completed Jan 2012

Shizugawa Judo Juku // Completed Dec 2011

Ohya Green Sports Park //  Completed Dec 2011

Hikado Marketplace //  Completed Jul 2011

CA Construction Administration / ; CD Construction Documents / ; DD Design Development / ; SD Schematic Design / ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases

Baikado Factory Construction Nearing Completion
Baikado Factory Construction Nearing Completion
MakiBiz Client Intake
MakiBiz Client Intake
Thank you, Kayo!
Thank you, Kayo!
Ushiogami Products
Ushiogami Products

Links:

Jul 28, 2014

To Be No.1 Event Organizing Arcade in Tohoku

Pre-game Lecture on Japan
Pre-game Lecture on Japan's Strategies

The Happy Shopping Arcade () (HSA) in Isatomae, Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, has been extremely active to organized many events and bring people from outside of the local community, since Isatomae having the population of only 5,000 is not big enough to keep the shopping arcade going.

Since the Isatomae became the first training camp for the J-league (the Japanese professional soccer league) when it was established in 1991, it has been keeping good relationships with diverse J-league soccer teams. These relations turned out to be highly valuable assets for keeping HSA to bring soccer fans to support the community. The HSA is the only place where you can see many flags of J-league soccer teams flying. Hence, the HSA organized a public viewing of Japan- Côte d'Ivoire game in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Game held in Brazil. They established a tent, set two big-screen televisions, and an NTT-provided projector which unfortunately was difficult to watch due to sun shine. They also had the attendance of Mr. Hisago Sato who became the 2013 scoring leader in Sanfrecce Hiroshima, six present J-league players who signed on a soccer ball, two 2010 world soccer Japan team players, and a famous soccer game commentator who is the coach of the Sendai University Soccer Team. HSA kept a list of attendants and found that even several people came from Kyushu District. A women soccer team from Sendai, Vegalta Sendai Ladies, donated 40 tickets for the August 3 game which was given away in a lottery and two uniforms. Before the game, six J-league members touched a ball to send spirit to the Japan team in Brazil.  Everybody was quite excited during the game until Japan lost two points.

About 200 people came to attend the public viewing, and four television stations reported about the event which was broadcasted as a national news (see the attached newspaper article). Among blue-color-shirt supporters to the Japan team, a group of red-color-shirt supporters were in the crowd. They were supporting Chilean team, since Minami-sanriku-cho and Chile’s Easter Island has a friendship relation. Forty people at Minami-sanriku-cho lost their lives due to tsunami caused by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960. To commemorate the recovery from the disaster, Minami-sanriku-cho commissioned a sculptor in Easter Island to make a Moai which came to be placed at Shizukawa High School. Unfortunately, this sculpture was lost in the 2011 Tsunami Disaster. Then, the Easter island sent a gift of a Moai sculpture to the town. Since there was a strong sense of good relations with Chile, a group of students wore red shirts to cheer the Chilean team.

After the game, the HSA was hoping to sell a lot of food and drinks, while providing some food for free. Unfortunately, everybody was so discouraged by losing the game, they did not stay at the HSA. In a sense, the public viewing was very successful, but the HSA could not make as much business as expected. Although it was unfortunate that the Japan team lost the game, the public viewing was really successful.

On August 3, the HSA is planning to have a fishing competition for which participants pay for a boat and go ocean fishing. On August 10 and 11, they are to have a summer festival, in which diverse participants play on the stage. The key attraction is BEGIN from Okinawa who also participated to commemorate the return of a Utatsu (Isatomae) post which drifted to Okinawa via Hawaii Islands. After many performances by participants, the festival will end with fireworks to commemorate those who lost their lives on 3.11. On August 16, they will have a Minami-sanriku Festival, and September 14, the town becomes a resting place for the Le Tour de Tohoku for 200 km bicycle competition. In October, they are planning to have an exhibition of 30 decorated and painted cars.    

With regard to raising the level of land, unlike Rikuzen Takata City and Shizukawa in Minami-sanriku-cho, hardly anything is taking place, while the planning of shopping arcade and the new housing area are very much coming to the final stage. People are now applying for housing to be built. The delay in land raising in Isatomae relative to other cities seems to be causing additional frustration, but at least they are eagerly participating to develop overall land planning, the construction of the shopping arcade, and other facilities. But there are many who just cannot wait for this slow development and purchases their own land and house outside of scheduled places. This is generating another psychological problem to those who are not capable of leaving temporary houses, giving them an identity of losers. Now, different are the financial conditions of those who had a tsunami insurance which was only 3% of disaster-stricken people and those who had fire insurance in Ohfunato whose houses were destroyed by fire rather than tsunami from those who did not benefit from these types of insurance.

Previous GlobalGiving donation to Isatomae was used to have this World Soccer Game Viewing, and they were extremely appreciative of the donation, especially because it turned out to be a big success. As written above, since they are planning to organize more events to become the No. 1 event organizing arcade in Tohoku for keeping their arcade alive, future donations are indispensable. They will very much appreciate future donations.

Sending Hearty Cheers to Japan Team
Sending Hearty Cheers to Japan Team
Viewing Game with J-league Flags on Ceiling
Viewing Game with J-league Flags on Ceiling
News Reporting of Public Viewing
News Reporting of Public Viewing

Links:

Jul 8, 2014

Three-year Progress Report from Tohoku

Content image
Content image

Three years have passed since the great earthquake on March 11, 2011. We lanuched Tohoku Fellowship Program to suppor recovery efforts by dispatching young professionals to good leaders in Tohoku.

We have sent 182 Fellows to 102 projects in 22 municipalities seriously damaged by the earthquake, tsunami and accident of the nuclear plant. This program could have met human resource needs in Tohoku, where the aging rate is high.

We have made a report on 3 years of this program. To share the progress with overseas donors, the report is written both in Japanese and English. Please see the report to catch a glimpse of Tohoku's recovery.


Attachments:
Jul 1, 2014

Building Local Non-Profit Capacity in Japan with Information Management Training

Nozomi Kawashima from Mitsubisihi Corp
Nozomi Kawashima from Mitsubisihi Corp

International Medical Corps’ work in Japan focuses on disaster risk reduction and training for local organizations – so they are better prepared to face a future emergency and meet the needs of local communities. Our team works hand-in-hand with these local organizations to identify gaps in emergency preparedness and response efforts, and help build their response capacity so they can effectively respond to a local emergency even if they are directly affected by the disaster.

In the fall of 2013, International Medical Corps and our corporate partners conducted a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning to help local Japanese non-government organizations (NGOs) create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts. When asked about issues not covered in the first series of workshops, NGO participants said that information management and information security remained a major concern when delivering humanitarian assistance.

While many Japanese NGOs understand they have a responsibility to protect their information, they often do not have the systems, policies, or procedures necessary to protect the information against various elements of risk. When a disaster strikes, the need for proper information management techniques becomes even more critical, as new information regarding program needs and beneficiaries can increase exponentially.  At the same time, systems to safely and securely store information about program participants may be affected by the disaster and subsequent power outages and resource restrictions.  Based on feedback from the local NGOs, International Medical Corps  worked with local, corporate partners Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd., both experts in risk management, to create a three-part workshop to help organizations meet the increased information management demands that come with a disaster response.

On February 25, 2014, International Medical Corps successfully conducted part one of this series. Nozomi Kawashima (a certified Information Privacy Consultant at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd.) and Yosuke Sakamoto (Senior Consultant in the Business Risks Department at Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co.) jointly taught participating NGO management staff members about the fundamentals of information management. After hearing specific examples of information management risks faced by corporations and discussing examples from their own organizations, program participants identified common information security risks and worked in groups to complete an information assets identification exercise based on a case study of an imaginary NGO. This exercise helped these local organizations better appreciate and identify security and information managements risks in their own organizations.

The second workshop, held on April 23, 2014, continued using the case study of the imaginary NGO from the previous session. Groups were asked to imagine they were all working for this particular NGO that mistakenly leaked private information about its beneficiaries on a public domain, and to work backwards to identify specific steps it could have taken to prevent this problem from occurring, again helping organizations to better manage security risks in their own entities.

During the third workshop session on May 20, 2014, organizations were given advice about how to monitor and continuously improve their information management process, as well as, how to raise awareness and educate their staff on a regular basis regarding the do’s and don’ts of dealing with information.

Assignments were given to participants before and after each workshop, and the lessons were shared internally with their staff members so that the trainings transferred beyond just the individuals participating in the workshop. At the end of the workshop series, each NGO was equipped with the tools to create its own information management and risk assessment systems that fit its respective organizational needs, including a comprehensive template for an information management rulebook that can be tailored to their organization’s context.

Below are some quotes from the workshop participants describing how this series helped their organizations:

Nozomi Ashida, Administrative Manager for Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Japan - “With the guidance of the experts, we were able to really look at what kinds of information our organization deals with and the different risks we faced with each kind. Once we finish creating our guidelines, we will hold study sessions within our organization so all the staff can have a shared understanding of what information management is for us and to make sure we are all able to implement the new rules.”

Junya Hosono, Administrative Manager for Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) – “Step by step, the workshops led me through the information management process and was easy to follow. I also appreciated that the consultants incorporated examples based on the unique circumstances of NGOs when preparing the workshop material. This made it easy for me to understand the lectures and group activities and was also helpful when I reviewed all the material again on my own. I’m eager to share what I’ve learned with my colleagues and really start building JVC’s information management system.

Yoko Asakawa, Information Manager for JEN – “I joined these workshops because, as JEN’s Information Manager, I felt the need to improve our level of information security. This series allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the concepts behind information management. Through the workshop, group activities, and homework assignments, I was able to “do” as I learned and actually go through the process of creating new rules and regulations for my organization, which further deepened my understanding of the topic. The workshops were very practical, and I gained some hints on how I can share what I’ve learned about information security within my organization.”

Nozomi Ashida and Atsuko Nagai from ADRA Japan
Nozomi Ashida and Atsuko Nagai from ADRA Japan
Junya Hosono from JVC
Junya Hosono from JVC
(center) Yoko Asakawa from JEN
(center) Yoko Asakawa from JEN
Group discussion during a workshop session
Group discussion during a workshop session
Jun 27, 2014

Update on AMDA's International Scholarship Program

Dear Global Giving Donors,

Thank you so much for your hearty support to AMDA's activity for Tohoku.

AMDA has been supporting to the high school students living in Tohoku region, where the number of lives has been impacted by Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on 11 March 2011. AMDA International Scholarship Program has started in March 2011 and 274 students of 8 schools have received the scholarship in the past three years. Each student receives 15,000yen (about 147USD) per month until she/he graduates high school.

We are happy to announce that 45 students graduated from their high schools in March 2014 and go on to higher education to become a medical professional. Thanks to the warm support from our donors, we are able to decide to add more recipients for the year of 2014. We are in the process of choosing more scholarship recipients for this year.

The report in PDF file is attached in below.

Thank you so much again for your continued support.


Attachments:
Jun 23, 2014

Japan Matching Day Successes

Photo courtesy of Academy Camp
Photo courtesy of Academy Camp

Dear GlobalGivers,

Thank you to everyone who continues to support the on-going recovery efforts in Tohoku.  Your donations helped to continue to bring attention to these recovery efforts through a matching campaign at the three-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami. Matching campaigns of this magnitude do not come around often, but it was well worth it for this cause. Overall, $102,336 funds were raised from 783 unique donors! Out of the 32 projects that took part in this matching day, the top three performing projects all raised over $9,000 each without matching. Here are some updates from these organizations:

The Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund’s project Help Students, Families and Schools Recover raised $24,634 from 314 unique donors, making the final fundraising total, with matching, $49,203! This project is working to provide a public library and help the Asahigaoka Gakuen Children’s Home in Kesennuma. In the Fund’s latest report, donors were informed that over 100 books were donated by Ambassador Kennedy to the Taylor Anderson Reading Corner last November. Additionally, for the past three winters, the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund has provided children at  the orphanage in Kesennuma with Christmas presents and other gifts through a Christmas Wish program. All gifts were tailored to each specific child, and there was even a party where the children performed on stage for each other. While the project has not been fully funded yet, the organization wishes to thank all of its incredibly gracious donors. They would not have been able to raise nearly $50,000 in one day without you!

Fukushima Kids Executive Committee has been able to send children to Hokkaido through the project Bring Smiles to 500 Children of Fukushima. Through the Matching Day, Fukushima Kids was able to raise $12,920 from 25 unique donors, rounding out to a total of $24,840 including matching! Since the tragedy, Fukushima Kids has helped over 3,200 children escape to Hokkaido to relax and play outside, instead of being trapped in the disaster-stricken Fukushima. The organization has seen great improvement in the children who have participated in the program, and many wish “when I become an adult, I want to repay the favor to the people who helped me”. Keiko, a mother two, feels so touched that so many around the world have helped Fukushima survivors like herself. She says because of the program, she is no longer “caught in the bitterness of a victim mentality”.

Academy Camp’s project School of Fun for Children in Fukushima also performed very well in the Matching Day. In just one day, Academy Camp raised $9,120 from 51 unique donors, and $18,200 in total! Similar to Fukushima Kids’ work, Academy Camp strives to help the children of Fukushima who are forced to stay indoors because of the disaster aftermath. This project brings roughly 40 children of all ages to areas with lower radiation to allow them to play, learn, and team-build all outside. In their latest report, Academy Camp told the story of a student volunteer from the last camp on Lake Inawashiro, Fukushima. The student described how they all learned how to use an AED and do chest compressions for someone who is choking. They also went out in E-boats on the lake and experienced the beautiful outdoors. The student ended the report by saying “I hope that more people will know about this camp and share the enjoyment with a large number of people together.” Thanks to donors like you, these kids continue to have meaningful experiences they might not otherwise have had a chance to have.

Because of these three organizations, many affected children and families have been able to recover from the travesty of the Japan earthquake and tsunami three years ago. Even though it has been three years, there is still much more work to be done to improve the lives of these individuals. All of this progress, however, would not be possible without all of you - keep up the great work!

Photo courtesy of Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund
Photo courtesy of Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund
Photo from Fukushima Kids Executive Committee
Photo from Fukushima Kids Executive Committee
Photo courtesy of Academy Camp
Photo courtesy of Academy Camp

Links:

Jun 20, 2014

Monthly Report vol.38

Thank you for your continuous support for Civic Force.

Three years ago in May 2011, many volunteers from all over the country came to work in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake during the Golden Week and other holidays. They removed mud and cleaned up debris. Many other people have also participated in volunteer activities organized by NPOs, so the year 2011 is called “the first year of the new volunteer movement.”

More than three years have passed since the disaster and the number of visitors to  the affected areas is gradually declining.

On the other hand, the aid activities have diversified away from collecting donations and working in the areas, and various aid methods have been created.

One way to support long-term reconstruction is “to buy” products from the disaster areas. Products made in these areas include traditional handcrafts dating back to before the disaster, industrial products backed by excellent technology, and delicious food items grown in the nature of Tohoku. Buying these products is one casual way of supporting the region.

Some of the NPOs and companies Civic Force has been supporting through the “NPO Partner Projects,” are creating attractive products.

This 38th Monthly Report focuses on the “recent activities” of our partner NPOs, such as “Peace Jam,” which support mothers in disaster-hit areas,and “Peace Nature Lab,” which sells sweets made from local ingredients.


Attachments:
Jun 20, 2014

Monthly Report vol.37

Thank you for your continuous support for Civic Force.

Three years and a month have passed since the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the disaster affected Sanriku coastal areas including Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures, efforts to build new towns are gradually getting underway, such as elevating ground, and building public houses for the victims. On the other hand, the pace of reconstruction has been very slow in some parts of Fukushima prefecture, which have been seriously impacted by radiation from the nuclear power plant accident.

One hundred thirty thousand nuclear accident evacuees have yet to return to their home town. It is said that more than 47,000 of them are now living in other prefectures, with 20 percent staying with relatives and acquaintances while more than 80 percent have started new lives in unfamiliar places (Source: Reconstruction Agency, as of March, 2014).

The government finally gave up on meeting its initial goal of sending all evacuees back home, and has asked about 25,000 people, whose residences are inside the “difficult-to-return zones” where annual radiation exposure level still exceeds 50 millisieverts, to agree to a de facto “permanent relocation.”

Some hope to return to their home town someday and revitalize the town. Some have no choice but to settle in new places to stabilize their lives. These people are all facing the harsh reality and being forced to make difficult decisions.

In order to respond to such complicated feelings of the evacuees, people in and out of Fukushima Prefecture not only must support the return of evacuees but also have the courage to support those people who are starting new lives away from their home town and implement supportive measures for them.

In this monthly report, we will introduce the support project for accepting evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture, which was launched in Hiroshima in August 2013 as part of the NPO Partner Projects for helping the people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

We will also report on the new aid projects launched by the “Tohoku Common Benefit Investment Fund,” which was established by Civic Force in December 2011 following the earthquake disaster, as well as the progress of the aid for the areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year.


Attachments:
Jun 20, 2014

Monthly Report vol.36

Thank you for your continuous support for Civic Force.

Exactly, three years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to all victims.

There is still a long way to go before the disaster areas will fully recover.  The longer the reconstruction takes, the rate at which people can put their lives back in order will differ for each disaster victim. For a short time after the disaster, all the victims were at the same stage of recovery, living in evacuation centers or temporary housings. However, after three years have passed, evacuees are taking different paths; some people have left town and begun new lives; some have remained and rebuilt their houses; and some have no choice but to remain in temporary houses because they have no prospect for rebuilding.  The reconstruction aid activities are becoming more complex.

Civic Force, based in Miyagi Prefecture, mostly helped in rebuilding local communities and providing back up for reconstruction activities. For Fukushima residents, we implemented various aid activities, such as providing mental-health care for disaster victims, sheltering stranded dogs, assisting relocation services, and so on. Going forward, we will work to maximize our experiences and networks in further strengthening our aid activities in Fukushima Prefecture, where reconstruction tends to show slow progress.

Reconstruction activities in disaster areas, including Fukushima, are still in their early stages. We ask you for your undivided support to help people who never lose their hope and do their best to conquer various difficulties.

This Monthly Report Vol.36 presents: ‘A review of the affected areas’, ‘Two groups from Kesennuma City attend a reconstruction event in France, ‘Aid for Typhoon Affected Areas in Central Philippines’, and ‘Supporting the strengthening of Sri Lanka’s Disaster risk reduction capacity.’

We highly appreciate your comments about Civic Force activities.


Attachments:
Jun 20, 2014

Monthly Report vol.35

Thank you for your continuous support for Civic Force.

Two years and eleven months have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.While infrastructure has been improved and the reconstruction effort has become visible in the disaster affected areas, roughly 270,000 people have evacuated or moved to temporary housings or houses of relatives or acquaintances across the country as of the end of January, 2014 (source: Cabinet Office).Many disaster victims are now concerned about rebuilding of their houses, which were damaged by the tsunami, and about how to use the devastated lands along the coastline. Inthe Osawa District of Karakuwa Town in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, where Civic Force has supported collective relocation since October 2011, .the “Osawa District Association for Promoting the Collective Relocation Project” organized a visit to the candidate site for the community center and the residents have been discussing the new town development with specialists.

In this Monthly Report Vol.35, we will highlight the NPO Partner Projects which have been responding to the changing needs of affected areas. We will also report on the activities of the international organization, “Asia Pacific Alliance,” which we have been operating concurrently with the support projects in Tohoku. We ask for your undivided support, not only for Civic Force but also for the numerous people involved who are working together to reconstruct the disaster-hit regions.

 


Attachments:
Jun 12, 2014

Building a new center for local farmers

Yamamoto-cho. Helping out building green houses.
Yamamoto-cho. Helping out building green houses.

Hands On Tokyo (HOT) volunteers continue to support a local farmer – Saito-san – in Yamamoto-cho.  In March, 15 HOT volunteers (including two teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Tokyo area) helped Saito-san build two new greenhouses and, in April, 16 HOT volunteers (including one teenager who lives in a children’s home in the Tokyo area) helped Saito-san install plastic siding on several greenhouses. HOT is also supporting Saito-san in the building of the New Rice Center to support rice farmers in the Yamamoto-cho area so they will have a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, gather and share information.  The New Rice Center will also be used to train new farmers. The cost of the materials was funded by Boy Scout Troop #5 at the American School in Japan (ASIJ) and the Tokyo Law Tennis Club.  With your generous donations, 19 HOT volunteers (including high school students from a volunteer club at the American School in Japan) helped build the New Rice Center in May.  The next day, the same 19 HOT volunteers assisted with the Ogatsu Island Farm Project which aims to grow local produce as a new business in Ogatsu.  The volunteers helped launch the Project by helping clear the soil.

 

Saito-san, his wife and other local rice farmers who will use the New Rice Center and those who are launching the Ogatsu Island Farm Project could not have done all this work without the support of HOT volunteers given the nature of the tasks and the continued labor shortage in certain parts of Tohoku.  Going forward, we will organize more volunteer trips to further support the New Rice Center, the Ogatsu Island Farm Project and Saito-san and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.

 

Even though it is more than three years since the triple disaster in Tohoku, there are still many people residing in temporary housing. With your generous contributions, HOT has been able to continue organizing cafés and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku as a way of supporting the residents who lost their homes in the tsunami while they are waiting to move into new homes. These events encourage people to spend a bit of time outside of their small temporary living quarters and to socialize with others in their temporary community. 

 

In March, we held a spring festival themed café at which a HOT volunteer performed several hula dances and taught the temporary housing residents the meaning of many hula dance moves.  The residents and the HOT volunteers then danced several hula dances together.  HOT volunteers also made and served yakisoba, sausages with tomatoes, soup, French toast, hot drinks, cheesecake and other sweets.  In April, we held another café at which HOT volunteers made lunch for the temporary housing residents and served hot drinks and sweets.  After lunch, one HOT volunteer played several beautiful songs on his keyboard.  At both cafes, it was wonderful seeing the power of music and dance to bring members of the temporary community and HOT volunteers together and to see so many smiling faces.  Thank you for making this possible with your generous donations. 

 

Going forward and so long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will hold more cafés and events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  We also will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the O-Link community house (which was built with the help of your generous donations), to clean local beaches so that people from the greater Sendai area will continue to visit the area and thereby support the local economy and to hold special events to encourage those who are still waiting to resume their lives in Ogatsu and the surrounding communities.

 

Thank you in advance for your continued support which brings smiles to the faces of so many people in Tohoku.    

Yamamoto-cho. HOT cafe at temporary housing site
Yamamoto-cho. HOT cafe at temporary housing site
With ASIJ club. Making sand bags
With ASIJ club. Making sand bags
With ASIJ club. Building NRC
With ASIJ club. Building NRC's new pipe house.
Ogatsu. Removing rocks from soil for the new field
Ogatsu. Removing rocks from soil for the new field
Ogatsu. With ASIJ club and Ogatsu Island project
Ogatsu. With ASIJ club and Ogatsu Island project
Jun 4, 2014

Monthly Report vol.34

Two years and ten months after the Great East Japan Earthquake


Thank you for your continuous support for Civic Force.
Tomorrow marks two years and ten months since the Great East Japan Earthquake.
People in the coastal areas of Tohoku region, which were severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, started the third New Year since the disaster. How was the year 2013 for the people of Tohoku on their way to recovery?
Civic Force has been supporting reconstruction of disaster-affected areas since immediately after the earthquake disaster. Last year we started a full-scale operation of the Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Project, which consists of five pillars. Utilizing the networks we have built, we have been supporting independent activities that aim for local revitalization.
In this first Monthly Report of 2014, we will report our support activities in Tohoku and our emergency relief activities in the Philippines, which was hit by a typhoon in November, 2013. In 2014, we will continue our support activities for reconstruction of Tohoku and will strengthen our cooperation in Asia as a member of the “Asia Pacific Alliance,” an international cooperation organization.
We ask for your undivided support, not only for Civic Force but also for the numerous people involved who are working together to reconstruct the disaster-hit region.

If you need further information. Please see the attached file.


Attachments:
Jun 4, 2014

Monthly Report vol.33

Two years and nine months after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Two years and nine months have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the disaster-hit Tohoku region, more than 300,000 people have been forced to live an uncomfortable life as evacuees. Reconstruction has just started. While we have been struggling to rebuild the devastated Tohoku region,other areas in the world have also been hit by natural catastrophes)

We ask for your undivided support, not only for Civic Force but also for the numerous people involved who are working together to reconstruct the disaster-hit region.

Wings for Life Project

—Supporting helicopter transport service for emergency medical purposes—

Even before the disaster, lack of medical services had been a problem in the coastal areas devastated by the earthquake. We are planning to start a helicopter service to provide better access to advanced medical institutions. Aiming to launch the service by this autumn, we are now in the final stage of adjusting the details with people concerned.

If you need further information, please see the attached file.


Attachments:
May 30, 2014

Campaign Ending - PWA Launches New Recovery Page

This Year
This Year's Oyster Harvest Was a Bumper Crop

Dear Friend of Tohoku,

Thank you for your past donations to help this campaign, “Revitalize the Fishing Industry in Northeast Japan.” With your generous support, since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami hit in March 2011 we have helped many fishing families in more than twenty coastal districts return to their way of life, boosting the economy and sense of stability among these communities. We have built a windbreak for oyster workers, provided small business grants for marine repairmen, bought abalone equipment for 571 fishermen and sea urchin supplies for 118 more, purchased supplies for fishing cooperatives, supported wakame harvesters and Kesennuma maritime high schoolers, and much more. We are so grateful for your help, without which we could not have turned these projects into a reality.

To consolidate our various Tohoku recovery projects, we have decided to close this project campaign and combine it with our related efforts in a new campaign: Rebuilding Communities and Livelihoods in Japan. In addition to providing fishing equipment, this campaign will focus on all aspects of fishing community needs:  building fishing sheds, providing temporary housing support, and working with the fishing cooperatives to ensure fisher folk have the resources they need to reopen their businesses and resume their way of life.

Our commitment to Tohoku families and livelihoods is ongoing, but new projects require additional funding. We hope you will continue to support our efforts by giving to this new campaign. You can donate and view project updates at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/rebuilding-communities-and-livelihoods-in-japan/updates/.  You can use the “Get Updates via Email” field on the bottom right to subscribe.

Thank you again for your support of this vital project. 

May 28, 2014

Bringing Back Smiles to Ishinomaki

Volunteers and locals catch fish together.
Volunteers and locals catch fish together.

“Come Join Our Fishery!” Event Continues to Succeed and Expands to Other Villages

The Oshika Peninsula is an area made up of over thirty fishing villages, each with its own unique culture and traditions and their name ending with “-hama.”Since two years ago when the project called “Come to Join Fishing” was launched, the aim has been to address problems in the fishing villages and ways to rebuild them. One way to help rebuild the villages is to attract outside visitors to the area by promoting Oshika`s attractions.

With the help of JEN, this project has been expanding to other fishing villages. In March two main events were held which promoted Oshika`s culture. The first, a Fishing Experience called “Come to Join Fishing Event” allowed participants to enjoy spring foods of the villages.

At the second event, participants were given the opportunity to experience a four hundred year old fox deity shrine festival at Kitsunezaki-hama, and some even carried amikoshi, a portable shrine, during the parade. JEN has been committed on working toward creating a sustainable community—one in which the locals will be able to continue supporting themselves.

A Lantern Vigil is Held to Remember Those Lost 3 Years Ago

Kadonowaki`s “Maneki Community”, a resident`s association created after the tragedy and made of some one hundred thirty people from 2-4 chome, organized a lantern vigil to commemorate those lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake. About eighty people living in the town and those taking shelter at other locations came to the ceremony to remember and pray for their loved ones.

Many took part in filling in the names of their neighbors in a handmade map. The pattern of the lantern vigil was created by Mr. Toyokazu Abe of Kadonowaki; it represents a cirque, which is a piece of jewelry worn by Buddha, and the soul, which is in the shape of a heart.

Ishinomaki Elementary Schools Receive New Playgrounds

JEN donated four playgrounds to elementary schools in Ishinomaki. With many of the playgrounds destroyed by the disaster and those remaining replaced by temporary quarter sites, children were left with nothing to play with outside.

Fortunately, on March 12 a presentation ceremony at Kama Elementary School took place, followed by one at Okaido Elementary School. Two other playgrounds donated by JEN were installed in Teizann Elementary School and Kaduma Elementary School by the end of April.

Newly Renovated Community House Opens

On March 23, a concert for the completion of the Koganehama Community House, located in Watanoha District in the northern region of Ishinomaki City, took place. With over one hundred thirty locals present, singer Katsuragi performed along with a surprise appearance from singer Okunn, a member of the gospel group RAG FAIR.

JEN has been helping to restore the building since July 2011. In March 2012, JEN led a workshop for locals on how to maintain a community house and helped restore a restroom and the interior of the building.

In order to successfully manage the community house, five officials from five administrative regions were put in charge. They have been working on receiving funding for additional repairs and organized this concert. Mr. Tahahiro Nagai expressed gratitude towards JEN and hopes that the community becomes independent and self-reliant in the near future.

Kadonowaki Elementary School Front’s New Garden

On March 29th and 30th, JEN assisted in moving a flower garden to the front of Kadonowaki Elementary School. This project was initiated upon request by the Kadonowaki Junior High School students.

Despite the event overlapping with their spring vacation, many students came out to help. About fifty students, forty-three volunteers, parents, and children helped dig out over eight-hundred viola seedlings, tulip bulbs, and a signboard and transported them to Kadonowaki`s school front.

One Kadonowaki Junior High student Miss Seika Sakurai shared her thoughts on the project with us: “It was a lot of fun! The project started when my sister was my age, so I hope we can continue it as a good tradition.”

Lantern vigil in honor of those lost 3 years ago.
Lantern vigil in honor of those lost 3 years ago.
A concert is held at the new community house.
A concert is held at the new community house.
A student enjoys the new playground.
A student enjoys the new playground.
Students replant flowers in front of their school.
Students replant flowers in front of their school.
May 23, 2014

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: May

MAKIBIZ MARKETING SEMINAR, A SUCCESS!

Business support is one of MakiBiz's two main focus of works. One way we provide this type of support is through hosting our business seminars, in partnership with business experts. On May 7, our successful four-day marketing seminar, "Using Design to Expand Your Market" came to an end.

This seminar series along with the one-on-one consultations that came with it, were led by our partner, Mr. Kasama from Communa Translation Design. Approximately 40 businesses and supporting organizations participated in these events, and worked rigorously in coming up with a marketing plan for their business.

In the seminars titled, "Strategizing new products to expand your market" and "How to work with a designer," participants had the opportunity to learn about the basics of marketing and branding. The attendees earnestly listened, as Mr. Kasama began with the question, "What is design?" - a question that was often floating on their minds without anyone to ask.

The one-on-one consultations sessions were particularly popular. We could see the faces of participants gradually lighten up, as they received advice on solving current issues, and tips on next steps to take to further grow their businesses. Seeing this gave us a renewed confirmation on the importance of working one-on-one with affected business owners. We plan to have seminars like this more regularly in the future.

 

 

UPDATES

MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

Baikado, Oikawa Denki, Konpiramaru, and Tamiko Abe are currently under construction or in their design phases.  With the goal to complete all projects by August 2014, we are working with clients and the design and construction team to move each project forward.  Learn more about these projects, as well as the completed ones on each project page on the Open Architecture Network.

 

MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 170 business owners since its office opened in November 2012.  Information about our clients, along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

 

Gifu Nagaragawa Rotary Club visits MakiBiz

On April 24, we spoke with Gifu Nagaragawa's Rotary Club members, who visited MakiBiz, displaying interest in our work.

Our work at MakiBiz is gradually reaching a wider audience, and we are frequently receiving inquiries from architects who want to learn more, and from volunteers looking to get involved. Thank you! We hope to continue expanding our fan base!

 

STAND UP WEEK

This year, we'll be participating in [STAND UP WEEK], an event that is held a week before  Ishinomaki's biggest festival, " Kawabiraki (River Opening)." This event, titled "Expo for creating the future," uniquely highlights people and groups around the city through various events and activities.  MakiBiz is currently strategizing a fun way to participate in this event!

 

 

EVENTS

MakiBiz participating in [STAND UP WEEK 2014: Role-model City for Creating a Future
July 25-August 1
Place: Ishinomaki
About: Using the four scenarios: play + feel + make + eat, there will be many opportunities for visitors to experience the new Ishinomaki!
Organized by: ISHINOMAKI 2.0

 


JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND PROGRAM NEEDS 

Links:

May 20, 2014

Preparing Red and White Rice Cakes for Students!

With the graduating students of Toni District
With the graduating students of Toni District

   On March 12th, 2014, AAR Japan and the ladies who live in Kojirahama Temporary Housing Complex in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, prepared red and white rice cakes for the students and teachers of Toni Junior High School. Kamaishi City suffered from catastrophic impact caused by the 3.11 earthquake. The ladies living in the Complex located within 5 minute walk from the school adore these junior high school students as if they were their own grandchildren, and have been wishing to do something for them. Likewise, Toni Junior High School appreciates the relationship with the residents of Kojirahama Temporary Housing Complex and often invites the residents to their school events. 

   To celebrate the graduation of the class 2014, the ladies suggested preparing something heartwarming as a graduation present, so AAR Japan decided on red and white rice cakes, as the combination of red and white is a symbol of auspicious or happy occasion in Japanese culture. As it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare rice cakes with traditional equipment, AAR Japan provided two new rice cake machines to the local community center in Toni district.

   With their practiced hands, the ladies finished preparing rice cakes so much faster than we initially expected. Soft and aromatic with the scent of glutinous rice, their rice cakes came out even better than the ones sold at stores. AAR Japan staff was moved when hearing the participant say “Knowing that this is for the students definitely gives us motivation!”

   In Japan, celebration has been traditionally accompanied by rice cakes. People used to prepare rice cakes with traditional equipment but are more apt to buy them at a store. Having two new rice cake machines, ladies of Kojirahama Temporary Housing Complex are now able to prepare rice cakes whenever they want to. In fact, the ladies were already discussing preparing rice cakes for the celebration ceremony of raising the framework of a public housing complex. 

   We do not know yet when the residents of Kojirahama Temporary Housing Complex will be able to move into new permanent houses. Some of the construction sites are finally fixed, but even on those places general contractors are not yet arranged to start the construction.  The prospect of moving out from the Temporary Housing Complex is still not clear.

   The longer the life continues in Temporary Housing Complex, the more important such social events become for the residents; as it is easy to isolate themselves in the Temporary Housing Complex.    Though the preparing of red and white rice cakes, the ladies of Kojirahama Temporary Housing Complex were able to socialize with each other as well as to build strong relationship with Toni Junior High School.  We sincerely hope that the young and the old of Toni Town continue to unite and move forward together. 

   This activity was made possible by your generous donations. We have purchased two new rice cake machines and some glutinous rice for this activity.

"Gotta shape the rice cakes while they are hot!"
"Gotta shape the rice cakes while they are hot!"
"These rice cakes are soft and delicious!"
"These rice cakes are soft and delicious!"
Apr 21, 2014

Moving Forward into A New Stage

Shop Tent Used as a Storage
Shop Tent Used as a Storage

When I met Mr. Yoshinobu Yamauchi, the President of the Temporary Tent Shop and the Vice President of the Isatomae Fukko Shotengai (Isatomae Redevelopment Arcade) in Isatomae, Minami-Sanrikucho this time, he looked more hopeful than ever before. It is because the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce (ICC) started discussing about the construction and operation of a new shopping arcade to be built on a raised land.

He was informed that elevating the height of a piece of land, where all shops will temporarily move in, will start around September 2014 and that the present shop arcade will move there, may be, around April 2015. Since temporary shops will be smaller than the present one, they will reuse the shop tent, which the Refugee International Japan in cooperation with the DSIA donated, for storing many equipment and commodities. (As an attached picture shows, it is presently used by a company which owns the land there as a storage.) Then, finally, around April 2016 a new shop arcade will be ready on the raised land of where they are presently operating.

Now, they started discussing whether they will establish a cooperative or a company for operating the new arcade. Given complexities involved in establishing a cooperative, they seem to be in favor of establishing a company, which may be easier to borrow money from banks for building the arcade. They are also talking about the size of investment each shop needs to make and the amount of subsidies the government provides, and even started contacting diverse organizations to find out whether they are interested in borrowing office space. The owners of the new arcade will be the members of the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce, but in order to generate revenue for the operating company, they are also talking to medical doctors, dentists, and other organizations to see if they are interested in borrowing office space. Since they are informed to establish a company by February 2015 and start hiring one staff to operate it, they are now contacting people to figure out the size of an arcade to accommodate diverse needs. In a sense, for the first time after many months of discussions about their plan, they started shifting to the phase of concretizing the shopping arcade, though they may face frequent ups and downs until they can finally move into a newly established arcade. We need to continuously and psychologically support them to go through another phase of challenges.

Donations made through the GlobalGiving have been helping the Istomae Fukko Shotengai to sustain the shop tent and organize diverse events. One of attached pictures show a remnant of an event they organized to commemorate their post box drifting to Okinawa via possibly Hawaii Islands, while they are preparing for the White Fish Festival as shown in their homepage and also used clothes sales in front of the Athlete Yamauchi during this weekend as shown in an picture.

They are now planning to have a big event on June 15, 2014, when Japan will have a soccer match against the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, the first Japanese match in the World Soccer Game 2014. They will install three big-screen televisions, and watch the game. They already have about fifty flags of Japanese soccer teams as shown in an attached picture, and will have the visits of J-League soccer players, a cheer band, and cheer leaders. They will also sell food so that visitors can barbecue local food there. But for the first time, I learned that they can organize such event, since they have been developing relations with Japanese soccer teams, even going back twenty five years ago. They provided a training ground to Japanese soccer teams, especially to Kashima Antlers. Mr. Yamauchi has been a key member developing such relations. For the redevelopment of Isatomae community, they are making full use of good connections they have been developing for many years. And the DSIA, taking a long-term perspective, also hopes to be a good supporting organization to them, especially by mediating the goodwill of GlobalGiving donors.

Flags Donated from Japanese Soccer Leagues
Flags Donated from Japanese Soccer Leagues
Remnant of Event Commemorating Post Box Return
Remnant of Event Commemorating Post Box Return
Used Clothes Sales
Used Clothes Sales

Links:

Apr 17, 2014

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: April

Highlight: Mitazono Wakaba Kindergarten Opens Its Doors!

On March 29th, children and parents filled the kindergarten for the pre-opening event where children full of excitement and energy will soon be running around.

A large group effort was made in an effort to complete the building before this event. Architecture for Humanity helped sand off column edges, floors and walls, and built a few shelving units with Professor Ishihara, architect of record, who brought up a group of students from Chiba (about an 8-hour drive away). Meanwhile the contractor worked full speed to build the pavement and complete the final touches, completing the building just in time for the event.

On event day, the building quickly filled with excited children and parents as they arrived to get a first taste of their school. The teachers introduced themselves, explained the overall schedule and curriculum, and called the children one by one to receive their new school uniforms. Following the event, the children ran around the building, chasing each other and the balloons, and running around the outdoor corridor in circles - the children's favorite part of the building for sure.

We look forward to seeing the children use the space with their excitement and energy!

 

PROGRAM UPDATES 

MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

Our Wakaba Kindergarten project was recently completed, adding to our list of finished projects within this program, and at our completed Ushiogami Project, paper craftsman, Master Tsukahara lead a workshop on April 12.

Five projects have now been completed, and the remaining four projects are currently in construction, permitting and design phases! A more detailed report on current RFP projects to be posted on our website's update section soon!

 

MakiBiz Business Seminar

The launch event for our current MakiBiz Business Seminar Series: Using Design to Expand Your Market, was held in February and has been a great hit. Lead by Mr. Kasama from Communa Translation Design, this seminar series is being held over a period of four days. Learn more here.

MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 167 business owners since its office opened in November 2012. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

THANK YOU

We greatly thank those who participated in GlobalGiving's Japan Matching Campaign that ran from March 11. Your continued support enables us to continue supporting communities in need. Thank you!

 

 

EVENTS

  • MakiBiz Business Seminar: Using Design to Expand Market - April 30, May 30 MakiBiz continues to host free business seminars through our partner, Mr. Kasama (Japanese only). Seminar recap to come!

 

 

OTHER NEWS

Say Hello!

This month we had a new addition to our team! Kayoko Sakamoto will be working as a Communications Associate at MakiBiz. Having just completed her HQ training, she's ready to roll!

Kayoko comes from a professional background in event coordination and promotion, and has managed several community-based events in Japan. She is another believer of the power of social design, and loves to travel and take photos.

Welcome, Kayoko! We're happy to have you on our team!

 

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND PROGRAM NEEDS

Mar 31, 2014

Support Tohoku through Music

Dear Global Giving Donors.

Thank you for your continued support for Tohoku, Japan. We really appreciate your generosity.

Three years have passed since the calamity had hit Tohoku on March 11th, 2011. From Day 2 of the disaster, AMDA has been supporting the people in Tohoku during the emergency relief and rehabilitation phases. As an NGO specializing in medical care sector, we have conducted mobile clinic, accupuncture therapies, and mental care program for children.

Aside from the medical care, AMDA has been holding “Kizuna Concert”, a same-generation exchange program through music. Just recently, we held the third Kizuna Concert in Okayama, Japan, where AMDA Headquarters is located.

To read more about it, please click on the attached PDF file. 

Thank you! 


Attachments:
Mar 19, 2014

Using Corporate Risk Management Know-How to Build the Resilience of Local Japanese Organizations

Nozomi Kawashima giving a lecture
Nozomi Kawashima giving a lecture

An often overlooked factor in disaster response concerning non-government organizations (NGOs) is being able to remain functional after a disaster damages the area where their operations are based. In order for an NGO to deliver relief services to the affected local populations, they must not only survive the disaster themselves, but have a plan in place to ensure that they are able to immediately deliver relief to local populations. International Medical Corps is continuing to work with corporate experts in Business Continuity Planning (BCP) by delivering a second series of disaster preparedness workshops designed to help local Japanese NGOs create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts.

Last Fall, International Medical Corps and corporate experts delivered a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning (BCP). When asked about issues not covered in the first series of workshops, NGO participants said that information management is a major concern when delivering humanitarian assistance. Whether during an emergency or in stable circumstances, NGOs need to gather, store, process and communicate large amounts of information, some of which is potentially sensitive. Sensitive information may include personal data about beneficiaries, staff, partners and donors, as well as, internal information about their operations. Many Japanese NGOs realize the need to protect the sensitive information they have been entrusted with, but they often do not have the systems, policies, or procedures necessary to protect the information against various elements of risk.

To address these concerns, International Medical Corps is renewing their partnership with veteran experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations, Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd. This new three-part workshop series is focused on Information Management, and is designed to give Japanese NGOs practical knowledge on how to better manage and protect their information.

At the end of the workshop series, each NGO will have created its own information management rulebook that fits its respective organizational needs. Assignments are given to participants before and after each workshop, and the lessons are shared internally with their staff members so that the training is transferred beyond the individuals participating in the workshop. 

Workshop Part 1: An Introduction to Information Management for NGOs

On February 25, 2014, International Medical Corps successfully conducted part one of this three-workshop series, in which a total of 20 key staff members from 13 organizations participated.

Nozomi Kawashima (a certified Information Privacy Consultant at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd.) and Yosuke Sakamoto (Senior Consultant in Business Risks Department at Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co.) jointly taught participating NGO management staff members about the fundamentals of information management. The topics covered included:

  1. The Essentials of Risk Management and Information Security
  2. Issues concerning Personal Information & the Need for Information Management
  3. Risks related to Information Management & Case Examples
  4. Assessment and Prioritization of Information Assets (group-work)

Computer viruses, hacking, information mishandling, and damage/destruction of equipment due to accidents or natural disasters were among the various hazards discussed. During the lecture, the consultants introduced examples from their own corporate sector, including the major risks that have been documented by corporations, and various initiatives being undertaken to protect their information. In small group discussions, NGO personnel shared examples from their own experiences and compared corporate risks with the risks they saw within their own organizations.

NGO staff agreed that among the most common risks they faced in information security included: the failure of staff to identify sensitive information and/or not taking extra precautions to protect it; the lack of a clearly communicated policy within their organization around information security; and the lack of IT skills among staff to enable effective implementation of information security measures.

To encourage the participants to think strategically about information management, the consultants accentuated their lecture with case study activities. They introduced an example of an NGO worker who had taken home confidential beneficiary data in order to work on a report with a fast-approaching deadline, only to have her home PC infected by a computer virus that proceeded to steal all of the data. Participants discussed what measures the organization should take to handle this situation responsibly and to minimize negative consequences. Afterwards, the consultants commented on the proposed approaches and gave their own advice about how they would deal with this scenario. For the last 30 minutes of the workshop, participants worked in groups to complete an information assets identification exercise based on a case study of an imaginary NGO by using the lessons they learned during the lecture.

Workshop Part 2 (scheduled in April 2014):Risk Assessment and Prioritization for Information Management.

Workshop 2 will focus on practical training by incorporating a variety of group-work activities and discussions based on specific scenarios. Topics the NGOs will examine at this workshop include: assessing the nature of information collected by each organization; assessing the risks to beneficiaries, staff members, and the organization as a whole if a breach of their information occurs; assessing current physical, digital, and communication information security measures; and identifying potential vulnerabilities (e.g., failures in awareness and/or security procedures) and how to address them.

Workshop Part 3 (scheduled in May 2014): Countermeasures for Information Management and Creating Information Management Procedures

Based on their work in the previous workshops, each NGO will create an informational management rulebook that meets its organizational needs. The BCP experts will provide feedback to each organization’s draft and offer suggestions/advice for improvement.

Participants working in small groups
Participants working in small groups
Yosuke Sakamoto giving feedback to participants
Yosuke Sakamoto giving feedback to participants
Mar 13, 2014

On Tohoku Match Day, Opportunities for Recovery

In Minamisanriku, Signs of Progress and Issues for the Future

It is still winter in Tohoku, but spring is fast approaching! On the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami there is still much work to be done. According to the Government of Japan there are still 267,000 displaced residents living in temporary housing.  These residents will continue to need much support - community programs, livelihood assistance, and assistance transitioning to permanent housing. Peace Winds America has committed to undertaking programs that focus on these vulnerable residents still living in temporary houses. Because so many of these residents were in the fishing industry, support for this program will have a significant impact on this community.

Program Past and Future

With your support we have partnered with critical fishing cooperatives to provide equipment for members (rods, nets, hooks, paddles, and other specialized equipment). We have supported the cooperatives themselves, ensuring they remain vital to help their members.  Together we have provided work and storage space for displaced fishing families in the form of sheds. Last update we touched on the completed oyster shield, which remains critical, and a projected LED lighting project which continues to move forward. We will continue to work with the fishing cooperatives and fishing families in the future, with an emphasis on helping Tohoku residents in temporary housing. We will complete the lighting program, making the port that much effective. And we will remain in contact with you, our donors.

Your Match Makes a Difference!

In honor of the 3rd anniversary of East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, GlobalGiving is hosting a matching campaign for projects that work for recovery in Tohoku area.  Today, your donations will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving until matchign funds last.  To donate, click on "give now" button below.  

GlobalGiving's 100% match is an exciting opportunity to renew our commitment to Tohoku. Together we can ensure that our long-term recovery programs remain in operation, helping the neediest. As always, thank you for your support and your generosity. 

Mar 10, 2014

Japan #3YearsLater: Gratitude in the Form of Photos and Stories.

"I'm thankful for the chance for kids in Fukushima to become independent."

Today, to commemorate the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, we invite you to see the faces and read stories from people, like Keiko, above, who have been affected by your donations: 3yearslater3-11.tumblr.com.

To date, you and other GlobalGiving donors have helped fund more than 35 organizations doing relief and recovery work. You helped Project YUI set up a nursery home in Ishinomaki, so that mothers will have time to look for jobs. You supported OISCA International with their re-forestation project in Natori City.  You sent ETIC funds to send entrepreneurs to help revitalize small businesses in Tohoku.  You should feel proud that you’ve helped contribute to  the incredible accomplishments that these organizations have made toward re-building homes, lives, and communities in Japan.

Furthermore, because the work of recovery and community re-building in Tohoku continues,  we are announcing one final matching campaign for Japan recovery organizations.  GlobalGiving will match your donations to Japan projects at 100% from March 10th, 11am EDT (March 11th, 0am JST) until $100,000 matching funds last. Please consider supporting organizations that are doing amazing ongoing work in Japan.

If you would like to share a recovery story that you're thankful for, please join us in posting your #3yearslater story on Facebook, twitter, or instagram this week. Here's how:
   Step 1: Write on a piece of paper, "I'm thankful for...." (and fill-in the blank!)
   Step 2: Take an un-selfie of yourself holding the paper
   Step 3: Post to Facebook, twitter, or Instagram using the #3yearslater hashtag

Once again, we’d like to thank your very generous support over the last three years.  Although this will be our last matching campaign for Japanese organizations, dollars raised through this fund will continue to be allocated to our partners in Tohoku, and the vital work will continue.

Warmly,

Mari Seto and the GlobalGiving Team

 

"I
"I'm thankful to be a part of restoration"

Links:

Mar 10, 2014

Double your donations today to support community leaders in Ishinomaki!

Mr. Homma and his wife
Mr. Homma and his wife

Today, we'd like to share a story out of many lives you have changed - through supporting our project.

Mr. Homma's story

Mr. Homma is a chairman of the neighborhood association of Kadonowaki. Great East Japan Earthquake on 11th March, 2011 changed the fate of the area. Kadonowaki, which is one of the most suffered areas and 400 people of 4000 dead or missing people in Ishinomaki city fall a sacrifice to the earthquake there. After the earthquake, some people were sacrificed to tsunami and some moved to temporary housing, and only 60 people (23 families) of 2000 people who had been a member of neighbor association of Kadonowaki remained there and the neighbor association had had to suspended activities. However, the activity ran with JEN leaded the association to start again.

He became connected to JEN in October 2012 when about a year and half had passed since the earthquake. At the time, JEN supported “Recovery Program for us” ran by junior high school students in Kadonowaki and looked for a place such as everything was washed away to make flowerpots. After that, Mr. Homma, had being worked for gathering 4 neighbor associations together as a member of “Maneki (Inviting) Community”, and JEN formed “Watering for Flower pots Committee” and moved forward the project with students, habitants and volunteers together. In April 2013, flowers bloomed beautifully with some messages of hope attached. Two years has passed since the earthquake and Mr. Homma said “I am finally ready to recover.” In August 2013, JEN supported the construction of community house, “Maneki House” as a center of interaction of people. Some events such as tea ceremony and exercise class for health are held on a regular basis. Also, festival to praise Jizo (guardian) which had been canceled because of the earthquake and former habitants who had moved to temporary housing came back to the town. Mr. Homma hopes that many people would come back to the town after the land readjustment even if it is only one person.

In honor of the 3rd anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, GlobalGiving is hosting a matching campaign for recovery projects in the Tohoku area. Starting today, your donations will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving until matching funds last. To donate, click on "give now" button below.  

Thank you for supporting this project, and for helping to tranform the lives of many people!

 

Feb 28, 2014

HandsOnTokyo GlobalGiving Japan Matching Campaign

Exciting news! Once again, GlobalGiving, the US-based charity fundraising website, has announced a donation matching campaign for Tohoku projects. As in the previous year, GlobalGiving will match all donations by 100% (maximum $1,000 per donation) until their funds of US$100,000 run out.  In the last two campaigns, we received donations from hundreds of donors throughout the world. We would like to express our most heartfelt thanks to all those who donated so generously during this campaign.

In commemoration of the tragic events that occurred in northeast Japan, this year's matching campaign will begin on March 11, 2014. At Hands On Tokyo, our goal is to raise US$15,000 in this campaign.  With 100% matching from GlobalGiving, it is an extraordinary opportunity to make your donations go twice as far. We hope you will help us again in support of our Tohoku Projects.

This campaign is a reminder of just how much there is still left to do after three years from the Great East Japan earthquake. To this end, Hands On Tokyo is dedicated to continuing its programs in Tohoku to support the rebuilding and recovery of the region. O-Link House, our community center in Ogatsu, Miyagi-ken, was completed last spring and has since been hosting numerous activities. Please help us provide ongoing and sustainable community development in Ogatsu and other areas affected by the tragedy.

Please help spread the word about this important opportunity to support our Tohoku Projects. Below is the link to our project on the GlobalGiving site:

  **Please wait until March 11 (when the matching campaign starts) to make your donation** http://goto.gg/8934

We will be sending you a reminder email before the launch of the campaign, and again shortly before March 11.

Thank you for your generosity and continued support.

The Hands On Tokyo Team

Feb 27, 2014

3 Year Anniversary

As we enter March 2014 we're facing the third year anniversary of the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake and thus the foundation of Safecast. We thought this would be a good time to both reflect on what has been done in that time as well as look to the future and what the next 3 years might bring.

On our end, we just celebrated hitting our 16 millionth data point and co-founder Joi Ito will be giving a talk next month at TED about how we started and what came of that. The bGeigie Nano kits that we developed have been very popular and enabled that huge spike in data points now coming in from all corners of the earth including Antartica and Sudan - places we never imaged collecting data.

In Tokyo on March 15 & 16 we're hosting a series of talks on this "what happens next" topic and thinking about everything from sustainability of this project, to black swan events that are hard to predict but come with huge concequences. On Saturday we'll be at Tokyo University and on Sunday we'll be back at our offices in Shibuya. On Sunday we'll also host a global hackathon to update the website and fine tune our online offerings. If you'd like to join, or help out from afar please join the Safecast hackathons mailing list which can be found here.

We're also hoping to host our first US events in the following months, it's looking like DC in April, and Los Angeles shortly there after. If you are in those areas and want to help out please stay tuned.

Once again, thank you for all your support. We really couldn't have pulled this off without it.

Feb 20, 2014

Cooking Lesson at Takami Temporary Housing Complex

All the colors of paella feast participants
All the colors of paella feast participants' eyes

AAR Japan held a cooking lesson in a community hall at Takami Town Daiichi Temporary Housing Complex, Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture on December 23rd, 2013.

With the objective of cooking a delicious yet easy meal using only a frying pan, 18 participants made “Paella”, a popular Spanish dish. The participants enjoyed cooking with the help of Yoshiko SHIODA, cooking adviser, and the paella came out looking very tasty.

Participants expressed their satisfaction and joy. They happily made comments such as “I cannot usually make such a posh dish”, “All the colors from a variety of ingredients make it look delicious”, and “I appreciate the fact that the process was very easy, using only a pan”.

As a dessert, participants tried vanilla ice cream with soybean flour and a few drops of pure soy sauce. Although they were surprised by the unexpected combination of ice cream and soy sauce at first, the first mouthful of the ice cream brought smiles on their face. 

The residents of Takami Town Daiichi Temporary Housing Complex evacuated from the coastal area of Minamisoma City. They have no prospect of returning home due to the tsunami damage and radioactive contamination. According to some participants of the cooking lesson, community events, in which the complex residents gather and make something together help networking. As such, they would like to have similar kind of opportunities.

Yoshiko SHIODA (left), cooking adviser
Yoshiko SHIODA (left), cooking adviser
Participants carefully cut vegetables
Participants carefully cut vegetables
Male participants tried their best
Male participants tried their best
Female participants showed their skillfulness
Female participants showed their skillfulness
All participants had a second helping
All participants had a second helping
All of the participants
All of the participants
Feb 19, 2014

Christmas & Valentine's in Tohoku

Volunteers handing out Christmas pillows
Volunteers handing out Christmas pillows

HOT volunteers continue to support a local farmer – Saito-san -- in Yamamoto-cho. In December, 20 HOT volunteers (including two teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Tokyo area) cleared Saito-san’s asparagus field and winterized three of his greenhouses. In February, 16 HOT volunteers (including one teenager from the children’s home) helped clear paprika plants from two of his greenhouses.  Saito-san and his wife could not have done this without the support of HOT volunteers given the nature of the tasks and the continued labor shortage in certain parts of Tohoku. Going forward, we will organize more volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.

There are still many people residing in temporary housing in Tohoku. With your generous contributions, HOT has been able to continue organizing cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku as a way of supporting the residents who lost their homes in the tsunami while they are waiting to move into new homes. These events encourage people to spend a bit of time outside of their small temporary living quarters and to socialize with others in their temporary community. In December, we held a Christmas themed cafe at which a HOT volunteer played Christmas and other nostalgic songs on the flute and HOT volunteers made and served yakisoba, sausages with tomatoes from Saito-san’s farm, corn soup, French toast, hot drinks and Christmas sweets. After lunch, HOT volunteers folded paper cranes with some of the residents. We delivered 1,000 folded cranes (senbazuru) made by temporary housing residents in Tohoku together with HOT volunteers to the Philippines Embassy in Tokyo to wish the survivors of last year’s devastating typhoon a quick recovery.

The December HOT volunteers also distributed a holiday pillow to each temporary housing unit as part of a collaborative project with some of our partners. One partner donated about 100 pillows which were decorated with Santa appliques by volunteers in Tokyo. Children residing in a children’s home in the Tokyo area wrapped the pillows, made Christmas ornaments and wrote message cards.  From start to finish, this holiday project involved over 100 volunteers.

In February, HOT volunteers helped shovel snow and held a Valentine’s themed cafe. We distributed 100 Valentine’s candy bags made by seven HOT volunteers in Tokyo and made and served yakisoba, sausages, corn soup, French toast and Valentine’s sweets.  A HOT volunteer played nostalgic songs on the keyboard. It was wonderful seeing smiles on the faces of the temporary housing residents and the volunteers on a cold winter Sunday afternoon in Tohoku. Thank you for making this possible with your generous donations. 

Going forward, we will hold more cafes and events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  We also will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house (which was built with the help of your generous donations), to clean local beaches so that people from the greater Sendai area will continue to visit the area and thereby support the local economy and to hold special events to encourage those who are still waiting to resume their lives in Ogatsu.

Thank you in advance for your continued support which touches the hearts of so many people in Tohoku.   

Helping winterize Saito-san
Helping winterize Saito-san's green house
Group shot from Christmas HOT Cafe
Group shot from Christmas HOT Cafe
Residents at temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
Residents at temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho
Valenetine
Valenetine's goodie bags & 1000 folded cranes
Feb 19, 2014

Gouta's Story: Ishinomaki 2.0

Gouta (right) with a Fellow
Gouta (right) with a Fellow

Before 3.11, Gouta Matsumura, the president of ISHINOMAKI 2.0, used to support communities in the coastal city of Ishinomaki. The earthquakes and tsunami on March 11th severely affected  his office, which was situated nearby a river, causing flooding on the ground floor and demolition of nearly the half of the building. In the beginning of the disaster recovery, he was working hard to clean mud and rubles. Gradually, more and more people, including volunteer staff from less affected regions, also joined the cleaning.

This was how ISHINOMAKI 2.0 started as an established organization that aims to involve both the locals and volunteers in community re-building in Ishinomaki. Declaring a mission of making Ishinomaki a city of openness and creativity, the organization has actively developed a variety of activities, such as publishing free magazines, organizing events, providing spaces for community activities, broadcasting radio programs, and running an affordable accommodation. Two staff members newly joined the organization in April, 2013, and since then, they have contributed to accelerating the organizational development.

Gouta hopes that, towards 2017, ISHINOMAKI 2.0 will catalyze more bottom-up initiatives for the town of Ishinomaki, which will hopefully boost communication between the locals and non-locals within the community.

Links:

Mar 10, 2014

Double your donations today to support more families like Kazuo and Masako!

Kazuo & Masako "Thank you for helping my farm"
Kazuo & Masako "Thank you for helping my farm"

Today, we'd like to share a story out of many lives you have changed - through supporting our project.

Kazuo and Masako's story

Kazuo and Masako Saito are paprika farmers in Yamamoto-cho, Miyagi-ken. All they remember of the hours that followed the March 11th earthquake were the aftershocks, the bitter cold, and the constant fear that ensued. After evacuating his family to a safe area, Kazuo dedicated himself to help locate survivors in the Kasano-ku area, where he serves as a local leader. 

Like many in their community, the family lost everything they owned to the tsunami. Their home and farm, located 100m from the coastline, were completely washed away. They also lost all their machinery, which is detrimental for a farmer. Although they managed to rent damaged fields from a friend, the work that laid ahead for Kazuo and Masako was daunting, especially with no machinery.

But in July 2011, a local volunteer organization introduced them to Hands On Tokyo (HOT). HOT volunteers helped them plow their fields, construct green houses, and to plant, grow and harvest their paprika.

Today, the Saito family lives in three separate temporary housing units. They long for the day when the entire family can all live under the same roof again. And they still need help to get back on their feet. In addition to purchasing new machines, they need to secure direct sales outlets to sell their produce. HOT will continue to provide assistance to the Saito's, as well as to other farmers in the community.

In honor of the 3rd anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, GlobalGiving is hosting a matching campaign for recovery projects in the Tohoku area. Starting today, your donations will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving until matching funds last. To donate, click on "give now" button below.  

Thank you for supporting this project, and for helping to tranform the lives of people like Kazuo and Masako!

Photo: "I am thankful for helping my farm - Arigato"
Taken on February 8, 2014, by HOT volunteers who provided assistance to the Saito's during a snow storm.

Mar 10, 2014

Double your donations today to support Masayuki's health care delivery in Tohoku!

Masayuki, helping local health care from air
Masayuki, helping local health care from air

Today, we'd like to share a story out of many lives you have changed - through supporting our project.

Masayuki's Story

Masayuki Takahashi is a helicopter pilot. After Civic Force was established in 2009, it entered into pre-agreements and partnerships with potential collaborators in preparation for the next large scale disaster. Masayuki was one of the chosen partners Civic Force contacted, hoping to ensure transportation means for emergency relief delivery in case a large scale natural disaster strikes. After 11th March 2011, he engaged in volunteer work by utilizing his helicopter to provide relief supplies for the victims of the disaster with Civic Force. Afterwards he established an organization called All Round Helicopter aiming to support the local health-care system in the area. Local people have been worried about the lack of medical facilities since 2011, so Masayuki and his team decided to put all their efforts behind All Round Helicopter’s activities. Masayuki has received many messages of support and encouragement since establishing the organization.

Masayuki hopes that the survivors can also receive equal health-care service. He and his organization are thankful for any financial support that would contribute to the sustainability of his project.

Masayuki - "I am thankful for being given the chance to support the local health-care system in the affected areas"

In honor of the 3rd anniversary of East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, GlobalGiving is hosting a matching campaign for projects that work for recovery in Tohoku area.  Starting today, your donations will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving until matchign funds last.  To donate, click on "give now" button below.  

Thank you for your support for this project, and thank you for supporting what Masayuki does where the help is needed!

Feb 11, 2014

Fellow's Story: Healthcare Support for Local People

local people come to their class for exercise
local people come to their class for exercise

Ishinomaki city, Miyagi prefecture was enormously damaged by the earthquake on March 11, 2011. Tsunami destroyed almost all area of the center of Ishinomaki city except uplands. Out of a population of 160,000, about 4,000 people were killed or went missing. About 25,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed.

In 2013, Mr. Daigo Hashimoto, who had worked in Ishinomaki as a Fellow, launched “Local Health Support Project” in the north area of Isninomaki city, where the population aging rate approaches to 30%. This project aims to promote better health of local people. He came to Tohoku in May 2011 as a Fellow. Utilizing his expertise as a physical therapist, he supported rehabilitation program in temporary housings, while coordinating volunteers. After his working period as a Fellow, he decided to stay at Ishinomaki city in order to launch the new project. ETIC supported him through our incubation program in Tohoku.

In “Local Health Support Project”, they provide day service to elderly people. They also developed fitness program for rehabilitation to prevent elderly people to fall sick and rely on the nursing-care insurance support. Six months have passed since the launch on May 2013, and now about 40 people aged among 40s to 90s use their services.

They also hold exchange events with local users, and help to establish network among local experts of medical and nursing care fields. They plan to involve local inhabitants as health supporters and to construct environment for local inhabitants to take care of their health by themselves.

“There are many aging areas and depopulation areas across Japan. I want to expand our model to other areas” Mr. Hashimoto says. 

Also provide opportunities to interact with others
Also provide opportunities to interact with others
Jan 23, 2014

Struggling Hard to Attract Visitors from Outside

the Goddess of Mercy by Bamboo Light Up
the Goddess of Mercy by Bamboo Light Up

One key question I ask when I visit Isatomae, Minami-sanrikucho, every three months is whether a plan for reconstruction has been finalized. According to the Isatomae Shoko Kai (Isatomae Chamber of Commerce = ICC), it seems that the plan is very much finalized, but what I heard this time was also a little bit different from the previous plan I heard three months ago. The height of the dike will be 8.70 meters high, which was the same as before, while the height of raised land for shops changed from 5 meters to 7 meters, which enables residents to see the ocean with footsteps. They are hoping to see the completion of land raising by the end of 2015, but they sounded quite uncertain. Whenever I ask a question, “When will the construction of shops be completed?” They just cannot tell even when the land raising will be completed, needless to say about the completion of their shopping complex. They were very lively to tell about their shopping- complex plan, but when I ask about the completion date, their faces looked dark, showing their fatigue and a situation where they still do not see the end of the tunnel. They are quite tired, though they have a lot of issues to be decided. For example, one big issue presently is whether the shopping complex will take a corporate form or an association form. Some residents are even refusing to allow their land raised by the government, and the ICC even has to convince them to go along with a new plan.

One fortunate factor of the Isatomae community is that it has a 260-year-old “Contract Association (Keiyaku Kai)” consisted of about 80 households, and owns a large piece of land in the mountain as commons. Its history is so old that they never thought it to be useful. But a new residential housing complex will be built on this land, making their cost of land acquisition for their houses much cheaper. It is reported that the town purchases 1 m2 of destroyed land for \10,000, while a newly developed land in the mountain will cost about \12,000 to \18,000. Those who are a member of the Contract Association can reduce the cost of land acquisition, though they still have to pay for building houses. Many residents may simply choose renting public apartments instead of building a new house due to financial reasons.

Despite a small population size of 4,500 residents, in the past, ocean views, good ocean food, and country-side living in Isatomae attracted tourists. Now, everything is completely new, not different from big cities, and ocean views are blocked by the dike. Can they succeed to attract visitors? At this moment, with limited resources, they are doing their best to show the attractiveness of Isatomae by planning diverse events. They even added a playground for children. Naturally, since their attractiveness is ocean food, such as urchin, scallop, abalone, octopus, crab, sea weed, etc., they are planning to have festivals at the peak periods of these catches. Ezo scallop raised at Isatomae was offered to the imperial household for celebrating the Coronation of the Showa Emperor in 1928. They are even bringing out such an old historical fact to attract outside visitors.

Such attractiveness is not different from other communities in the Pacific-Ocean coastal area. To differentiate the Isatomae, they are developing their unique activities. Now in January 2014, the ICC borrowed 280 bamboo sticks from the Miike Light Bamboo Festival Committee in Fukuoka Prefecture, and are showing beautiful candle-light art works at night in the Temporary Shopping Arcade (see attached pictures). In the past, they succeeded to receive supports from all professional soccer teams in Japan and obtained their flags. They applied for a Guinness Record as one place having the largest number of soccer team flags. Unfortunately, it was not recognized as a record. Now, in June they are trying to have a public viewing of the World Soccer Game with diverse supports from these Japanese soccer teams. Naturally, they plan to have summer festivals, summer fireworks, and locally particular festival called “Donto Festival” held in diverse places in Miyagi Prefecture.

Despite financial and resource limitations, they are trying to make use of any chance for making the Isatomae Community known to outside. Given a small population of Isatomae, they believe that attracting outside visitors is the only way for them to survive and redevelop their community. Since a small community like Isatomae is rather difficult to obtain supports, they are still in disparate needs of continuous financial supports. Although they are quite tired and still do not see the end of tunnel at all, they are solely relying on their strong motivation and spirit to keep the community alive and going. 

Mr. Fuji by Bamboo Light Up
Mr. Fuji by Bamboo Light Up
Newly Added Playground
Newly Added Playground
Soccer Team Flags of the Temporary Shopping Place
Soccer Team Flags of the Temporary Shopping Place

Links:

Jan 16, 2014

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: January 2014

Happy New Year!

We excitedly welcome 2014, the year of the horse!

Cold temperatures fill Japan, and snow has begun to cover the northern landscapes. 2013 was a busy year; we completed the Maeami-hama Community House, Kitakami Market and Youth Center, the Yamayo Suisan and at MakiBiz we held a number of business seminars open to the public and helped many clients through business consultations. We currently have 5 projects under construction plus one more beginning shortly.

In this update:

We look forward to continuing our efforts in supporting Tohoku communities in 2014!

 

Best,
Architecture for Humanity


UPDATES

Yamayo SuisanMakiBiz Request for Proposal Program

The MakiBiz Request for Proposal (RFP) program is supporting the rebuilding of 7 small businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

With 4 projects under construction, one more to begin at the end of the month, and 2 already completed we are steadily building momentum. See this update for a summary on where each of the projects stand.

 
We will begin supporting two additional projects this Spring. Look forward to updates to come!


Building nearing completion

The building is now 90% complete! Most of the lighting, plumbing and paint work is done, all that remains is the deck on the first floor, which will be installed in two weeks. Construction work will now focus on the field where netting has already been installed, and drainage will be installed this week.

Look forward to completion of this project soon!



MakiBiz has supported 144 business owners since its office opened in November 2012. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.





Architecture for Humanity represented at AIA Japan Annual Event

In November, senior design fellow Aki presented at an annual AIA Japan event held at Daikanyama Hillside Terrace in Tokyo. Here he presented our work, mainly focusing on an overview of our reconstruction and rebuilding efforts worldwide and in Japan. Read more about this event.


EVENTS
Embracing Change: Building Resilience with Communities 
Embracing Change: Building Resilience with Communities

On January 15 and 16, Keio University's International Program for Environmental Innovators (EI) will host their 4th International EI symposium at their Hiyoshi Campus in Yokohama. Organized and led in part by Architecture for Humanity Tokyo Chapter leaders, the event will bring together actors and pioneers carrying out projects directed at building resiliency around the world. The discussions are aimed at inspiring new ideas for how to deal with massive changes, such as climate change, disaster response, social issues and economic transformation.

Reconstruction and Resiliency Studio Director Eric Cesal will be speaking about what the developing world may be able to teach the first world about building resilient communities. Learn more about the event and how to register here!



JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND PROGRAM NEEDS

TOHOKU PROJECT STATUS REPORT

In Progress

Completed

CA Construction Administration; CD Construction Documents; DD Design Development; SD Schematic Design; PD Pre-Design - About the Phases

Jan 10, 2014

Amazing accomplishments of the two grantees from the Fund!

A handshake at an event in Soma City - AAR Japan
A handshake at an event in Soma City - AAR Japan

As we welcome the new year, we have exciting updates from two of our partners that received grants from GlobalGiving’s Tsunami and Earthquake Relief!  

Association for Aid and Relief Japan (awarded $500,000)

Since 3.11, AAR Japan has continuously been providing support for people with disabilities in Fukushima.  AAR Japan set up many facilities where they provide working opportunities for persons with disabilities.  Some of the funds contributed to repairing and reconstructing these facilities, so that workers can work comfortably.

Another major focus for AAR Japan has been to create an environment to maintain mental and physical health of the people living in temporary housing complexes and subsidized housing.  They have organized social events for towns and communities, and overnight field trips for children.  As days that the evacuees spend in the temporary housing complexes become longer, it is important to reduce the stress among the communities.  Creating an opportunity where people can bond will help the community grow bigger and stronger.

With the funds you helped provide, AAR Japan also installed playground equipment and delivered bottled water to nurseries and kindergartens in Fukushima.  For more updates, learn from here!

ETIC. (awarded $500,000)

Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC.) is an organization that sends young aspiring leaders to Tohoku, where they can help the local leaders to grow their business or organizations.  As of June 2013, they selected and sent 157 fellows to work in Tohoku.  

Fellows are recruited through an online website, and ETIC. received 454 applications to date.  After the Fellows are selected, they go through an intensive training process, and later they are sent to projects where the Fellows are matched based on their past experiences and skills.

Fellows are placed in various locations throughout Tohoku.  For example, Akane is placed in Kesennuma, where she manages the logistics for a regional energy development project.  Shiro is located in Onagawa, where he helps to revitalize local businesses like hotels through his past experiences of sales and marketing.  Yuya is managing the tourism projects in the city of Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture.  Fellows’ work have been widely popular among the local communities, and the demands for their work are increasing in Tohoku.

ETIC.’s work is widely popular in Tohoku, and they plan on continuing this program for the coming years.  Responding to the needs from the local community, they are expanding their plan from “200 Fellows in 3 years” to “300 fellows in 5 years.”  They are also planning on focusing on “innovative” projects that can be expandable to other areas, to revitalize Tohoku local businesses and communities.  To read more about their updates in the future, learn from here!

We’d like to thank you again for your overwhelming support for the past two years and 10 months.  Although there is less news coverage about the aftermath of earthquake and tsunami, there are still people who struggle every day to recover what they had before 3.11.  GlobalGiving is committed to supporting long-term recovery of the Tohoku area, and we are thankful that you are too.


Bananas are their favorite! - AAR Japan
Bananas are their favorite! - AAR Japan
Our Britt Lake visits the project site - AAR Japan
Our Britt Lake visits the project site - AAR Japan
Fellows with the community at Iwaki - ETIC.
Fellows with the community at Iwaki - ETIC.
Fellows and community at Rikuzen Takata - ETIC.
Fellows and community at Rikuzen Takata - ETIC.
A Workshop in Kesennuma - ETIC.
A Workshop in Kesennuma - ETIC.
Jan 7, 2014

Update on AMDA's International Scholarship Program

Dear Global Giving Donors,

First of all, I would like to wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! 

I would also like to thank you for your continued support on AMDA's project in Tohoku, Japan. Your support has made many young people go forward despite the hardship, and we are very grateful for you.

One student who is receiving our scholarship noted that the tsunami has taken away their father and grandparents almost three years ago. She and her siblings rely on their relatives to live. Through her past experience in taking care of the sick grandfather, she has set her goal in becoming a care worker, despite the financial difficulties she is currently facing.

For more stories from the scholarship recepient students, please see the attached report.

We thank you for your continued support.


Attachments:
Dec 26, 2013

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

Learn, how to make mother shells to raise oysters.
Learn, how to make mother shells to raise oysters.

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during October, November & December, 2013.

 

Community Building in Ishinomaki

 

[Children Learn Fishing]

 

JEN has been assisting efforts to care for emotional and spiritual needs of children. On October 20, JEN hosted "Furusato Kodomo College in Tanigawahama", an event to offer children in Ishinomaki an opportunity of experiencing fishery. Corporate volunteers and the fishermen from Tanigawahama Fisheries Cooperatives volunteered to help JEN.

Since the disaster, children have had fewer chances to go to the sea due to the traumatic experience of the disaster and evacuation life that forces them to live away from the sea. This event therefore is about getting the bearers of Ishinomaki's future to know Ishinomaki's good things and love Ishinomaki much more through hands-on experience.

On that day children experienced fishing, making mother shells to raise oysters and clearing scallop shells of substances sticking to the front of the shells along with the fishermen.

 

The fishermen who accepted the children looked very happy because the children's cheers filled Tanigawahama where the number of children has decreased.

 

 

[Imoni Party Help Sustain Community]

 

JEN is committed to helping develop mutual supportive relationships and self-sustaining communities by assisting activities that serves that purpose such as traditional customs.

In many parts of the Tohoku region from October to November, there is a custom of enjoying "imoni party" at outdoors such as river banks. Different from area to area as seasonings and gradients are, enjoying over a hot pot featuring taro is called "imoni party". The party usually takes place as an event to socialize with friends or people at work, making Tohoku's people feel that autumn would not be autumn without it as well as hanami party in spring.

On October 27, JEN helped the community association of the evacuees living in Nukaduka temporary housing complex host an imoni party. Not only joined the evacuees but people outside including those living in the neighborhood of the temporary housing and in other temporary housing complex, deepening ties among them.

 

A neighbor brought the evacuees some persimmons from his garden for present using a forklift truck. You can bet that continued efforts to develop people-to-people links such as hosting imoni party could establish mutual supportive relationships.

 

[Lantern Vigil to Commemorate 3,266 Victims]

 With December 5, 2013 at 14:46 marking 1,000 days since the disaster broke out, citizen volunteers hosted "the Great Tohoku Earthquake Lantern Vigil to Commemorate the Anniversary of 1,000 Days." Many people gathered for the prayer vigil from all around the city of Ishinomaki.

This ceremony was run by a planning committee organized by citizens and some 70 volunteers. It's intended to commemorate victims together and determine to move forward together as we were kept alive and allowed to stay live.

First-year art club members at Ishinomaki High School developed the design of lantern layout in the shape of wave rings centering 3/11-shaped lanterns so that the people in Ishinomaki may pay more attention rather than 3/11 to the present and then the future just like wave rings ripple around

 

The chair of the planning committee said "We are going to host the ceremony at each junction to pray for those who were killed and to provide an opportunity of sharing the determination to restore Ishinomaki."

 

 

[The 4th "Come to Join Fishing Event"]

 

JEN continues supporting an event that invites people from across the country to come and enjoy the nature and fresh food of the Oshika peninsula so that disaster areas can boost their self-help efforts toward recovery.

Higashihama planning committee held the fourth "Come to Join Fishery Event" at Sudachihama on the Oshika Peninsula on December 1 with help from JEN.

Now that it was an oyster season, a lot of plans unique to the oyster season were worked out including touring oyster farms; experiencing oyster shelling; exchanging with oyster fishermen in Higashihama; feasting on all-oyster dishes.

Oysters are usually farmed for two years until they are ready to ship; in inshore farms with hardly waves during the first year and for the second year in offshore farms with restless waves. The participants visited both farms and hauled ropes of two-year-old oysters, harvesting large oysters.

After harvesting oysters, the participants experienced shelling oysters with the guidance of the people in Higashihama. We usually eat already-shelled oysters available at stores and so the participants seemed to have difficulties in the first-time experience of their shelling oysters. They were much surprised to hear that fishermen can shell 3-5 oysters per second.

 

By the time they finished shelling oysters, mothers in Higashihama had already prepared lunch, waiting for them to sit at the lunch table. The lunch was abundant in variety such as grilled oysters, rice assorted with blue mussels, miso soup with oysters and laver, fried oysters as well as steamed oysters or an hot pot of oysters using oysters shelled by the participants, proving to be luxurious all-oyster dishes.

 

 

The day went by surprisingly fast; before the participants say good-bye, each participant expressed their thanks or feedbacks to the people in Higashihama.

The Higahsihama planning committee intends to continue with a series of this event. So does JEN.

Children being taught by fishermen.
Children being taught by fishermen.
JEN supported evacuees to hold an imoni party.
JEN supported evacuees to hold an imoni party.
Two-year-old oysters were hauled, finally!!!
Two-year-old oysters were hauled, finally!!!
Wonderful local oyster dishes were served!
Wonderful local oyster dishes were served!
3,266 lanterns, rippling around to the future
3,266 lanterns, rippling around to the future

Links:

Dec 13, 2013

Monthly Report vol.32

A Message from Disaster

Two years and eight months have passed since Civic Force started activities to support reconstruction in the disaster-hit areas of northeastern Japan. This section showcases the people who live in theaffected areas and continue positive efforts towards recovery. For this issue, we interviewed Mr.Masayuki Sakai, president of Kesennuma Fukko Inc., whose company takes care of the administrativework of temporary housings in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture.

In September, 2011, after the disaster, I established Kesennuma Fukko Inc. and have been operating variety of businesses such as, reception and distribution of reliefgoods, maintenance of temporary housings, providing services for temporary housing residents, and sales of temporary housings.

Before the disaster, I was a board member of the Chamber of Commerce andIndustry while running a dry cleaners shop in Kesennuma City. For a few months after the disaster, I was engaged in the management of an evacuation center in Kesennuma City where I received and distributed relief goods from members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and acquaintances all over the country. I worked to meet the needs of those taking shelter at places with lesser help byreceiving information gathered through local relationships. Later, I set up Kesennuma Fukko Inc. by request from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc. to change the situation of Kesennuma City where reconstruction was not progressing as expected.

One of the roles of our company is to connect the supports that are offered to the disaster-affected areas. Since the disaster, I have continued activities only capable by a local person who knows Kesennuma City from old times, as I saw cases in which appropriate aids were not offered due to lacking knowledge of the area. Now my focus is on“Rental-bin” , a service in which users can rent trucks with a driver on a pay-by-the-hour system. While the needs for maintenance work on temporary housings are decreasing, the needs for moving out from temporary housings will increase going forward. I hope to expand our business irrespective of scope of services and create employment.

 

If you need further information, please find attachment.


Attachments:
Dec 13, 2013

Monthly Report vol.31

A Message from Disaster

Two years and seven months have passed since Civic Force started activities to support reconstruction indisaster-hit areas of northeastern Japan. This section showcases the people who live in the affected areas andcontinue positive efforts towards recovery. As the 8th person, we interviewed Mr. Hisao Murakami, the owner of“Rakusho” , a Japanese-style pub called “izakaya” , in Sendai city.

Rikuzen-haranomachi Station is the third stop from Sendai Station on theSenseki railway line and after walking 30 seconds, you’ ll reach “Rakusho” , theizakaya I run. My hometown is Kesennuma city, so I offer local food of the Kesennuma region. Some of my customers are from Kesennuma city. When the disaster occurred, the inside of my shop became a mess because of the strongearthquake. But my main concern was my friends in my hometown who were affected by the tsunami. So for two months after the disaster, I kept my izakaya closed todeliver goods and prepare meals while traveling back and forth between Sendai and Kesennuma.

Thanks to the network of my former teammates from the Morioka Chuo HighSchool baseball team, many people including professional baseball players of Rakuten Rakuten Eagles visited to cheer us up. I was also engaged in activities such as holding baseball lessons by professional baseball players and inviting residents of temporary housings to baseball games. Because of the disaster, I gained new acquaintances who came to support us from all over the country including Shizuoka prefecture. While I wished to respond to their warm feelings, there were moments when I also felt people are becoming disconnected from each other due to the disaster.

The recommendations at my izakaya are fresh seafood, Kesennuma-style barbecued pork offal, and local foodsuch as “azara” . I want this shop to be a place where people gather to have a cheerful time and feel positive. Iam hoping to open an izakaya in Kesennuma city as well.


If you need further information, please find attachment and our hompage(www.civic-force.org)


Attachments:
Dec 13, 2013

Monthly Report vol.30

A massage from Disaster Areas

Two and a half years have passed since the March 11 earthquake. This section showcases the efforts towards recovery by the people living in the affected areas. For this round, we feature Mr. and Mrs. Kikuchi, who run“Tairyo-Maru” (roughly translated as the “good catch boat” ) at the Fukko Yatai Mura, Kesennuma Yokocho, a“temporary mall” for reconstruction in KesennumaCity. The food stall serves traditional fishermen s fare.

We used to run a horumonyaki (barbecued beef and pork offal) restaurant inKesennuma City, before it was washed away by the tsunami. When we were thinking of starting all over again, we happened to find out about the plan for the “temporary mall’ village.” So we started “Tairyo-Maru” in November 2011 along with the opening of the village.

With Masao’ s 30 years of experience working as a chief on a deep sea tuna fishingboat, we serve traditional fishermen’ s fare made with fresh tuna and bonito at ourfood stall. One of our signature dishes, the hoseki-don or “gemstones rice bowl”consists of a rice bowl topped with salmon roe, sea urchin, and fresh shrimp andcosts 3,000 yen each. Some might think it is too expensive a dish to be served at amakeshift food stall, but many customers are satisfied when they tried our dish. We use local ingredients and never compromise on taste. We also providelocal sake, which goes well with our dishes.

Many volunteers from across the nation come to Kesennuma City and drop by our stall. Some people sent us lettersand called us, even after they had left Kesennuma City.

We have to close our stall by the end of November because the period of operations for this mall will end then. Iwant to continue this business for the sake of those who have come and grew to like Kesennuma and our food stall.

We have a dream of starting a guest house in my hometown island of Oshima off the coast of Kesennuma. Likeeveryone else, we need to think about our future. We may not know what the future holds but we will move forward enthusiastically.


Attachments:
Dec 12, 2013

Monthly Report vol.29

Support Required for Child Quake Victims

Two years and five months have passed since the March 11 GreatEast Japan Earthquake. The damage by this unprecedented disasterwas enormous. More than 15,000 people were killed and an estimated290,000 or more are still unable to return to their homes and are put up in temporary housing set up by the government, existing private and public housing, evacuation centres or are living with friends orrelatives. (Source: Reconstruction Agency website)

One of the biggest concerns in the affected areas is the impact ofprolonged life in refuge on children, our bearers of hope for thefuture. Due to the earthquake, many children find it difficult to continue their studies as the finances of their families came understrain: The breadwinners of their families may have died, gonemissing, become injured or ill, or lost their jobs from the disaster.Many families also suffered financial losses from the destruction oftheir homes – Some houses collapsed, were burnt down, or were damaged by the floods. Aside from the decline in their academic achievements, children also suffer from mental and emotional stress.

On the other hand, those children’ s parents are always on edge– Some are overwhelmed with worries about the future, some became sensitive to noises while some are depressed. These problems inevitably affect the children.

According to the 2012 data released by the Ministry of Health,Labour and Welfare, cases of child abuse were on the rise in the disaster areas. To stop the vicious cycle of suffering, more deliberate support is necessary to help tackle the individual problems faced by each victim.

As part of the Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Project ofCivic Force, the Dream Support Project was set up in March 2013to provide scholarships and educational programs for high schooland university students affected by the earthquake. As of July2013, 895 scholarships have been given out.

In the summer holiday season of July and August this year, an experiential learning program was organised for scholarship holders in cooperation with local NPOs which have been working with Civic Force in the north-eastern region of Japan. Through discussions with the local NPOs and youths of similar age, the program hopes to broaden the views of the participants and give them strength tolive life to the fullest.

This monthly Report features the three-day exchange program organised by the Japan Forest Biomass Network at the Tenohira niTaiyo no Ie, or House of Sunshine in Your Hand (in short House of Sunshine), a facility that supports children living the Fukushima area.

 

If you need further information, please find attachment and our homepage(www.civic-force.org).


Attachments:
Dec 11, 2013

Winter Update - Oysters and Port Lighting

Oyster Fishermen Behind the New Fence (Photo: PWJ)
Oyster Fishermen Behind the New Fence (Photo: PWJ)

Update from Minamisanriku

From our partners in Peace Winds Japan comes the heartening news that the wind-break fence Peace Winds America helped construct is built and doing its job admirably.  Earlier this year we heard from our partners that workers processing oysters – a job done in the cold Tohoku winter – required a fence to stay warm while they worked. The oyster fishermen and processers alike requested this facility be built to aid them as they continued on the path to economic recovery.

We are happy to report that the 45-meter fence is working as advertised and earning high marks from the fishing families in Minamisanriku.  One worker told us, “Thanks to the fence, when there is a strong windy day like today, we can work without any big obstacles! Thank you very much for your support!” We’d like to pass that message of thanks on to our donors and supporters, without whom none of this would be possible.

Next Steps and Future Projects

Peace Winds America remains committed to ongoing economic recovery for the fishing industry in Tohoku.  PWA is presently exploring a proposal to provide LED lighting for fishermen of the Utatsu fishing cooperative of Minamisanriku. Many of the ports have been rebuilt since the tsunami, but they are dark and unlit at night.  This presents difficulties for the fishermen, who worry about security and about having to work in the dark.  Working with Peace Winds Japan, PWA will help fund solar LEDs at several ports.  The solar panels on the lights will collect power during the day and keep the ports safe and brightly lit at night.

With the third anniversary of the tsunami in sight, PWA thanks our supporters again and reaffirms our commitment to the people of Tohoku.

At Work Processing the Oyster Catch
At Work Processing the Oyster Catch
Dec 4, 2013

How BCP Training is Helping Prepare Japanese NGOs for the Next Disaster

Hiroyuki Kakuho (center)  from Japan Platform
Hiroyuki Kakuho (center) from Japan Platform

After Japanese Scientists at Tokyo University and Global Seismologists predicted a 70% chance of a 7+ Richter-scale earthquake hitting Japan by 2016, the majority of Japanese non-government organizations realized that ensuring their organizations integrity when they are hit by a disaster is critical to being able to deliver relief to local populations. In response to this realization, International Medical Corps began working with seasoned business continuity planning (BCP) experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.), and have successfully completed a three-part workshop series that taught local humanitarian aid organizations the fundamentals of business continuity planning.

Through a combination of lectures and hands-on practical exercises that took participating non-government organizations (NGOs) through a simulated disaster; potential risks were identified (e.g., closed roads, power outages, etc.); the specific tasks staff members must complete to ensure that they are functional and able to fulfill their mandate after the disaster were established; people were assigned responsible for each task; and special strategies that must be used as part of the planning process were decided upon.

Participants then developed a list of action items, including timeframes, to ensure the implementation of their plan was realistic and carried out in a timely manner. At the end of the series, each NGO was able to create a simple, practical BCP plan that fits its organizational needs. A total of 25 individuals from 17 organizations completed this course. For those organizations requesting additional assistance, BCP experts also provided feedback to the organization’s BCP draft and offered suggestions/advice for improvement.

The response from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few examples of the feedback we received:

Hiroyuki Kakuho, Administrative Manager for Japan Platform (JPF):

“JPF is known as an emergency response organization. It is vital that we are able to function during an emergency. Clearly identifying what we need to do to be ready in a time of crisis and making appropriate preparations has always been a core issue, but we had been unable to really work on any concrete plans with everyone being busy with their own day-to-day work. We also didn’t know where to begin to better prepare ourselves. This BCP workshop was very important in teaching our staff specific techniques on how to think through and create a BCP plan that fits our organization’s needs. Since we were getting trained with other NGOs, we also benefited from sharing our concerns, ideas and experiences with each other, which allowed us to gain hints as to how to create a more realistic plan of action.”

“We found the BCP creation process outlined by the experts very thorough and with a logical flow. We were surprised at how the workshops spent a lot of time on practical exercises. It was also great that the assignments we received between workshops helped focus our discussions and prepared us for the next lessons. We also appreciated how there was ample time between the three workshops so that we had some time to go back to our organization and think through various issues. We were able to share the BCP learning process with our other colleagues and discuss what should go into our BCP plan.”

“We are currently updating our simple BCP based on what we learned at this workshop series. We are looking forward to more of the same kind of practical workshops from International Medical Corps that will build our capacity and help us to more effectively do our work.”

Japan Platform (JPF) is an international emergency humanitarian aid organization made up of 44 member NGOs, the majority of which do emergency humanitarian aid throughout the world. JPF conducts aid through a tripartite cooperation system, where NGOs, business community, and government of Japan work in close cooperation, based on equal partnership. 

 

Masayuki Okada, Administrative Manager for Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan:

“AAR Japan has been concerned about how we would respond if a natural disaster should strike our own headquarters in the greater Tokyo area, a likelihood we know all too well could happen in the future.  When we heard about this opportunity to learn about BCP directly from BCP experts, we thought this would be a great chance to brush up on our organization’s BCP approach.”

“Two staff members from AAR Japan including myself participated in these workshops. We learned many specific techniques such as how to calculate the number of staff that would likely be able to come to the office if transportation routes were closed and how to identify priority tasks for our operations during an emergency as opposed to normal times. We also realized that we faced serious issues if the building in which our office is located becomes inaccessible, such as losing the ability to access any of the data we have stored on our server or any workspace our staff would need to carry out their tasks even if they could make it to the office. Thanks to these lessons, we are now creating a backup plan for saving our data and are considering moving our office to a newer building with more advanced earthquake resistance.”

“This workshop even included a review of AAR Japan’s BCP plan by the experts, something we would have had great difficulty getting on our own. Japanese NGOs in general have a great budget limitation, and so getting expert advice is extremely difficult.”

“Based on what we learned, AAR Japan has already started to improve upon a number of measures we already had in place, such as our procedures to check on the safety of our staff and measures to better utilize our satellite phones to ensure communication in case both landlines and mobile phone lines crash during an emergency. We plan on reviewing our BC plan on a regular basis within our organization and make sure that our staff are aware of what is in the BC plan. We hope to run simulations with staff to test how the BCP plan would work. We ask for International Medical Corps and the BCP experts to continue to support our efforts to prepare ourselves for emergencies.”

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) is a NGO focusing on emergency assistance, assistance to persons with disabilities, and Mine/UXO action. AAR Japan initiated Tohoku aid and relief activities one day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and they have been engaged in emergency and recovery assistance in the affected areas ever since.


Kazutaka Ueda, Senior Program Manager for SEEDS Asia:

“SEEDS Asia was only created in 2006 and so is still a young NGO. Until 3 years ago, we only had 5 staff members. During these last years we’ve expanded our projects and now have 3 branch offices. It was perfect timing for us when we learned about International Medical Corps’ BCP training, because within our organization we were recently discussing the need to have a continuity plan in the case of an emergency like a natural disaster. We jumped at the chance to participate and traveled the over 500km from Kobe to Tokyo for the workshops.”

“What drew us to this workshop was the fact that it wasn’t just a lecture but a workshop that would actually result in creating a BCP. Like most small NGOs in Japan, we are extremely limited in human and financial resources, and we hadn’t had the time to spend making a BC plan on our own. If we hadn’t participated in a workshop like this that let us put words on paper (i.e., a written BCP), we would probably have never been able to create our own BCP.  In addition, it was important that we shared the BCP process with our staff so we are all on the same page about how we should respond in case of an emergency.”

“It was wonderful to be able to ask questions and receive advice from BCP experts specific to our organization’s needs. Being able to have this one-on-one advice increased the practicality of our BC plan and helped us think more deeply about what we can do to be operationally functioning when disaster strikes at our own doorstep.”

SEEDS Asia has been conducting activities in Asia Pacific region related to development, environmental management and community-based Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). In Kesennuma City, SEEDS Asia has been assisting community building at temporary housing sites, organizing meetings for leaders of temporary housing sites, conducting DRR education/Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). 



Hiroyuki Okada (far right) from AAR
Hiroyuki Okada (far right) from AAR
Dec 2, 2013

Thank You Very Much for Supporting Our Project 'Help Disabled and Elderly Disaster Survivors'!

A volunteer physiotherapist teaching exercise
A volunteer physiotherapist teaching exercise

Immediately after the 3.11 disaster, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) entered the disaster-stricken area and launched its emergency assistance. In order to respond to the ever-changing need of the affected people, our relief activities ranged from distribution of emergency relief supplies such as food and daily necessities to the long-term recovery support including psychological care to the survivors. Throughout these efforts, we have felt the strong need to focus on those who are prone to be left out, which evolved into this project ‘Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors’.

The project has carried out diverse activities in the past two and a half years throughout Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, we started our activities with locating Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly who failed to move to the evacuation center and had been out of the reach of any assistance. In the recovery phase, we restored the working and living environment for PWDs and elderly through reconstructing the devastated facilities, which enabled the facility users to live at ease and promoted their participation in the society. We also organized mobile clinic and active listening sessions to relieve the evacuee’s concern over mental and physical health. These are only a part of the activities conducted in the project, and we believe that these activities not only provided direct assistance but also delivered the message that ‘you are not forgotten, we care about you’. All these efforts were only possible with your generous and cordial understanding and support.

We continue carrying out the other two projects on GlobalGiving, ‘Support evacuees of Fukushima’ and ‘Building Healthy Communities for Recovery’. In the former, we provide support to evacuees in Fukushima Prefecture, whose life as evacuees is expected to be prolonged due to the influence of radiation problem caused by the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The latter, ‘Building Healthy Communities for Recovery’, focuses on promoting the mental and physical health of evacuees who have been living in the cramped temporary housing complexes for such a long period. For more details, please click the links below and we truly appreciate if you consider directing your support to any of these projects.

‘Support evacuees of Fukushima’

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-evacuees-of-fukushima/

‘Building Healthy Communities for Recovery’

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/building-healthy-communities-1/

 

For further information on our entire Tohoku operation, please see our annual activity report.

http://www.aarjapan.gr.jp/english/activity/japan/doc/201304_aarjapan_eqreport_eng.pdf

Again we would like to express our sincere gratitude for your warm and hearty support. The recovery of disaster stricken area will take further effort and time and we are determined to continue the assistance which most suits the need of those who have been affected.

Devastated social welfare facility
Devastated social welfare facility
Delivered daily necessities to PWDs
Delivered daily necessities to PWDs
Reconstructed the workshop facility for PWDs
Reconstructed the workshop facility for PWDs
A user of the reconstructed workshop facility
A user of the reconstructed workshop facility
A popular entertainer cheering up the evacuees
A popular entertainer cheering up the evacuees
Nov 22, 2013

5th Folk Music Concert Tour Held at Temporary Housing Complex in Fukushima Prefecture

Mr. Suzuki (singer, right) and the audience (left)
Mr. Suzuki (singer, right) and the audience (left)

From October 23rd to 25th, we held the fifth folk song concert tour at 11 venues in Koriyama City, Katsurao Village, Motomiya City and Nihonmatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture featuring the popular comedian Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA and the folk music team called ‘Minyo-jin’. Same as the previous tours, every venue was packed with the audience with excited and throbbing expression.

The concert started with the smooth lead of Mr. Nekohachi, who is famous for his performance of mimicking animals. Led by the dynamic intro of Shamisen (traditional Japanese string instrument), the singers’ powerful and penetrating voices pleasantly filled the venue. First, each performer sung his/her specialty, and then the performers took requests from the audience. Not only the Fukushima-originated folk songs such as ‘Aizu Bandaisan’ and ‘Soma Nagareyama’ thrilled the audience, the songs rooted in Tohoku area such as ‘Sado Okesa’ and ‘Tsugaru Aiya Bushi’ also moved some of the audience to tears since these songs invoked the memory of their family members. In the finale, ‘Soma Bon-uta’, one of the standard pieces among Fukushima people, was performed and the audience truly enjoyed clapping, swinging, singing along and dancing. The highlight of the concert was the part in which Mr. Nekohachi and Ms. Keiko CHIDA together performed four songs in which names of animals appear in lyrics. In the interval of the beautiful singing performance of Ms. CHIDA, Mr. Nekohachi mimicked the voice of animals such as cows and bush warblers comically but to the life, which filled the venue with roaring laughter. 

Here are some remarks we received from the audience. 

A lady who participated in the concert at Odagaisama Center on October 23rd

‘I stayed with my daughter, who lived outside Fukushima Prefecture for three months right after the earthquake before moving to this Miharu Temporary Housing Complex. I am getting used to the life here and I enjoy doing handicraft such as knitting with other residents. I had the knitting session today too, but I wrapped up earlier to get a good seat at the concert! Usually I am not that interested in concerts but if it is folk music, that is different. I laughed a lot for the first time in a long time. The winter here is much colder than Hamadori, where I used to live and the heat in summer is also tough, but I am getting used to and trying to cheer up.’ 

Ms. Konno, aged 63, participated in the concert at Takagi Temporary Housing Complex on October 25th

‘The concert was great! It all cleared the wretched feeling I had been feeling these days. The song I requested, ‘Kabenuri Jinku’, is the song of my memories. I should have brought my husband too.’ She was originally from Chiba Prefecture in Kanto area and moved to Namie Town when she got married. She told us that she enjoyed working on handicraft with the other residents in her free time and she also expressed her wish to let people all over Japan know how the residents were trying to move forward.

The audience laughing aloud
The audience laughing aloud
The audience requesting their favorite songs
The audience requesting their favorite songs
AAR staff member (right) interviewing the audience
AAR staff member (right) interviewing the audience
The audience clapping to the song
The audience clapping to the song
Group shot at Takagi Temporary Housing Complex
Group shot at Takagi Temporary Housing Complex
Nov 18, 2013

O-Link House, A Beacon of Hope for Ogatsu People

O-Link House surrounded by flowers
O-Link House surrounded by flowers

The Ogatsu landscape has further changed in recent months.  All building structures that remained in one form or another after the earthquake and tsunami have been torn down including the former town hall which served as a storage and work area over the past 2.5 years.  With the help of your generous donations, Hands on Tokyo (HOT) was able to build the first permanent structure in Ogatsu since March 11th – the new community center known as O-Link House.  HOT volunteers helped paint and did landscaping before O-Link House opened a few months ago. Surrounded by vast open spaces, this community center serves as a beacon of hope for the former residents of Ogatsu who still hope to return home someday.

In July we held a workshop at O-Link House for HOT volunteers to study the impact of our activities since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami and to consider how we can continue to support the Ogatsu area.  The next day we supported the “Sea Urchin Festival,” a very popular event in Ogatsu over many years.  This was the second such festival since March 11th and many former residents and visitors attended.  HOT volunteers helped O-Link House serve drinks, food and summer festival sweets.  It was very good seeing so many smiling faces in Ogatsu.

While delivering over 300 Halloween goodie bags to two elementary schools in the Ogatsu area, HOT volunteers recently paid a visit to O-Link House and were very happy to see how it is being used as a gallery for local artists, a place to train the next generation of inkstone carvers (an important traditional craft which was centered in Ogatsu prior to the tsunami) and a lovely café run by former Ogatsu residents serving delicious coffee, homemade cakes and chocolate and berry parfaits.  It is very important to have provided a means for former Ogatsu residents to earn a livelihood once again in Ogatsu.  Thank you for empowering them with such an opportunity through your generous donations.

With your continued support, on a going forward basis, we will continue to plan volunteer trips to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house, to clean local beaches so that people from the greater Sendai area will continue to visit the area and thereby support the local economy, to hold special events in Ogatsu to support and encourage those who are waiting to move back to Ogatsu and to support others in the Ogatsu area in their continued efforts to relaunch their former businesses or start new businesses.

Since our last report, HOT volunteers also continued to support a local farmer – Saito-san -- in Yamamoto-cho who needed assistance rebuilding one of his greenhouses and staking growing red and green pepper plants. He and his wife could not have done this without the support of volunteers given the nature of the tasks and the labor shortage in certain parts of Tohoku.

Going forward, we plan to organize more volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.

Thank you in advance for your continued support.

  Volulnteer serving drinks & sweets to locals
Volulnteer serving drinks & sweets to locals
Halloween goodie bags for school kids
Halloween goodie bags for school kids
Volunteers helping local farmers
Volunteers helping local farmers
Yummy looking menu of O-Link House Cafe
Yummy looking menu of O-Link House Cafe

Links:

Nov 5, 2013

Outdoor Adventures and bridging the Digital Divide

Thanks to your generous support, Mirai no Mori welcomed 86 at-risk children to summer camp this August. We held three camp sessions in Miyagi Prefecture, with each camp running four nights and five days. A new high of eleven children’s welfare facilities participated, with representatives from each of the three disaster-affected prefectures: Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate.

Each week, some of the most popular activities included stream walking and waterfall climbing, high ropes challenges, and the bonfire on the final night. We also had a great response to the activity stations that kids could explore in their free time. With the help of our international staff and volunteers, they could try their hand at everything from making ice cream to starting a fire without a match.

Along with outdoor adventure and nature experiences, another key element of Mirai no Mori camps is real-life English. These abused, neglected, and orphaned children are typically behind grade-level performance in most subjects. As they move into adulthood they are simply not equipped for a competitive job market. Using English to have a blast in the outdoors provides confidence and motivation they can carry back to school in the autumn.

According to camp director Jeff Jensen, “One of our veteran campers, a 14 year old boy, used English every chance he could - even with fellow campers - even though he was obviously a little embarrassed to. It was clear he was pretending to make fun on his own English to amuse his peers but you could see he enjoyed - and felt proud of himself for - interacting with the Mirai no Mori staff in English. This opened the way for other, less confident campers to try their English as well.”

Ever since our first camp just a few months after the 3/11 disaster, we’ve been clear that this is a multi-year program. Kids have the chance to return each year to continue their growth and discovery. Especially in our repeat campers, we are seeing abundant evidence of the benefits of this ongoing approach - benefits that last long after camp.

“The caretakers of one of our girls reported back to us after camp,” said camp manager Kozue Oka. “They had been struggling to get her to go to school, but after the camp, she was much more willing to go.” Another participant who stood out for Kozue was a high school boy who made an obvious effort to help first-time campers get involved and feel positive about the camp. “At the campfire on the last night, he stood up and gave a heart-warming closing speech, which was inspiring to not just the other campers but to us too.”

One inspiration he gave us was the determination to accelerate development of a Leader in Training (LIT) program. The LIT program will provide high school age campers like him with hands-on training aimed squarely at preparing them for life after they must leave the children’s welfare facilities at age 18. Participants will learn basic work skills, improve their English, and hone their leadership abilities. In following seasons they will even become paid camp staff, supplying them with a financial cushion and a strengthened resume when they begin living independently.

From now until next summer, Mirai no Mori will work to develop the LIT program and to evolve all other aspects of the camps. We will also be busy building and maintaining relationships with the children’s welfare homes, staying in touch with our campers via newsletters and visits, and of course raising funds so that we can keep the benefits coming to the kids.

We are overflowing with gratitude to the worldwide community that has supported and followed our work. Thank you so much. Please stay with us on this adventure of outdoor fun, learning, and hope.

We have also been researching how we can bridge the digital divide.

There are some children who are unfortunately deprived of the right to stand at the same start line when they enter society at 18. Only 9% of children in these homes in Japan go to college and about 1/3 of these children are academically at least two grade levels their peers. Our mission is to guarantee the same start line for all children in Japan irrespective of their background through access and the tools of technology. It is time we bridge the digital divide that currently disadvantages children living in these homes and develop the necessary 21st Century Skills (http://p21.org) to prepare them for a bright future.

The Digital Natives program is built on the philosophy that access to the Internet can be a viable tool for children to communicate, explore and learn. Simultaneously, the digital medium is fast becoming our go-to and primary source for accessing all kinds of essential services and information; job seeking, government programs, health information, etc. The skills required to access this information are indispensable.

The model is built on remote hosting utilizing cloud management backed by a high level of filtering and security by Amazon Web Services.  The #1 reason children do not have access to technology is the fear the children will access adult sites and excessive violence. Educating the staff at these homes of the level of security and safety therefore is one of our top priorities. An array of software programs will be hosted in the cloud to bridge the academic gap and to provide skills training to prepare these children for college and the workforce.  We are looking to feed imaginations, bolster self-confidence and improve overall motivation with these children.  

We look forward to collaborating on bridging this Digital Divide with your sponsors.

Oct 31, 2013

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: October 2013

Tohoku Newsletter Banner October 2013

September 22 marked the arrival of Fall. October is a great time to visit Japan, as temperatures have lowered but are still warm, and trees begin to change colors in the Northern regions and at higher elevations. We look forward to the full arrival of Fall.

Our office has been busy with our eight RFP projects moving along - one of which is already completed! A new workshop series at MakiBiz begins this month, and the Kamaishi Park for All project is also moving forward with construction almost ready to begin. Read more below.

We hope this month treats you well, as temperatures begin to lower!

Best, Architecture for Humanity


UPDATES
UPDATES 
Yamayo SuisanMakiBiz Request for Proposal Program
The MakiBiz Request for Proposal (RFP) program supports the rebuilding of small businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Winners were identified in early August, and have since been moving forward with their projects full steam. Read here to read about our eight winners!

 

Archtiect submitting the permit set
On August 24th, Toyo Ito Associates, Architects (TIAA) completed the drawings and submitted the permit set to the Kamaishi building department to receive their construction permit. Everything is set to move forward, and we are currently negotiating with contractors to begin construction in early-November.

MakiBiz has supported 120 business owners to date. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.



MakiBIz Signage InstalledMakiBiz Signage Installed!
MakiBiz finally has exterior signage installed, making us more visible within the community welcoming clients into our space! Designed by the Tokyo-based design team KBT (pronounced "Kabuto"), these flags officially announce our arrival in Ishinomaki. Find these flags in Ishinomaki and come say hello! See update here.

 
UPCOMING EVENTS 

UPCOMING EVENTS

MakiBiz Seminar Series: Business Psychology
MakiBiz Seminar Series: Business Psychology
A new round of seminars began at MakiBiz on October 11. This series of 4 seminars will be lead by NPO Iwate Mirai Kikoh, in the evenings at our MakiBiz office free of charge. The seminar will cover the topics of: Behavioral Psychology for Negotiation and Marketing; Communication methods; Color Psychology to Captivate People's Hearts; and Stress Check and Relaxation Methods in the Office Environment. See this flyer (in Japanese only) to sign up.


JOB OPPORTUNITIES & PROGRAM NEEDS

 

TOHOKU PROJECT STATUS REPORT

In Progress

Completed

CA Construction Administration / ; CD Construction Documents / ; DD Design Development / ; SD Schematic Design / ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases

Links:

Oct 25, 2013

Radiation Dosimeter Installed at Elle Shirakawa Wakuwaku Bread Factory, a Workshop Facility for PWDs

A set of radiation dosimeter installed
A set of radiation dosimeter installed

Concern over radiation exposure triggered by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is widely shared among the residents of Fukushima Prefecture. They live with constant fear of internal and external exposure to radiation. Consumers are careful about what they purchase and consume and at the same time, suppliers are required to take extra care in assuring the safety of what they produce. As a result, in Fukushima Prefecture more and more institutions that deal with food have chosen to have themselves equipped with radiation dosimeters for food items. Those who cannot afford purchasing the device have to go to public institutions to examine their products and ingredients they use, which put extra logistical burden on them. This is why AAR Japan has decided to provide radiation dosimeter to several workshop facilities for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) including Elle Shirakawa Wakuwaku Bread Factory as a part of its support to PWDs affected by the 3.11 disaster.

Elle Shirakawa Wakuwaku Bread Factory provides vocational training and working opportunities to PWDs, mainly those with intellectual disabilities. The facility users are engaged in baking and selling of bread as a part of their way of participation to the society. They produce as much as 20 kinds of bread that are sold at various places such as shopping center, supermarket and kiosks around Shirakawa Station in Shirakawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. In order to ensure the safety of their products, the bread factory had been procuring only ingredients that were labeled to have low level of radiation, since the facility was not capable of carrying out safety examination on its own. With the set of radiation dosimeter provided by AAR Japan in August 2013, the facility is now able to measure the radiation level of the ingredients they purchased and also of their own products, which enables them to guarantee the safety of what they produce. The neighboring households also bring in vegetables and fruits they purchase, instead of going far to examine the safety of food. Since the factory is planning to open a new facility for PWDs which deals with dried sweet potatoes next year, the radiation dosimeter installed will continue to be a useful device for the facility. 

Facility users baking bread
Facility users baking bread
Mr. Suganuma(right) representative of the facility
Mr. Suganuma(right) representative of the facility
Oct 21, 2013

Fellow's story: Kesennuma Smart City Project

Forest Academy to learn about forest industry
Forest Academy to learn about forest industry

Kesennuma city is one of the worst-hit places in the Japan’s quake disaster, extremely damaged by tsunami and widespread fire. Kesennuma city reported more than 1,000 of its 70,000 citizens were dead and the figure of damaged housings rose to at least 15,000.

In Kesennuma city, “Smart City Project” was launched through collaboration between the local government and local companies. The project aims to promote city-planning including energy system redesigning and community building.

Mr. Masaki Takahashi, a president of Kesennuma Regional Energy Development Co., has been working on a new challenge to promote and industrialize renewable energy system with utilization of woody biomass. With a concept of “For the city of Forest, Ocean and Mountain”, Mr. Takahashi established a project to create biomass fuels using woody pellet from local thinned wood as an energy source. Electronic power plant using local unutilized wood resources is an unprecedented attempt in Japan.

They started “Forest Academy”, including a training lecture of how to use a chain saw, has brought a connection between local forest owners and those who want to start forestry business. They also created a monetary unit of local currency “Reneria” in order to circulate the benefits of the forestry business within the local community. As of now, Reneria can be used in more than 180 shops in Kessennuma city.

Ms. Yuko Goto joined this project as a Fellow from May 2012 after 15 years of engagement as a system planner in a big enterprise in Tokyo. Utilizing an abundant experience of designing operation and system development from past carrier, she took charge of developing the supply system of woody biomass fuels. She played a critical role in executing questionnaire surveys, holding training lectures, making purchasing rule of thinned wood and managing monetary unit of local currency. As a result, about 70 people participated in the workshop and they could gather 600 tons of lumber, which was a lot more than they had expected.

She is still remaining in Kesennuma city and continues implementing the project after one year Fellowship period.

Forest Academy to learn about forest industry
Forest Academy to learn about forest industry
Oct 14, 2013

What have our new partners been up to in Japan?

Women volunteering at OISCA
Women volunteering at OISCA's project in Miyagi

In the last report, we shared with you a new exciting group of grantees from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.  Let us share what the new partners have been up to today!

Friends of El Sistema Japan (FESJ)

 We awarded Friends of El Sistema Japan (FESJ), an organization that provides musical education and opportunities for students in Fukushima, $100,000.  With those funds, FESJ invited instructors from Venezuela and inspired students like Marina.  Marina joined a summer orchestra class, and by the end, she led a 90-person orchestra as a violinist.  

Here is Marina's comment after the concert; "I've never had this kind of learning opportunity. Teachers from Venezuela were so helpful to making me understand how to solve the problems which I had encountered. I really feel I am better at playing violin than ever before. Well, I am surely different from what I used to be and I am now proud of myself…” For more updates from FESJ, click here to learn more!

On the Road

We awarded On the Road $100,000 to build a “Long Beach House” in Ishinomaki.  On the Road started to build a space for the community members to bond, and many commercial space including a guesthouse, where tourists and volunteers from outside the prefecture can stay cheaply.  We hope this facility will energize the local community!  For more updates from On the Road, learn from here.

OISCA International

Finally, we awarded OISCA International $150,000 for a reforestation project in Natori City located in Miyagi Prefecture. When tsunami hit, 100 hectares of forest was lost - but with the help from the local community and the government, OISCA International is restoring the damaged area in the next ten years.  They have recently received a new 4WD from their corporate partner that allows the team to make trips to the field more frequently.  We hope this will boost their activities to plant the black pine seedlings.  For more updates from OISCA International, learn from here.

We at GlobalGiving really appreciate your long-term interest in the recovery efforts in Japan.  We have awarded grants to 19 organizations to date, and we are supporting many more through fundraising activities on GlobalGiving.  Your contribution to this fund is making all this possible.  Thank you very, very much!



A future violinist at FESJ!
A future violinist at FESJ!
On the Road is going to build
On the Road is going to build 'Long Beach House'
Oct 9, 2013

AMDA's ongoing effort to support Tohoku

Thank you for your continued support and donation to AMDA's activities focusing on recovery of Tohoku, Japan. We are very much grateful of your generous donation that arrives through Global Giving.

After more than 2 and half years since the destructive earthquake and tsunami that had hit Tohoku, Japan in March 2011, AMDA still seeks possible ways to help the disaster-affected communities. 

The summer of 2013, Japan was hit by a record-setting heat. Tohoku was no exception. Through the scorching summer heat, teenagers and university students contributed to the future of Tohoku.

To read more about AMDA's activities, please read the attached report.

Thank you once again!!


Attachments:
Oct 1, 2013

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

Mikoshi paraded through Oginohama
Mikoshi paraded through Oginohama

 

Target Area


Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during  July, August & September, 2013.

 

Community Building in Ishinomaki

 

 

At this time of the year, many volunteers, from students during their summer vacation to adults taking days off, visited Ishinomaki. JEN and volunteers have been supporting local people through various events and activities.

 

[To continue Traditional Local Festivals]

 

JEN and volunteers have been assisting to continue traditional local festivals.

On September 9, an autumn festival was held in Oginohama, Ishinomaki. Volunteers supported in carrying mikoshi (portable shrine). Oginohama’s festival is known for its mikoshi being paraded through Oginohama Cove on boat. They prepared for the festival from the day before.

 

On August 24, Jizo-ko festival was held at Kadonowakicho town, Ishinomaki city for the first time in three years which is to praise Jizo (small stone statues venerated as the guardian deity of local residents) for Jizo's good deeds. Volunteers from Aoyama Gakuin University sweated at preparing for the festival. On the same day, JEN donated Manekinoie House, a meeting place adaptable to other uses, to Maneki Community, a resident’s association to set up mainly by current residents after the disaster.

 

On July 31 and August 1 was held Ishinomaki Kawabiraki River Festival, a signature summer summer event of Ishinomaki. The festival has never been called off even after the disaster and helped lift citizens' spirits every year.

It was after three years' absence that Magobe rowboat race as well as a dance to celebrate good catch, the festival's main attractions, made a successful comeback.

Elementary school pupils’ yearly drum and fife band parade was also performed along shopping streets. Among participating elementary schools are those schools whose music instruments had been damaged by the disaster. JEN have provided new instruments for them in the collaboration with mudef.

The number of visitors to the festival for two days was said to be 169,000, attracting 20,000 more than last year. It was felt that Ishinomaki is gradually regaining what were all too real in the past, after seeing Magobe boat race reviving, the children's drum and fife band performing a parade and visitors happily smiling. Hoping to see many more visitors smiling, JEN will continue to work activities to enliven Ishinomaki.

 

 

[Blossoms in Ishinomaki]

 

JEN is assisting "Spread Flower Garden through Human Connection", a movement based on an idea of students at Kadonowaki Junior High School.

On July 24, students at Kadonowaki Junior High School volunteered to plant flowers.

On August 29, twenty-five students at Kansai Gakuin Senior High School volunteered to help us weed the flower garden. They said that they wanted to come here in the post-disaster period, but it was impossible; they want to help with whatever they still can do.

 

[Personal Computer Class at Town on the Sea]

 

In response to resident’s requirements, JEN has opened “Personal Computer class for the Use of ICT as Reconstruction Support” side by side with Reconstruction University and BHN Association. Residents are learning such as the basics of Word and Excel, how to use Facebook. They are learning toward their goals, to make use of the PC skills for their business and to get in touch with volunteers or supporters who came to help them after the disaster.

 

 

 

[The 3rd “Come to Join Fishing Event!”]

 

On August 3-4, the third “Come to Join Fishing Event!” was held at Higashihama on the Oshika Peninsula which was planned by an executive committee organized by local resident volunteers. This year’s program, the third, featured a lot of hands-on experience such as gill net fishing, cooking, get-together, beach cleanup, study tour of aquaculture facility and so on. "'When I came to Ishinomaki two years ago, an improbable sight was outspread before me. But today, as a fan of Higashihama, I was really glad to be able to get on with people here and have such a wonderful time.', ' Learning about fishery, I was able to have an unique experience of mixing with people in the community.'" As participants said, expressing a feeling of enjoyment.

 

 

 

[F-1 Reconstruction Gourmet Food Contest held in Oshika Noren Restaurant District]

 

On July 21, F-1 Reconstruction Gourmet Food Contest (delicious, inexpensive, local food competition to promote reconstruction) took place at Oshika Noren Restaurant District in Aukawa on the finger of the Oshika Peninsula, with twelve reconstruction-gourmet-food stalls from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures standing side by side.

This year’s contest, the third in the series, took place for the first time at Oshika Noren Restaurant District that JEN has supported in setting up. Four food items from Ishinomaki joined the contest, each one is made of  Ishinomaki’s specialty ingredients which enhanced the flavor! The Grand Prix went to Moby dog from Oshika Noren Restaurant District! They say Moby dog enjoyed a runaway popularity, with the advantage for the contest to be held at home.

Hoping that every restaurant district uses this opportunity to lift the spirit of its community including Oshika Noren Restaurant District, JEN will continue to support the contest.

 

 

 

[Radio Talk Show “Skidatsucha Ishinomaki by JEN”]

 

A radio program for Ishinomaki reconstruction, "Skidatsucha Ishinomaki by JEN” (I love Ishinomkai; Sponsored by JEN.)" via Ishinomaki Radio Station, began on July5. This program covers what's nice about Ishinomaki, what goes into what a gallery of fascinating people in Ishinomaki works on and what's going on in Ishinomaki now being on the road to reconstruction. The title for this program, "Skidatsucha Ishinomkai by JEN ", reflects JEN's wish to 'get many more people loving Ishinomaki and make life in Ishinomki more exciting. JEN is committed to continuing efforts to produce such a program that listeners begin to love Ishinmaki and can share a positive frame of mind. The program goes out live every Friday from 0:30 p.m. for thirty minutes. Listen to it! (Japanese only)

 

 

 

[Ajishirahama Bathing Beach to Open]

 

On July 19, Ajishirahama bathing beach has opened. Both on July 6 and 7, JEN Tohoku reconstruction assistance volunteers worked on cleaning up Ajishirahama bathing each and weeding mountain trails together with local residents. Having done the day’s work, the volunteers had a get-to-know-you party with islanders at Gatsukou of Ajishima Island. Island life, marine products and this island’s future the volunteers heard from and talked with the islanders about. Volunteer activities in Ajishima Island have just begun. JEN believes that it’s necessary to look for a better future of the island, through deepening dialogues with islanders, continued activities there.

The donation of Manekinoie community House
The donation of Manekinoie community House
Students are pulling out overgrown weeds.
Students are pulling out overgrown weeds.
The PC class at Oharahama
The PC class at Oharahama
Experience of making mother shells to raise oyster
Experience of making mother shells to raise oyster
Street Food Competition
Street Food Competition
The program is hosted by PR staff in Ishinomaki
The program is hosted by PR staff in Ishinomaki
a reuse facility of closed junior high school
a reuse facility of closed junior high school

Links:

Sep 24, 2013

A New-stage Problem, but with Cooperative Solution

Tent as
Tent as

Dear Precious Donors,

     Please excuse my delay in sending my report on the Isatomae Tent Shop to GlobalGiving, since the Typhoon 18 which brought quite heavy rain and land slides on September 16, 2013, prevented me taking a trip there. It was too risky for me to travel and I might have been stranded in a train.

     The shop tent at Isatomae is still there being used as a storage, while the Fukko Publicly-financed Temporary Shops are attracting people over weekends with a newly added children’s facility. Situations are just the same as before. except that some serious discussions are taking place among diverse-involved partners about who will take care of the shop tent. This issue became really serious, since the strong wind and heavy rain of the Typhoon 18 might have torn the tent apart. One issue was that nobody was clear who owns the tent. In an early stage of emergency, the biggest concerns among partners were to have the Isatomae Community restarted and get the local economy working. Everybody was hoping to see the good effects of the tent, which was amazingly well achieved. But in this process, some tacit agreement seems to have existed who takes care of the maintenance of the tent.

     Until all members moved out of the tent in August 2012, the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce was fully taking care of the tent. Then, the remaining mountain school, which was closely affiliated with the Japan Forest Biomas Network, was maintaining the tent, according to the head of the Tengu Nature Mountain School in Isatomae. Since they also moved out in September, 2013, the issue of who owns and maintains the tent became a serious issue. The owner of the land where the tent is located seems to be claiming that the tent should be either removed or his company will use the tent for their storage. Discussions involving the Forest Biomas Network, the local Chamber of Commerce and the land owner seem to have reached a temporary solution that the land owner uses the tent for its storage under his maintenance, until newly arising needs of the local Chamber of Commerce comes out in the near future. The reason is that within two years the Fukko Publicly-financed Temporary Shop will be removed, since the land will be elevated to seven meters high adjacent to 8.5 meter-high dike (previously the elevation was reported to be five meters). All equipment and facilities currently used at the Fukko Temporary Shops will be stored in the shop tent, until they can all move into newly established permanent shops. When this final stage comes, three partners will discuss what to do with the tent, to be continuously used as a storage for the land owner or to be removed. This was a nice solution, since the tent is still usable and will be continuously used to support people in the Chamber of Commerce, though the final stage may be about five or seven years away.

     Thus, the cost for maintaining the shop tent does not have to carried by the local Chamber of Commerce. But donations are still in need to keep the dynamics of the Fukko Publicly-financed Temporary Shops. Your kind help for this cause is still very much appreciated by people in the Isatomae Community. I am very grateful for your help, since they still have a long and long way to go before they can really find their home and community in a permanent condition. Until then for about, may be seven years, everything will be temporary. It is a psychologically and really tough situation for people in the Isatomae Community.

Tent Shop Functioning as a Storage
Tent Shop Functioning as a Storage
The Tengu Mountain Nature School Moved Out
The Tengu Mountain Nature School Moved Out

Links:

Sep 10, 2013

Helping Non Government Organizations Remain Effective During a Disaster

Yumi Terahata Presenting the Day
Yumi Terahata Presenting the Day's Topic

In January of 2012, Japanese Scientists at Tokyo University and Global Seismologists released a report that put forward a 70% chance of a 7+ Richter-scale earthquake hitting Japan in the next 4 years. Due to this prediction, a significant disaster risk reduction effort is ongoing in Japan, and International Medical Corps is working with local partners to build the capacity of local community-based organizations. 

The majority of Japanese Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) now realize that ensuring their organization’s integrity when they themselves are hit by a disaster is essential to their ability to provide humanitarian aid quickly and efficiently to affected populations. However, many of these organizations do not have the necessary resources and technical know-how to make such preparations. To fill this crucial gap, International Medical Corps is providing risk management expertise to NGOs and helping them to prepare a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) so that they will be ready to respond to future disasters.

International Medical Corps and seasoned BCP experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.) are conducting a three-part workshop series that begins with teaching local organizations the fundamentals of business continuity planning; and finishes with each NGO creating a simple, practical BCP plan that fits its respective organizational needs. Assignments are given to participants after the workshops, and are taken back to their organizations to facilitate BCP implementation and to ensure that the BCP drafting exercise is applicable to the organizations.

 

Workshop Part 1 (August 20, 2013): “An Introduction to Business Continuity Planning for NGOs”

International Medical Corps, together with its corporate partners and Japan Platform (the consortium of Japanese Emergency Response NGOs), successfully conducted Part One of this three-workshop series. A total of 28 staff members from 19 organizations participated in this workshop.

Yumi Terahata, International Medical Corps Country Representative, introduced the day’s topic and presented on the need for NGOs to keep themselves functional in times of emergency so they can recover quickly from a disaster and effectively provide assistance to the affected population. Takahiro Ono, BCP Manager at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd., taught participating NGO senior management personnel about risk management and the various steps that go into an ever-evolving business continuity plan. Workshop participants then completed a BCP simulation exercise of an emergency scenario, incorporating what they learned during the previous lecture and basing their responses on their own organization’s unique resources and capacities.

 

Workshop Part 2 (scheduled for September 11, 2013): “Risk Assessment and Priority Action Items.”

Topics the NGOs will examine at this workshop include: identifying the particular risks they face (e.g. natural disaster, etc.), the specific tasks they must complete to ensure that they are functional and able to fulfill their mandate after the disaster, persons responsible for each task, and special considerations that must be addressed as part of the planning process. Participants will then develop a list of action items, including timeframes, to address the implementation of their plan.

 

Workshop Part 3 (scheduled for October 9, 2013):

Based on their work in the previous workshops, each NGO will draft a BCP plan that meets its organizational needs. BCP experts will provide feedback to each organization’s BCP draft and offer suggestions/advice for improvement.

Takahiro Ono Teaching Risk Management
Takahiro Ono Teaching Risk Management
Noriko Yoichi Providing Sample Responses
Noriko Yoichi Providing Sample Responses
Workshop Participants Completing a BCP SImulation
Workshop Participants Completing a BCP SImulation
Masayuki Tanaka Presenting his Responses
Masayuki Tanaka Presenting his Responses
Sep 5, 2013

Update from Minamisanriku, Miyagi

Mr. Endo, Oyster Farmer in Minamisanriku
Mr. Endo, Oyster Farmer in Minamisanriku

Slow progress--long recovery

We’d like to thank you for your support to our effort to revitalize the fishing industry in tsunami affected area in Japan.  In the past two years, we have implemented various projects and helped over 1,000 people in Kesennuma and Minamisanriku (Miyagi Prefecture).  Projects included fishing co-operatives support (buildings, staff, computers and office equipment), maritime high school rehabilitation, grants to small businesses, fishing equipment subsidies to families, a wind breaker fence for the oyster processing, etc    All have really helped restart critical livelihoods within the area.   Thank You!

In early August, I met with the members of oyster processing group in Minamisanriku.  Earlier this spring, together with our sister organization Peace Winds Japan (PWJ), PWA had provided a windshield fence to improve the oyster processing facilities.   This fence protected the 23 women and oyster farmers from the freezing gusty winds while they processed the oysters.

When we met, they were also busy preparing oyster seeds for next year’s season.  They reported that last harvesting was very successful and hoped to have another good season this year.  The tsunami had cleaned the sea bottom and improved the water conditions, which helped produce high quality oysters - perhaps one of the few positive outcomes from the 3/11 disaster.   “If you are good at it, you can shell more than ten oysters in a minute,” said Fujiko Sugawara, one of the women who worked at the facility.  “If big oysters, I can fill up a 10kg bucket in no time.”  She looked proud.  “We are just happy to be able to do this work again.”  The other women nodded.  “Oyster processing is a family business.  We never did this in a team environment, but we have to work as a team for a while to get through this very tough time.  I can’t wait to go back to a more family-oriented work style, because this is been our method for many, many years.”  

They are hoping to able to work as they used to do perhaps by August 2014.  Until then, they will try to make the most out of this work situation.

The recovery of Tohoku has begun, yet slowly.  PWA will continue to monitor the recovery progress and provide timely support.   We hope that you will be able to help us. 

- Appeal to help our Fishing Shed program –

We are building fishing sheds for fishing families in Minamisanriku.  We have just identified two new districts where the families are in critical need of storage and work space.  It’s important for PWA to complete the construction before winter so more fishing families will have better working environment. We do need your help!  Please read our Fishing Shed program reports and help us reach more fishermen. Please visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/sheds-for-japan-tsunami-fishing-families/ and help us support more fishing families.  

Thank you.

Mari Poorman

Looking forward to the next Oyster season!
Looking forward to the next Oyster season!
PWA Mari and Oyster processing group
PWA Mari and Oyster processing group
Fun interview moment with Endo-san
Fun interview moment with Endo-san
Long way to a recovery
Long way to a recovery

Links:

Aug 27, 2013

Cheering up the evacuees in Fukushima Prefecture

A participant Sho assisted the magicians
A participant Sho assisted the magicians

On August 9th 2013, we organized a community interaction event at Matsukawa Daini Temporary Housing Complex in Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture. The event program included body massages by a professional physical therapist, folk music concert and a magic show. A total of 41 participants gathered at the community center in the temporary housing complex and enjoyed the entertaining performance, briefly forgetting the mental fatigue, which the evacuees daily experience.

Although the event had been announced to begin at 1:00 p.m., several participants started coming at around 12:30 p.m. In the first hour, the participants received body massage by the professional physiotherapist, Ms. Yokoyama, which helped the participants relax their bodies and receive advice on their health condition. At 2:00 p.m., a pair of men in bright costumes showed up in front of the audience, who turned out to be the great magicians/comedy duo ‘Akkerakan’. They performed various and eye-catching tricks and even a pigeon appeared from a hat, which evoked a wave of applause among the audience. A 10 years-old boy, Sho, who participated in the event with his grandmother, volunteered and greatly enjoyed to assist the magician duo. With an excited and amused smile, he told us that it was his first time to see a magic so closely. Then the folk music concert started, amusing the audience with powerful music, dance and comical short drama. During the concert, the audience intently listened to the united harmony of powerful singing voice, Shamisen (Japanese traditional string instrument) and Tsuzumi (Japanese traditional drum). Some participants shed tears when they and the performers together sang a message song about the prayers for the recovery of disaster-affected areas. Then, changing the atmosphere completely, a short comedy drama was performed, which featured a character that was very popular among the senior generation of the participants. The event ended with the biggest applause and beaming smiles of the audience.

Since the residents in Matsukawa Daini Temporary Housing Complex are originally from the same village, the social ties are relatively retained, and there are opportunities for gathering and doing activities together. Still, the participants assured that they were happy to join such events that gave another opportunity to come out to mingle with other residents. They are originally from Iitate Village, a large area of which is classified in the off-limit zone due to the high level of radiation. When an AAR Japan staff member Matsumoto had a chance to talk with two of the participants, Ms. Ito and Ms. Takahashi, they spoke cheerfully and, even with a laugh, described their village as ‘the area that was most severely damaged by the radiation’. They continued, ‘Even after moving to this temporary housing complex, we are doing quite well since the residents are all from the same village. We enjoy playing gateball and crafting basket together, and we are getting along well’. However, when they were asked whether they wanted to return to their home village, their facial expression slightly hardened. They answered, ‘We are not sure about that, since we are not able to return in any way’. This is the moment when we re-acknowledged that there is still a long way to go for the evacuees to positively look at their future. We will continue our efforts to cheer up the feelings of disaster-affected people and help them regain the strength to look forward. 

Powerful dance to the folk music
Powerful dance to the folk music
Participants in bright smiles
Participants in bright smiles
Beautiful harmony of Japanese musical instruments
Beautiful harmony of Japanese musical instruments
A short comical drama with the popular character
A short comical drama with the popular character
participants and performers sang together
participants and performers sang together
Aug 26, 2013

bGeigie Nano Kit released

Aizu build event
Aizu build event

As those of you who have been following Safecast for a while know, the "bGeigie" is the radiation monitoring platform we developed specifically to take readings while mobile -be that in a car, on a bike, or walking. Since the beginning of Safecast our volunteer force has been restricted not by interested people, but in devices to let them use. We just couldn't make enough fast enough. Over the last 2 years we've been refining the bGeigie platform again and again, with the intention of making is small enough that anyone could carry one around, and simple enough that it could be built in a few hours by anyone with a soldering iron. The bGeigie Nano is the results of those efforts, and it's the workhorse device the entire Safecast team relies on now. Together with our hardware partner International Medcom we're excited to release the bGeigie Nano kit. 

With a 2" pancake sensor, onboard GPS, data logging, and everything else the Nano without question our favorite tool in the Safecast aresenal. We recently held a build party in Aizu, Fukushima and built 13 of them in a weekend with the help of a team of volunteers - many of whome had never picked up a soldering iron before. The kit isn't cheap - but it's not designed to be a low cost solution. It's designed to be the best device we could imagine making, and it collects reliable accurate data configured perfectly for the Safecast dataset. This kit allows anyone in the world to take mobile readings and submit them back to to us. It's only been available for a month but we've already had a number of organizations buy several kits for their teams around the world as well as over 50 individuals who otherwise wouldn't have had access to this equipment. We're expecting to see data from Sudan and several parts of Russia soon.

This is a huge step for us and we're very excited to see how this helps us fill in some of the harder to reach gaps in the Safecast map and dataset.

bGeigie Nano
bGeigie Nano

Links:

Aug 14, 2013

Tohoku Youth Basketball Program

Group Photo
Group Photo

Through the inaugural HandsOn Tokyo Summer Teen Program, one of the high school participants chose as his project to bring US-style basketball training to children in the Tohoku region.  With advise from former NBA stars, domestic professional and former professional basketball players, the volunteers put on a two-day program that sought to emphasize the enjoyment of basketball and to introduce a more American style of competitiveness.  

Our regional partner is the Ofunato Junior Sports League, which is run by the city's social welfare department, but is largely organized and managed by the children's parents.  Following the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami, one of the consequences was the impact on local children and their physical education.  With their parents struggling in many cases to get back on their feet, the Junior Sports League activities, understandably, became a very low priority.  Thankfully, as the region has begun to make progress toward recovery, many of the sports activities have re-started; however, many teams are now consolidations of smaller groups reflecting the affects of the disaster on the population.  Moreover, in response to the urgent need for housing, Ofunato built over 1,800 temporary houses to accommodate the disenfranchised, many of which were schoolyards (and one complex resided at the Massaki Elementary School (these buildings can be seen on the map below of the school as the row houses.)  The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that the City has coopted other public spaces, such as parks and play areas, for temporary housing.  As such, outdoor sports is increasingly challenge and the local Sports Leagues wants to get the kids to play basketball.  

Over the course of two days, Hands On Tokyo supported six volunteers to run the first Tohoku Youth Basketball Program, putting the kids through drills, playing skills games for prizes, and after a mini-draft, dividing the 24 elementary school children into four teams for a round-robbin tournament.  We also provided t-shirts to all the participants so no one went home empty handed!  

Following the program, the parents of the students treated the volunteers to a terrific barbecue at the local fire department.  The homemade grill made from used propane tanks (ironically constructed by the firemen!) served the 50+ parents, athletes and volunteers.  We were able to get feedback from the locals who praised the young volunteers for inspiring them to incorporate more fun into their training, increase competition and most importantly, increased the level of interest amongst the school children in basketball.  

We hope to have this event as an annual event, including more area sports teams in the program.

Watching how the pros gets it done!
Watching how the pros gets it done!
Drills
Drills
Dribbling skills game
Dribbling skills game
A future star?
A future star?
Please come again
Please come again
Aug 13, 2013

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: July 2013

Tohoku Newsletter Banner July 2013

Summer has arrived! The rainy season has passed, and temperatures have soared up in cities throughout Japan. These extreme temperatures, combined with high humidity, bring with them dangers such as heat strokes. As the heat continues over the next few weeks, we hope everyone remembers to stay hydrated and well!

Many projects and programs are making strides at our MakiBiz office. We are excited to begin supporting the eight businesses that were carefully selected through the RFP program, and these will be moving forward quickly over the coming months. In Kamaishi, an insightful community engagement workshop was recently held for the Kamaishi Park for All project, and the design continues to be refined with community input. Additionally, we have been providing consultation services as always, and round two of business seminars have been taking place at MakiBiz. Find out more below.

High temperatures will continue over the following weeks. Please take care of your health.


Best,
Architecture for Humanity

*As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.   


UPDATES 

MakiBiz RFPMakiBiz Request for Proposal Program
The application period for MakiBiz's Request for Proposal (supporting the rebuilding of affected small businesses and entrepreneurs) has ended, and after careful consideration, eight businesses were chosen out of nearly 40 applications received from the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima. MakiBiz will continue supporting these businesses, and projects will kick off shortly! Look forward to updates to follow.


Park for All Community Engagement
On July 10, a community design workshop was held with nearly 50 local participants. Preliminary designs were presented with drawings and models, and participants were encouraged to provide feedback for design refinement. Read what the community came up with in the report here.

MakiBiz has supported 103 business owners to date. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.


On June 28th, the installation of a fence in the back yard of the community house was completed. Boards were fitted on both sides of the fence, and a door was also installed. Now children can play without the danger of falling. Full report here.



UPCOMING EVENTS

MAKOTO Business Seminar 2 at MakiBiz
MAKOTO Business Seminars
The second round of MAKOTO Business Seminars has kicked off at MakiBiz, with two seminars held to date. Mr. Tomohiro Takei is again, leading these seminars with the first two held on how to create a business plan. Four seminars remain in this series, all held in the evenings at our MakiBiz office free of charge. See this flyer (in Japanese only) to find out how to sign up. Reports on these seminars to come.



JOB OPPORTUNITIES & PROGRAM NEEDS



TOHOKU PROJECT STATUS REPORT

In Progress

Park for All in Kamaishi - 75% SD/DD

Completed

Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" - Completed Feb/2013
Maeami-hama Community House - Completed Feb/2013
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center - Completed Dec/2012
Akahama Covered Alley- Completed Jul/2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative- Completed Jul/2012
Paper Crane Sculpture - Completed Jan/2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku - Completed Dec/2011
Ohya Green Sports Park - Completed Dec/2011
Hikado Marketplace - Completed Jul/2011


CA Construction Administration ; CD Construction Documents ; DD Design Development ; SD Schematic Design ; PD Pre-Design  - About the Phases

Aug 12, 2013

Monthly Report vol.28

Public-private partnership for reconstruction support

  On July 2, the Minister for Reconstruction Takumi Nemoto announced at the 8th meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council, which was attended by all cabinet members, that the government will start developing a “Growth Strategy” for the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and a platform for sharing information on job placements and private investment in the field of disaster reconstruction.

  The strategy specifically aims to revitalize the affected areas through creation of sites for centralizing all information on job placements and providing venues where people can seek advice on business management from experts such as financial institutions. There is also a plan to establish a system for dispatching experts from other areas to companies, municipal governments, and commerce and industry associations in the affected areas. The objective of
these plans is to raise the level of reconstruction from “rebuilding” to “growth,” and the key to implementing the plans will be for both the public sector and the private sector to share an awareness of cooperating for the same goal.

Private sector efforts will be a driving force in changing the society

  We envision a society where, in times of disaster, the government (i.e. the public sector) provides existing public services while NPOs, companies and individuals (i.e. the private sector) also contribute towards attaining public benefit; both the public and private sectors, in their respective positions, will actively provide services ranging from emergency relief activities to building new towns in the reconstruction phase. We established Civic Force in the aim of creating such a society, and now we are focusing on supporting those people who are in the affected areas and are independently seeking to start new businesses for reconstruction.

  Our “Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Projects,” which were launched in the summer of 2012, aim to solve the problems that had existed in the affected areas since before the disaster, such as the decline of the agriculture sector and issues related to the medical care system, which stem from depopulation and ageing of the communities. We have ongoing projects in five fields: “tourism,” “emergency medical service,” “renewable energy,” “town development” and “child support.” These projects take full advantage of our partnerships with NPOs and local governments that were built through our NPO Partner Projects, which were started just after the earthquake.

  This Monthly Report features one of the Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Projects, in an article that covers the opening ceremony to launch  the “Platform for the Creation of Ria Coast Tourism,” which was established in Kesennuma city, Miyagi Prefecture, and the role Civic Force played in the establishment of the organization.

  The private sector will be a huge driving force for changing the society and leading the way to a new era. Civic Force will continue to work towards creating a system that will maximize such a driving force.

 

If you need further information, please find our homepage(www.civic-force.org/english)

Links:


Attachments:
Aug 12, 2013

Monthly Report vol.27

Mental care and Reconstruction of Devastated Areas

 More than two years have passed since the Great East Japan earthquake. In devastated areas such as Miyagi and Iwate prefecture, tangible movements towards reconstruction such as debris removal, restoration of public infrastructure, construction of disaster public housing is underway. On the other hand, the psychological stress of disaster victims who have lost their loved ones or have faced significant changes in living conditions is immeasurable, and the need for psychological care is increasing in number.

  In particular, there have been recent cases where people cannot adapt to the new community after moving from temporary housing, and thus, becoming more reclusive from society.

 In the case of the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in 1995, the number of victims who needed psychological care is said to have increased three years from the disaster, after physical safety and ordinary life stabilized among the disaster victims. In the disaster-struck Tohoku region, where similar circumstances are occurring, we came across people who support the lives of the disaster victims. These “mental experts=clinical psychologists” have been helping people solve their psychological needs according to their characteristics and situations.

  As of April 2013, the number of clinical psychologists certified by the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists was 26,329. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the ratio of clinical psychologists is one per approximately 7,000 people in Miyagi prefecture and 9,000 in Iwate prefecture, while the ratio in Tokyo is one per approximately 3,000, showing how the number of clinical psychologists in the disaster-struck Tohoku region is far below the national average. In particular, 70% of the clinical psychologists in the entire Iwate prefecture are concentrated in and around Morioka city. Especially for the coastal disaster areas where there were shortages of physicians and hospitals even before the earthquake, there is a greater need for psychological care, and the importance of clinical psychologists in the area is way above other prefectures.

  This month, we will introduce the activities of Iwate Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists, one of the efforts of NPO Partner Projects which supports NPOs established in devastated areas to respond to their needs. The Iwate Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists carried out their activities in the coastal disaster areas soon after the earthquake, as “specialists” offering various mental cares in cooperation with Iwate prefecture, municipal administrations and private organizations.

If you need further information, please find our homepage.(www.civic-force.org/english)


Attachments:
Aug 8, 2013

Life-changing fun at Tohoku Summer Camp!

Summer is here! Even as we write this, kids from Tohoku children’s homes are creating incredible memories at summer camp - thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Global Giving community! It’s another great summer of hiking, swimming, climbing, crafts, campfires, and lots of other healthy fun in the outdoors. With the help of supporters like you, we have invited 100 at-risk children to this summer’s camps!

This is our third summer providing outdoor camps for some of the most vulnerable children from the disaster affected areas. The continuity of this project has allowed us to see real progress from season to season.

Building Trust, Communication, Leadership

Many children are now camp veterans. We see returning campers opening up more, communicating more freely with us and with their fellow campers. They are becoming true leaders, helping new campers feel welcome and helping them understand what camp is all about. Together, we are creating a culture of support, trust, and FUN for children who haven’t had nearly enough of those.

Deepening Relationships

 It’s not only the children making progress. We are building stronger relationships with the staff of the children’s homes, involving them far more in every aspect of the camps. In June we visited several children’s homes in Tohoku, to learn more about the kids’ daily life and struggles, while seeking advice and listening to the hopes of their caretakers. The home staff made it clear that they want to be active participants in the camps, which is wonderful. They told us that at camp they can see the children in a new light, and deepen their relationships in ways they don’t always have time or energy for in their daily life.

The home staff also stressed the effects that camp has long after summer is past. For example, at camp we very deliberately model - and expect - kind, polite, and respectful speech. It simply makes for a more pleasant camp atmosphere, and reduces the number of conflicts arising between campers. But the effects don’t stop there. The staff of several homes reported that the children continue these communication habits after camp, influencing the atmosphere and relationships of the entire children’s home!

Climbing to the Next Level Together!

Seeing how far the ripples go has inspired us all to keep reaching for more. We are excited to announce the birth of a new nonprofit called Mirai no Mori (“forest of the future” in Japanese). Living Dreams remains a key supporter of the project. English Adventure, the company that operated the camps to date in cooperation with Living Dreams, will continue to provide major support for camp execution.

However, NPO Mirai no Mori will allow us to take this project to another level entirely. Mirai no Mori will focus solely on empowering youth living in children’s welfare homes, through life-changing outdoor experiences. The youth of the disaster affected areas of Tohoku remain at the center of the project, and of this GlobalGiving campaign. At the same time, Mirai no Mori will reach out to at-risk children in other parts of Japan, who face many of the same challenges. By applying the lessons and experiences of our camps for Tohoku children to society at large, we hope that something beautiful will be born out of tragedy. Please continue with us on this journey!

In our next report, we’ll share photos and stories to convey the fun and growth from this summer’s Tohoku camps! Until then, thank you so much for making this project happen, and changing these children’s lives in real and wonderful ways.

Jul 30, 2013

Pavement work done at 'Tamura Kibo no Sato'

The ground before the pavement construction
The ground before the pavement construction

On June 24th 2013, AAR Japan staff member Masayuki OKADA visited 'Tamura Kibo no Sato', a facility for Persons with Disabilities where we have recently completed concrete pavement work of the ground. Although the construction initially aimed at reducing the risk of radiation exposure by removing contaminated pebbles that covered the ground, it also helped the facility users in wheelchairs to move freely across the property of the facility.

About Tamura Kibo no Sato

Tamura Kibo no Sato is a workshop located in Tamura City, Fukushima Prefecture. It provides job training to approximately 20 persons with mental and physical disabilities and the workshop users are engaged in various work commissioned by companies inside or outside Fukushima Prefecture including folding and bagging of clothes, producing artificial flowers and boxing of gardening kits, etc. The users enjoy working diligently every day, which provides them with opportunity to further participate in the society. Some of the users live in the group home ‘Yu no Sato’ which is located in the same property as the workshop.

Why pavement construction?

The facility is located in the mountainous area approximately 50km away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The mountainous area is said to be exposed to higher risk of radiation since the radioactive materials can be condensed through the ecological circulation system, hence the facility, of which backyard closely looks onto the mountain, has been very concerned over the risk of radiation exposure. Previously the ground of the property was covered with pebbles but those pebbles became contaminated by radiation following the accident at the nuclear power plant. The facility wished to remove all the contaminated pebbles and pave the ground with concrete rather than replacing the old pebbles with new ones, considering that the newly replaced pebbles will again accumulate a large amount of radiation due to its uneven surface. Thus, we decided to carry out the paving work, which completed in May 2013. This enabled the facility users to concentrate on their job training feeling less worried about radiation exposure. In addition, the paving work also brought another benefit to the facility- the facility users in wheelchair used to have trouble in moving on the pebbled ground which also had level differences and ditches. In response to this situation, the pavement construction was completed in the way to ensure eliminating these barriers. The facility is now prepared to provide better working and living environment, in which the wheelchair users can be more active and independent.

The smooth ground after the pavement construction
The smooth ground after the pavement construction
No step at the entrance after the paving work
No step at the entrance after the paving work
The facility user folds and bags the clothes
The facility user folds and bags the clothes
Artificial flowers made by the facility users
Artificial flowers made by the facility users
Jul 26, 2013

New support for Japanese organizations

More than two years have passed since a 7.2 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan, and you have helped raise over $10 million through GlobalGiving to support more than 25 organizations working directly in Miyagi, Iwate, and more recently, Fukishima. 

In March 2013 I returned to Japan with GlobalGiving’s president and co-founder, Mari Kuraishi, to visit the rebuilding efforts that your funds have supported. Two years after 3.11, much has changed. Where a year ago lights were dimmed even in Tokyo and everyone talked obsessively about how to be ready for the next big one in the national public media, now a sense of normalcy has returned to places like Tokyo not directly affected by the disaster. Even in Tohoku, the piles of debris that had covered the landscape just a year before were gone, and in their place were empty fields.

But a lot of things, especially in the depleted and torn up coastal communities are not back to normal, and there is no question that whatever emerges for the Tohoku area, it will have to be a new normal. For one, the question of economic viability—already sharp for the Tohoku communities that even before the tsunami had been aging more quickly than the rest of the country—has become truly acute. This is still no resolution on the very basic question of where people will live—will they be allowed to rebuild on the pieces of land they own so close to the flooding areas?—and people’s main assets are locked up in limbo, stifling bottom-up economic recovery. What this means on a day-to-day basis is that many families are still living in cramped temporary shelters. There is as yet no timeline for people to move into more permanent homes. In Fukushima, the problem is compounded by the fact that people have to decide whether they want to move back to their homes near the nuclear power plant explosion or abandon everything they own.

In this context, we have ended up supporting a two pronged approach in our final grantmaking for the recovery efforts in Tohoku. One, we have found a couple of promising projects working on finding viable alternative economic activities in Miyagi, and would very much like to see them succeed. Two, we have continued to provide ease for the elderly, the young, and the disabled who cannot leave or build out new ventures, in the hope that the communities will be revitalized over time to take care of them all.  A list of our most recent grants are at the bottom of this letter.  We hope you’ll watch over their evolution and champion their progress.

We’re looking forward to updating you on the progress of these newest grants in the coming months. 

Thank you again,
Britt

P.S. The Japanese Red Cross Society recently put out a list of the top countries that donated to the relief effort here.  According to this study, if GlobalGiving were a separate country, we would be the fourth largest donor.  Thanks for your generosity!

New fishing sheds from Peace Winds Japan
New fishing sheds from Peace Winds Japan
Jul 11, 2013

Update from Tohoku

Dear Global Giving Donors,

Thank you for your continued donation to AMDA's Project, Support High School Students in Tohoku. It has been almost two and half years since the Tohoku region was hit by the earthquake and tsunami, and each one of your continued generous donations have made their lives better ones.

As school year starts in April and finishes in March in Japan, the graduation takes place everywhere in March. In Tohoku, some of the high school students who actually helped the victims of the March 11th Disaster, graduated from their high schools.

AMDA continues to offer scholarship to high school students from the Tohoku region seeking their future career in medical field.

For more stories, please see the attached report. 

Thank you once again for your continued support.


Attachments:
Jul 2, 2013

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

Enjoy a hula dancing lesson at temporary shelter.
Enjoy a hula dancing lesson at temporary shelter.

Project

Relief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake.

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during  Apr, May & June, 2013.

Community Building in Ishinomaki

[Hula Dancing Classes for Evacuees]

Now, more than two years after the disaster, community rebuilding in Ishinomaki is more important than ever. JEN supports opportunities for the residents of Ishinomaki to come together and through group activities, begin the recovery process. For two days at the end of May, evacuees living in temporary housing complexes had the opportunity to attend a hula dance class. Sixteen evacuees attended the event, among them a 92-year-old woman. Although it was difficult for the elderly attendees to move their hips and legs, they still managed to wave their arms and hands with a smile. With both hair accessories and hula skirts on, the participants looked like they were in Hawaii. After the class, the participants came up and thanked JEN for the opportunity to exercise together saying, “I really enjoyed getting exercise, it has been a long time since I have been able to. Come back soon.” JEN will continue to work on community assistance like this. Your support would be much appreciated.

[Craft Fair]

On May 4th, JEN helped put together an event in support of the women in Ishinomaki. Eleven organizations from around the area displayed their handcrafts, exhibiting an eclectic mix of bags, jewelry, and other handmade goods. The event was very well attended with over 200 people, from both within Ishinomaki and outside, in awe of the “eye-candy” shopping, leaving them in a dilemma of which items to purchase. Guests were very interested in how the goods were made, creating new relationships between local merchants and visitors. The event interactively engaged participants, with stations for children to make their own bags and weaving tables for guests to make coasters. The next event is expected to happen October of this year, with plans to expand and have even more peer-to-peer exchanges. After the event, the program coordinator received responses from guests expressing interest in selling their own goods that they’ve since been inspired to make. JEN is dedicated to supporting the women of Ishinomaki, if you are interested in participating or learning more, please contact our Ishinomaki field office.

[Blossoms in Ishinomaki]

In May the residents of Ishinomaki enjoyed watching the 13,000 tulips planted last October, bloom, adding color and life to the city. The local Kamikama neighborhood association hosted a potluck for local residents to converse and admire the flowers together. Residents noted that before for tulips, the town really lacked feelings of life. Without any flowers and plants, the city lacked a sense the seasons and time of year. The plants not only add beauty to the city, but also help generate community-bonding events such as the hanami flower-viewing picnic. Despite the previous concerns of ruined soil as a result of the tsunami, the flowers are flourishing under Ishinomaki’s sun. Then on June 9th, volunteers worked to plow up the old bulbs and plant 13,000 new ones for the upcoming year. The bulbs that were plowed out were kept carefully in a safe place until the planting season next fall. About fifty volunteers joined the work, including leaders of the town’s association, townspeople, and people from outside the town. Although it was a hard task in the strong sunshine, one of the volunteers from outside Ishinomaki said to us, “I had an opportunity to work with people in Ishinomaki while hearing their stories and exercising, so I had a great day.”

JEN works on support programs to encourage community activities, promote restoration of farm lands, and so on. In doing so, JEN continues implementing support programs so that many people can associate with others and join together in recovering disaster-stricken areas.

Women sell their handmade goods
Women sell their handmade goods
Locals and volunteers plant tulip bulbs together
Locals and volunteers plant tulip bulbs together

Links:

Jun 24, 2013

Advancing Dynamically to Attract Outside Visitors

Isatomae Shop Tent
Isatomae Shop Tent

     The Isatomae shop tent still remains there, but it is closed for many days. Its usage has not been changed since my last visit. The nature school frequently uses the tent during a summer break for children, while it remains as a storage for shops in the Fukko Temporary Shopping Center located close to a shore road. But I have clearly identified the location of a new housing relocation area. As my picture shows, houses will be constructed in the nearest forest area from the tent. Since nobody is allowed to live along the coast any more, except building a shopping complex, people will move into the forest area. I am certain that this tent, being very close to the housing area, will be lively with people again as a community center.

      I visited Rikuzen Takata City first, and saw some construction of banks along the coast. But I could not find any bank construction work in Isatomae, Minami-sanriku-cho. It seems that an agreement among Isatomae residents has not yet been reached, though it seems to come very soon. They have agreed to build 8.5 meter banks along the coast and river, while the road will be elevated to 4.5 or 5.5 meters. It seems this road height is the source of disagreement. For residents, the elevated level of road determines the height of a wall created by banks, either 3.0 meters or 4.0 meters. The psychological effect of the difference will be quite big and important. Naturally, another issue is a disagreement between the government and residents whether the former has enough budget to accept local demand. So, they are getting a little bit behind relative to other cities, though they are advancing this issue democratically even asking a younger generation to develop an ideal redevelopment plan.

      Despite their delay, the local chamber of commerce is doing an excellent work to develop their local economy. The Isatomae community is too small to keep its economy going, and has to develop some mechanisms to bring outside people over weekends. They succeeded in doing so by organizing a local fish festival, a wakame (sea weeds) festival, weekend markets, a music festival organized young people, etc. It seems a reputation is well developed that if people come to Isatomae, they can always find some events and activities. In one event, they succeeded to attract about 12,000 people in the market. As a matter of fact, they have been so successful that the local police started having headache, since these events are eating into the police security budget.

     On Auguest 11, 2013, an event called “Festival for Utatsu Post: An Ocean Path which Linked People in its Drifting Trip” will be held. It involves a famous Okinawan singer, Mr. Shoei Higa, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) which owns the Japan Post Corporations, and the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce. One red post box originally located in Isatomae was swept away by the Tsunami, and then one year and nine months later, it suddenly came ashore in Iriomote Island, Okinawa Prefecture. According to a specialist, it must have drifted away to the Hawaii Islands and back to Nishi Omotejima. Mr. Shoei Higa learned about this story, and his producer decided to use this post box as a symbol of helping the Isatomae Community. One day the Minister of MIAC invited Mr. Higa, a representative from the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce, and related others to give a permission to use this box for a festival and also to develop a plan for future use by the Isatomae Community. This August 11 event will become an enormously big one, which is naturally a serious headache to the local police. Students at grade schools and junior high schools are also to write about the wonder of how this post box linked people through its ocean passage. The local chamber of commerce is also to invite a group of hula dancers from the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Fukushima Prefecture, another victim of the disaster, to symbolize the distance the post traveled. The Isatomae Community is now much more livelier than three months ago.

Inside the tent, used as a storage
Inside the tent, used as a storage
Forest Across the Tent for New Hosuing
Forest Across the Tent for New Hosuing
Fukko Temporary Shopping Center
Fukko Temporary Shopping Center
Mr/Mrs Yamauchi, Vice Director of Local CC
Mr/Mrs Yamauchi, Vice Director of Local CC

Links:

Jun 20, 2013

Another story from PWA - Restoring Tohoku fishing industry little by little

What a great smile!  Thank you for your support!
What a great smile! Thank you for your support!

“I can’t thank you enough.  Whenever I see my truck, I say, ‘Thank You, Peace Winds America,’ in my head.  I didn’t think I’d be able to receive support for the truck.” said Katsuo Saito.  His eyes are filled with tears.  He is a recipient of PWA’s Small Business Support program, which aims to encourage faster recovery of small business owners’ livelihoods by providing small subsidies to purchase equipment that was lost to the 2011 tsunami. 

Saito-san repairs motors for winches installed on deep-sea fishing vessels.

The tsunami destroyed his workshop, but luckily, only the first floor of the house was damaged.  It is one of the few surviving houses in his neighborhood in Kesennuma.  Saito-san’s family lived upstairs while mudding out and repairing the workshop and the first floor of the house.  His son, Shuichi, works with him. It’s a real small family business.

Until the subsidy from PWA enabled him to purchase a used truck with a crane to lift heavy winch motors, Mr. Saito had to arrange a rental truck whenever he received a repair order.  “It was just time consuming and costly to do so, and sometimes we had to turn down orders because we couldn’t arrange a rental truck in time. Now I have been working much more efficiently and being more productive.”

Deep-sea fishing is a major industry in Kesennuma. Many vessels chase wild Tuna as far as South America for as long as 18 months at a time.  They carry around 20 fishermen and crew onboard.

Saito-san plays an important role in this critical maritime industry.  “There are only three engineers who can repair these motors in Kesennuma.  We have been extremely busy but, we were not able to repair as many vessels because we lost our truck.  The average motor weighs about 600kg, so it was impossible to carry on our own.”

Saito-san still has a long way to go to rebuild his business.  His house and workshop are located in an area scheduled to be raised by 3 meters.  He will need to move.  “I need to find land where I can rebuild my workshop, but land prices have gone up and it is hard to find available and reasonably priced land in the area.” 

In order for Saito-san to be able to think about his future, he needed a truck.  A truck with a crane so he could support the many deep-sea vessels in the area and a truck which helps his livelihood.  PWA knows how to maximize your donations to provide a long lasting impact in the area’s industry. 

Tohoku is slowly recovering and we are very happy to support a small business owner like Saito-san who has been working for over 40 years helping deep-sea fishermen in the Tohoku region.  In our view, Saito-san is a very important person to help recover livelihood of so many deep sea fishermen and PWA couldn't be happier to be able to help him.

Thank you very much for your generous support!

 Mari Poorman

Father and Son.  It
Father and Son. It's a family business!
This crane can lift a motor weighs over 2t!
This crane can lift a motor weighs over 2t!

Links:

Jun 14, 2013

Update from Tohoku Fellows

Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project
Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project

Seitaro Kuroda, Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project

Before the earthquake, Rikuzentakata city in Iwate prefecture, one of the areas where we send Fellows, had a population of 24,246. By the disasters, 1,787 inhabitants died or went missing. In addition, over 1,000 inhabitants have moved out of city after the disaster.

As we have reported in the past report, “Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project” was launched to build new shopping street using containers and prefabricated building in Rikuzentakata city, with shop owners who suffered devastating damage from the disaster.

Finally, the shopping street held its grand opening in March 2013, two years after the disaster. They aim to rebuild the shopping street as a fun community place to stay for local inhabitants, from children to elderly people. They hold events where local people can gather together—for example, “Kesen morning market”, which has a 300-year-old history in Rikuzentakata.

Mr. Seitaro Kuroda, who had been thinking of working for local revitalization, took part in this project as a Fellow last July. He is in charge of fundraising and PR, and conducted opening events.

*Please check their Facebook page to see latest pictures!

Takuya Yaguchi, Iwaki Organic Cotton Project 

Iwaki city in Fukushima prefecture is another area where we send Fellows. Since they accommodated the refugees from the nuclear disaster, their population has increased by 25,000 people. Now the friction between local people and refugees from other area is becoming a serious issue in the city.

“Iwaki Organic Cotton Project” cultivates organic cotton in deserted arable land, and develops products. The project provides opportunities for both local people and refugees to communicating with each other. Through these activities, they try to ease friction in the community while conserving farm land.

Mr. Takuya Yaguchi participated in this project as a Fellow January 2013. His main roles are managing cultivating plan for their 15 farms and planning how to sell their products. He is also promoting collaboration with other organizations in Fukushima prefecture.

*Please check their Facebook page to see latest pictures!

Iwaki Organic Cotton Project
Iwaki Organic Cotton Project

Links:

Jun 13, 2013

How a Community Space Served One Resident in Japan

Before the earthquake, Mrs. Toyoda and her husband lived and worked an agricultural farm with their son, his wife, and two grandsons. After the earthquake, their home town of Odaka District was designated as a no-entry zone due to the radiation, and the family was forced to move to Tamagata. However, Mrs. Toyoda and her husband could not get used to living in a new place, and they moved to the Chikura temporary housing site. They believed it would be better to live near their hometown, even though there were fears of radiation.

The Chikura temporary housing site is one of the few places in the area where the residents are allowed to keep pets. The Toyoda’s family dog joined them in Chikura, and kept the couple company as they did not know anyone else in their site. Sometimes, Mrs. Toyoda went to see friends in other temporary housing sites, but the travel was often difficult as her husband had to drive her from place to place. She eventually stopped going, and soon she was spending her days watching television and talking to her dog. Her husband, also lonely and depressed, began drinking every day.

Their new life was so much different than their old lives – prior to the earthquake, they had a house and a farm to take care of. Now they had nothing to do. Even though they were receiving compensation for the disaster and the loss of their home, there were not many activities to participate in. “I would dream of my hometown Odaka, and my farm and house whenever I was awake or asleep,” said Mrs. Toyoda.

In February of 2011, International Medical Corps, with Japan International Volunteer Center and the local organizations of Tsunagappe Minami-Soma and Yappe Minami-Soma, created a community space in Chikura temporary housing. At first, Mrs. Toyoda was not interested. She did not want to talk to people she did not know.

Soon after, Mrs. Toyoda received a flyer advertising a traditional folk song class called Minyo, taught by the famous local singer Sadao Sawada. Mrs. Toyoda attended the class with the intention of only listening and watching – but she realized that she enjoyed the singing and missed local music. Although she was not a very skilled singer, she enjoyed participating in Mr. Sawada’s lesson. She made friends from different districts in the town.

Ms. Dochuchi, the community space manager at Chikura said, “Mrs. Toyoda seemed kind of scared when she first came to the community space. She did not try to make friends. She often talked about the fact that she cannot go back to her district. But gradually, she became social and started to do many things here.

Mrs. Toyoda now visits the community space almost every day to visit and participate in activities. Her new friends became a close-knit group, often working on patchwork sewing. In August of 2012, Mrs. Toyoda and her friends asked the staff if they could hold an exhibition of their patchwork in the community space.  Tsunagappe staff advertised the exhibition in the city, and more than 100 people came to the community space to see the patchwork sewing. Television media came as well, broadcasting the show on both Japanese National Television and French Television.

Now, Mrs. Toyoda is a much more cheerful person. She often jokes with the volunteers, “In the temporary housing site, I don’t have to clean such a large place so living here is much easier! I was so busy farming in Odaka that I never had time to learn new things like patchwork sewing.”

International Medical Corps is proud to work with local organizations Tsunagappe Minami-Soma and Yappe Minami-Soma to provide continued relief for earthquake and tsunami victims. Providing a sense of purpose for residents empowers them, encouraging recovery for those affected by the disasters.

 

Jun 13, 2013

Our final update on the recovery in Japan

A woman outside her redone kimono shop
A woman outside her redone kimono shop

In March, we passed the two year anniversary of the devastating tsunami that rocked the Tohoku region. During that time, we reflected on the aid provided in those two years and we want to share just a few accomplishments because of you:

  • With our long-time partners Peace Winds Japan, we gave vouchers to local people instead of handing out goods and food which allowed families to buy what they really needed.
  • From the voucher program, we moved on to keep keystone industries in the area going such as reopening the dock-side fish market in Ofunato.
  • Shortly after, we provided start-up and re-employment grants which have reached more than 200 businesses and employed 1,000 people (with the help of NGO PlaNet Finance and Kesennuma Shinkin Bank). 

Live affected by the tsunami have been improved because of you. Thank you. 

Though we will continue our long term efforts in the region, we will no longer be doing a project page through GlobalGiving. If you would like to still donate to the mission of Mercy Corps through GlobalGiving, we encourage you to change lives through our Help Turn Crisis Into Opportunity project. You can also continue to follow our progress in Japan and see our other programs in the country as well. 

We are truly thankful for your generous contributions and for continuing to care two years after the catastrophe. You have helped the people of Japan get back on their feet quicker!

With gratitude,

Carlene

Links:

Jun 5, 2013

Monthly Report vol.26

Renewable Energy and Reconstruction of the Disaster Stricken Area

Two years and two months have passed since the March 11 earthquake in the northeast area of Japan or Tohoku. Simply “restoring” the area back to its former state before disaster struck is not sufficient. Reconstruction efforts need to be comprehensive and aim to tackle problems that beset the area even before the disaster, such as aging population and declining industry activities. The nuclear disaster after the earthquake offered an opportunity to also review at the energy policy of Japan, which has consistently increased its dependency on nuclear power after the World War II.

Under these circumstances, it is hoped that tapping onto renewable energy sources in the region, such as solar power, wind power and hydraulic power, could lead to increased energy self-sufficiency, prevent global warming, and perhaps even promote local industries.

Tohoku region with its abundant nature has high potential in renewable energy development. Aomori prefecture and Akita prefecture come in first and fifth respectively for having the most numbers of windmills in the whole country, evidence that they there are the forerunners in wind power generation. In addition, northeastern Japan is also an important rice-producing area in the country. Drawing on its agricultural heritage, Akita prefecture is starting to develop small hydraulic power generation systems along their irrigation channels used in farming.

More than 70 percent of the Tohoku region, an equivalent of 4.7 million hectares, is occupied by forest. The local lumbering and timber industry produces about 530 thousand tons of timber off cuts annually which could be a potential source of raw materials for woody biomass. In fact, some think tanks have proposed that forestry should be positioned as a key industry in the reconstruction efforts as it can create many jobs.

The feed-in tariff system started in July in 2012 aims to increase the use of renewable energy in Japan. Feed-in tariff refers to the amount paid by government to businesses, individual households and other organizations to generate renewable energy and the system includes other requirements such as the obligatory purchase of renewable electricity by electric power companies. Also, Special Reconstruction Act enforced in December in 2011 aims to accelerate reconstruction in the disaster-stricken areas by encouraging the local governments to develop their own plans to suit the needs and characteristics of the local communities. The act thus opens a window of opportunity for the local administrations to consider their energy security needs.

With the support from new policies and reconstruction assistance given, the private sector has begun to take on the new challenges to develop renewable energy systems. In this monthly report, we will include an article on “Green Cycle Project – Developing a sustainable forest industry and effective utilization of woody biomass”, a project Miyagi prefecture implemented as part of the Mid–to Long–Term Reconstruction Support Projects, which started in the summer of 2012.


Attachments:
Jun 5, 2013

Monthly Report vol.25

Disaster areas, tourism and reconstruction

“I would like to visit disaster areas but there is nothing I can do now. Is it alright to go there just for sightseeing?” asked one of the supporters living in Tokyo the other day.

More than two years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred on March 11, 2011. In the disaster areas, some say that it is hard to think about Tourism because there still are many serious problems to be solved, such as group relocation from the areas devastated by earthquake and tsunami, reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure, construction of coastal levees and windbreaks, preservation of architectural remains from the disaster, disposal of disaster waste and so on.

Many of the disaster areas were not tourist spots but residential areas or fishing villages, so the local residents are still puzzled to see many people from other areas visiting there.

On the other hand, one of the remarkable challenges for reconstruction is to prevent depopulation of the area, which had been progressing even before the disaster, by rediscovering the fascination of the area and attracting as many people as possible   from inside and outside of the area. For this purpose, a far-sighted tourism revitalization plan is being developed and implemented now, so that the vitality of the local communities can be maintained into the future; 5 years, 10 years and beyond. The plan is a joint effort between public and private sectors and combines various resources such as the beautiful scenery and delicacies that are peculiar to the Sanriku region, geographical connection with famous tourist sites, and relationship with volunteers, which started after the disaster.

Many shops and restaurants that were lost in the tsunami are already reopening in temporary shopping malls one after another, and towns are becoming busy again. Moreover, various efforts are being made, which include attempts to keep the memories of the disaster from fading, such as volunteer-guided tours and Kataribe Taxi, and development and sales of products using local produces and materials. [Kataribe taxi drivers take tourists to places where the scars of disaster still remain and describe what actually happened there.]

These attempts represent the feelings of the people, such as: “Please don’t forget the memories of the disaster” and “Let’s reconstruct our beautiful town once again. 

Whether or not you have visited the disaster areas before, please come and feel the air of reconstruction in progress.

In this monthly report, we will report the outcome of the Kesennuma City Strategic Meeting for Tourism, which was launched in March 2012, and the activities of Civic Force, which have been supporting the management of meetings and formulation of the strategies. [Kesennuma City in Miyagi prefecture was severely damaged by the earthquake disaster.]


Attachments:
Jun 5, 2013

Monthly Report vol.24

Two years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake.

As we continue our support activities in wide-ranging areas, we asked our supporters to send their messages, so that we can convey the thoughts and feelings of the people in the affected areas and in all other areas, in both directions.

Here are some of the many messages we have received:

Male in his 50’s, living in Tokyo:

Some time has passed since I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work in Kesennuma Oshima, but I feel that reconstruction is steadily moving forward, based on the information from volunteers in the area. I imagine that you are still having inconveniences, but I am always thinking of Kesennuma Oshima. I am trying to be of some help through advertising goods and events related to Oshima on Facebook.

Male in his 30’s, living in Miyagi:

I have hardly rested since the disaster. I have been frantically tackling whatever problem was in the way, and the going has been tough at times. But just when I am about to give up, I am always helped by the casual words of encouragement from the people who have come from other areas.

Female in her 30’s, living in Osaka:

Two years have passed since I saw those scenes through the TV screen on March 11. Ever since then, I have been searching every day for what I can do. I’ll never forget “3-11.” I can only do the little things, since I am so powerless. But I’ll continue to do whatever I can. I’m sure you are still living in hard and inconvenient conditions that we cannot even imagine, but I will always pray for your good fortunes and early recovery of Tohoku.

Two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake

Two years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.

In the disaster areas which suffered unprecedented damages, some regions are making steady progress towards recovery, as buildings such as public facilities and corporate buildings and infrastructures such as roads are being reconstructed. On the other hand, most individual victims are still living with dark shadows in their hearts, which are cast by the sorrow of losing their loved ones, homes and property or by the pain of having to live far away from their hometowns.

During these two years, we at Civic Force have provided on-site support in the disaster areas and heard the voices of many people: people who are working to create new industries in order to bring people back to their home lands, where industries have declined and depopulation is progressing; people who devote themselves to developing and promoting renewable energy; people who have committed themselves to living together with the evacuees from Fukushima who arrived immediately after the disaster; and people who regularly visit temporary housing to cheer up the elderly people by selling daily goods and holding tea parties. Witnessing the painstaking effort of these people, Civic Force has shared their spirits and supported their activities. Their words and sense of mission for reconstruction have sometimes significantly changed the views or even the life of our staff members.

Civic Force’s support activities for the Tohoku region are sustained by approximately 50,000 individuals and almost 600 corporations and organizations. A person who has been remitting 500 yen every day since the disaster; people who have supported us by utilizing their specialties such as music, art and IT skills; celebrities who have asked their fans and colleagues to make donations; people who have sent us messages because they wanted to at least convey their feelings, as they are unable to travel to the affected areas… We have been encouraged and supported by all these people and their messages, which also included critical comments at times.


Attachments:
Jun 5, 2013

Monthly Report vol.23

Resuming Support to Fukushima Evacuees

One year and eleven months have passed since the Tohoku earthquake. The population in the affected areas saw a rapid declined in the wake of the disaster, and while people are gradually returning, the population of Fukushima Prefecture has continued to decrease. According to the Reconstruction Agency, the number of people who have fled the prefecture due to the incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant has risen to 57,377 (as of January 2013).

In Yamagata Prefecture, which has accepted the most evacuees, some have been forced to lead a tough dual life between both prefectures, with only the husband remaining in Fukushima and the wife and children fleeing to Yamagata, for instance. This serious situation is expected to stretch into the future, and requires flexible support not only from national and local governments but from the private sector.

Given these circumstances, Civic Force has resumed its support of Seikatsu Club Yamagata, a project to accept people from Fukushima taking refuge in Yamagata run as an ‘NPO cooperative partner project’.

 

If you need further information, please find attached file.


Attachments:
Jun 5, 2013

Monthly Report vol.22

Osechi arrived to evacuees at temporary housing 

We respectfully offer our New Year’s greeting.

Although sustainable and substantial community reconstruction has only just begun, some disaster victims seemed to spend the New Year holidays more peacefully than last year. On December 31, 2012, disaster victims living in temporary housing compounds received osechi in a set of three stacking containers, provided by AEON Co., ltd. The box was filled with Japanese and Western foods, supervised by Zenya, a famous Japanese restaurant in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. They hoped victims could spend the New Year holidays happily and positively. A total 600 boxes were delivered by non- profit-organizations assisting local communities, including Alice Box, Peace Nature Lab, and Tree Seed to 17 temporary compounds, houses with seniors and children’s nursing homes.

Providing fancy food boxes delighted the people. One of them said “It has been too busy and upset to prepare osechi. Thank you so much”. Some people made a phone call to convey their gratitude on January 1.

Wish everyone good luck for this year.

 

What we do in hard times

Civic Force launched the “Mid- and long- term reconstruction support activities,” which focuses on support for reconstruction of disaster areas in a mid- and long-term viewpoint. Additionally, we also launched a new organization “Asia Pacific Alliance” with five Asian countries, where experience natural disasters frequently.

Meanwhile, the aftershock with a seismic intensity of a lower 5 struck the Tohoku region on December 7, 2012. The earthquake reminded us of the importance of disaster prevention and reduction.

A natural disaster strikes when people lose their memory of the previous one.

In 2013, we will make an effort to strengthen our alliance with corporations, governments and NPOs to prepare for next big scale disaster in addition to our current support activities toward Tohoku.

We cannot see the real recovery of the Japanese economy, which had stagnated for a long time. As the time has passed, not only disaster victims but also supporters are put in a tough situation. We resolve to focus on better results and more efficiency to surely support those who need help.

If you need further information, please find attahced file.


Attachments:
May 30, 2013

Protect Children's Health with Safe Water

Children receiving water at Minato Nursery School
Children receiving water at Minato Nursery School

Water is essential for life, and Japan has been proud of its abundance in water. However, after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, shortage of safe water is threatening the well-being of young children in Fukushima. The following report describes AAR’s current effort to protect health of children by providing bottled water to nurseries and kindergartens in Fukushima Prefecture. 

After the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, radiation exposure has been a serious concern for everyone living in the affected area including young children who are thought to experience larger impact by radiation. Mothers are always worried about what their children consume at home and outside. Although food comes to many people’s mind as a primary source of radiation exposure, water, not only for drinking but also for cooking, is also a critical one.

In the most part of Fukushima Prefecture, water for daily use was not something people are accustomed to paying for. Instead they used to use tap water for drinking and cooking without worry before the nuclear power plant accident. When concern about the radiation contamination in tap water arose, nurseries and kindergartens were suddenly forced to find a way to procure safe water. At any nurseries and kindergartens, plenty of water is used every day for drinking, cooking lunch and snack for children and preparing milk for infants. However, many facilities did not have a separate budget for water purchase and no extra budget was available especially in the aftermath of the earthquake - people were facing a lot of unexpected expenses. There were some nursery school staff who bought safe bottled water for children at their own expenses and some nurseries had children to bring bottled water from home. Some teachers told us that they really wished to let children drink safe water as much as they want when they are thirsty, which they took for granted for ages.

In response to this wish, AAR Japan has been providing safe bottled water to 9 nurseries and kindergartens in Soma, Minami Soma and Date City in Fukushima Prefecture. The total amount delivered reached 16,480 litters so far. It was a great pleasure for us to see children happily drinking water and more unforgettable was the facility staff’s relieved expression. They told us that although they sometimes received time-to-time water donation, they had always been anxious since the donation was not guaranteed to continue. Water is simply essential for daily living, and the fear of running out of it is horrifying. 

AAR Japan has also been supporting Yotsuba Nursery School through providing fruits for children’s lunch. Due to the concern on the radiation contamination in locally produced food, the nursery school has tried to purchase food items produced outside Fukushima Prefecture, but as they were costlier than the locally produced, this option was not financially sustainable. Hence AAR Japan decided to deliver fruits that are produced outside Fukushima Prefecture in response to the request from the nursery. Children are now able to enjoy seasonal, nutritious and safe fresh fruits for lunch. Meanwhile, this support could have more meaning - maintaining balanced diet and good eating habit at an early stage of life has a huge impact on children’s growth and future physical health. Children are eating not only for today, but also for their future.  

AAR Japan will continue the support through provision of water and fruits to nurseries and kindergartens. Let us help children and mothers in Fukushima Prefecture to maintain good health through safe water and balanced diet. 

Thank you letter from Minato Nursery School
Thank you letter from Minato Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
May 29, 2013

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: May 2013

Tohoku Newsletter Banner May 2013

NEWSUPDATES | DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES & PROGRAM NEEDS

Hello
May began with Golden Week, a collection of four national holidays spanning over a week.  This long holiday is one of the busiest holiday seasons with many taking the opportunity to travel around Japan and abroad.  With the passing of this long holiday, people are now back to their normal routines.

 

Recently we heard news of the first confirmed piece of debris from the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami arriving to the state of California.  More than 25 months after the event, the event remains present as 221,000 tons of debris is predicted to reach the west coast by this Fall.

 

At MakiBiz, a number of events have been held in the past month, along with our regular business consultations.  The Park for All project is moving forward, MakiBiz staff have participated and given a number of seminars and events, and we have launched a Request for Proposal to support small businesses.  See below for news, project updates, and opportunities! As we approach summer, temperatures are warming and becoming more comfortable.  

 

We hope you enjoy this warming weather!

 

Best,
Architecture for Humanity

 


NEWS / 

MakiBiz RFPMakiBiz Request for Proposal
MakiBiz has issued a Request for Proposal.  This program will support the rebuilding of small businesses and entrepreneurs who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.  If you are, or know of anyone in need of a construction grant to rebuild their business in Tohoku, please encourage them to apply.  Details (Japanese) can be found on the MakiBiz facebook page and on this flyer.
On the weekend of April 6-7, MakiBiz staff participated in a symposium on rebuilding titled, "Miyagi Rebuilding Voice Earthquake Disaster Rebuilding Symposium 2013: Thinking Support and Collaboration from Local Rebuilding - The voice of Kitakami, Ishinomaki."  14 organizations and individuals (including Architecture for Humanity) participated by presenting their rebuilding activities, which was followed by a round table discussion raising issues and concerns on rebuilding.  This event provided a platform for people to exchange honest opinions and thoughts around the subject.
Park for All
KYSIN-no-kai released a vision package for Park for All in the recovering village of Kamaishi.  With a different site due to issues with the previous location, the Park for All will now accompany a cluster of temporary houses and a large temporary school in a valley away from the sea.  Check out the new sketches here.

 

Housing Seminar at MakiBiz
People who lost their homes will be required to move out of their government subsidized temporary housing units and into permanent housing in the near future.  Addressing concerns and considerations people will when looking at housing options, a series of five seminars were held over the past month and a half.  Lead by our design fellow, Akinobu, these seminars were held free and open to the public at our MakiBiz office.  Look forward to a more detailed report to come!

DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES & PROGRAM NEEDS /  [Japanese]



TOHOKU PROJECT STATUS REPORT /

In Progress

Park for All - SD

Completed

Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" /  - Completed Feb/2013
Maeami-hama Community House /  - Completed Feb/2013
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center /  - Completed Dec/2012
Akahama Covered Alley / - Completed Jul/2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative / - Completed Jul/2012
Paper Crane Sculpture /  - Completed Jan/2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku /  - Completed Dec/2011
Ohya Green Sports Park /  - Completed Dec/2011
Hikado Marketplace /  - Completed Jul/2011


CA Construction Administration / ; CD Construction Documents / ; DD Design Development / ; SD Schematic Design / ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases

May 28, 2013

O-Link House Opening Ceremony

O-Link House is Open!
O-Link House is Open!

On April 14, 2013 under a bright blue sky, we cut the ribbon to officially christen and open the O-Link House in Ogatsu.  Thanks to the generosity of so many donors, including our special GlobalGiving donations and the matching programme, Hands On Tokyo was able to support the full construction cost, landscaping and furnishing of the O-Link House, the only newly constructed building in the district.  We would like to relay the tremendous gratitude of the people of this tiny district of Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture that was so heavily impacted by the earthquake and resulting events of March 11, 2011 (the Events).  

Background of Ogatsu Community Center Project:

Prior to the Events, Ogatsu had a population of 4,300 of which over 400 residents lost their lives or are still missing, and, due to the significant damage suffered by the district, only 900 survivors live there today.  A significant cause of this negative demographic impact is the loss of much of the critical municipal infrastructure necessary for daily life, such as the grocery stores, restaurants, petrol stands, and civil support (police, fire, postal, medical, etc).  Further, with ca. 90% of the homes in Ogatsu, damaged or destroyed, much of the little town is now designated a no-build zone, with limited space for temporary housing, which resulted in nearly three-quarters of the population evacuating out of Ogatsu, where they remain to this day.  A plan is proposed to move the town to higher ground, but it remains unclear whether residents will come back to an area that was already suffering from an aging and declining population even before the earthquake.

As such, many survivors continue to live with uncertainty about their future. One of the biggest concerns is the tendency of the uprooted elderly, especially those living alone, to become isolated living in unfamiliar surroundings.  The vision for the community center is to become a resource for the broader city of Ishinomaki and attract all ages beyond Ogatsu residents.  

Through a generous donation of building materials from Intercontinental Trading Corp., Hands On Tokyo found a means to try to support the people of Ishinomaki.  With further support from US-Japan Council and Major League Baseball Players Association, and countless locals, Hands On Tokyo (HOT) undertook to manage this important construction project.  HOT organized and managed over [400] volunteers to support the construction of the facility lead managed by a professional contractor sourced by HOT in the town of Ogatsu. 

O-Link House will house a café and library, a space for the preservation of industry and traditional culture (e.g., fishing and inkstone handcrafts), and a study and recreation space for all ages of people who live around Ogatsu as well as visitors from outside Ishinomaki-City.  HOT is also committed to the long-term support of survivors and will continue to develop and implement volunteer-driven programs that utilize this precious resource in Ogatsu. 

May 24, 2013

Drones

We're just back from our 2nd hackathon of the year. We're trying to do each hackathon in a different city so that it's accessible to different people each time. In January we met in Tokyo, and last month we met in Boston (Cambridge actually, with the support of MIT). In January we spent a week working on anything and everything and while we got a lot done, admittedly it was a bit chaotic. For this event we wanted to focus the efforts a little more while still addressing a number of issues.

We decided to begin work on the "Safecast Air Force" or drone program as the focal point for this.

Drones are interesting for a number of obvious reasons, but for our purposes if we have a device that we can send out with any number of sensors onboard that can scan an area that is unsafe or unnavigable - that's huge. So that's what we focused on for the week. In doing so, it allowed us to think about how to made our sensors a bit more modular (swap out radiation for air quality, etc), how best to transfer data (keep onboard, or broadcast - using SMS or wifi, etc) and how to display data taking at altitude in relation to data taking at ground level.

All serious issues outside of the context of a drone, but within it that much more interesting. Which can be important with a volunteer team. :)

We started the week with nothing and by the end of the week had a drone with a bGeigie attached logging data as it flew. We tried a number of different off the shelf drone platforms and made quite some progress in deciding which direction we'd continue to work. There are a number of videos of our test flights that you can watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/levisimons

All in all it was a very productive hackathon. As always, stay tuned to our blog and mailing lists for more regular updates as they happen. Thanks!

May 10, 2013

Special Learning Programs for Tohoku Children

Making Easter Baskets!
Making Easter Baskets!

 

As a new school semester and fiscal year began in April, children's homes in Tohoku held a series of new-year meetings and parties. Additionally, junior high school children recently took entrance exams for high schools and although many homes have been struggling to study for these exams under their difficult circumstances, a few learning support programs are continuing to show encouraging progress.  The following programs have transpired thanks to our tremendous GlobalGiving donor community. The first, a school studies support program that has been running now for 6 months, has received considerable praise from a home in Iwate prefecture.  The second program was held at a home in Fukushima prefecture, offering the kids a chance to unwind with a special “Hanami” party along with a learning activity that tapped into their creative talents!

 

Learning Support --- Iwate Prefecture

This home is located in an area seriously affected by the tsunami.  While all of the children and staff were safe, many of their family members, relatives and friends were sadly victims.  Since the disaster, Living Dreams has provided this home with material support, camp programs, gifts during the Christmas season, and learning support programs.

As is the case in many children's homes, the decline in academic performance is a serious problem at the home.  Many homes tackle this issue with the help of student volunteers from their local universities.  This home used to have regular volunteers as well. Since 3/11, as the railway lines remain out of service, their local station is still closed, which made it difficult for them to secure consistent student volunteers. As a result, Living Dreams teamed up with a local cram school and arts program, providing kids with learning programs for those needing to improve basic academic skills, as well as a special calligraphy program for those children who face intellectual disabilities.  

As a result, 75% of the children have improved their results, and all 5 junior high school children passed high school entrance tests this past March! Home staff members have also noticed that children are taking more notes in school, which means their focus levels in the classroom are improving! The children who attended calligraphy class were commended for their achievements in front of many people, which truly boosted their confidence.  Instructors noticed how the children enjoyed each session, developing a sincere interest in this old tradition. 

 

 Easter/Hanami Party --- Fukushima Prefecture

In April, one of our Living Dreams team members organized a group of 35 people including both foreigners and locals, to help host an Easter/Hanami event at a home in Fukushima prefecture.

The morning started off with a two-hour art workshop where they taught the kids how to make and decorate Easter baskets. After the craft session, they had a Hanami lunch outside and played with the kids. During lunch, a group of volunteers hid 400 chocolate/plastic eggs around the home for a post-lunch scavenger hunt. The volunteers also shared a brief Easter PowerPoint presentation for the kids to explain the origins and significance of Easter and how it is celebrated in foreign countries. As this home continues to deal with the impact of the nuclear power plant catastrophe, being able to enjoy outdoor activities is still considered a luxury.  Further, simply having volunteers who want to visit their home and share special programs is something the home is incredibly grateful to have for their children.

 

We thank all of our donors around the world who have truly helped make lives brighter in Tohoku!

"fledgling"
"fledgling"
Surprise visit from the Easter Bunny!
Surprise visit from the Easter Bunny!
Easter Presentation
Easter Presentation
Art Workshop
Art Workshop
May 1, 2013

Our Progress over the Past 2 years: Activity Report

Delivering chocolates with the message of support
Delivering chocolates with the message of support

The Great East Japan Earthquake: Two years on from the earthquake disaster

- an activity report of the progress to date

Building on its extensive experience in providing international emergency relief, the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has continued its relief activities to support the survivors in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In cooperation with the government and disabled people’s organizations, AAR has utilized its refined mobility as an NGO to continue its relief efforts to those in areas that are difficult to reach. Together with expressing our heart-felt gratitude to the individuals, corporations and organisations that have supported AAR Japan, this report entails our endeavours over the  last two years.

 

1. Emergency Response  - Life-Saving Emergency Relief

a. First assistance team dispatched to the disaster area:

2011/3/13

Immediately after the earthquake, our relief team made initial assessments and distributed relief supplies around the disaster stricken areas.

  

b. Delivery of Relief Supplies:

To 180,000 individuals in 1,606 locations

Drawing from our experience in overseas disaster relief that persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly are prone to be overlooked during a disaster, AAR Japan implemented its activities focusing on these two population groups. Adult diapers and retort food were well received at social welfare facilities.

 

 c. Soup Kitchens

25,000 meals in 73 locations

Soup kitchens were organized in our wish to cheer up the disaster survivors with hot meals. Menus were well planned-out so that they were rich in variety and had a fresh taste of the changing seasons.

 

d. Mobile Clinic and Health-Related Service

Recipients of medical check-ups:   817 individuals

Recipients of home-care nurse visit:   387 individuals

AAR Japan organized mobile clinics with a medical team led by Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA, a local medical practitioner, and implemented health-related services including check-ups for chronic illnesses, prevention of infectious diseases, and provision of psychological support through counseling.

In addition to medical check-ups, AAR Japan staff members lent their ears to survivors who carry concerns like their daily worries toward their future and desperate need for supplies. One beneficiary commented, “I was so happy to have people come to my house on multiple occasions and be so concerned about my health condition. Having people recognize my existence gave me strength.”

 

2. Recovery Support - Reclaiming Their Daily Lives

a. Delivery of Daily Essentials to Victims in Fukushima Prefecture

To 22,599 families

Daily essentials including kitchenware and basic furniture were distributed to all households in temporary and subsidized housing complexes across 13 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.

 

b. Reconstruction of Facilities for the Elderly and PWDs

 

71 locations

AAR Japan conducted reconstruction of facilities for PWDs and senior care centers, and provision of necessary equipment in cooperation with local contractors. This helped the PWDs in disaster areas reunite with their fellow colleagues and resume their former activities and job.

AAR Japan assisted construction of a new bread factory at ‘Hakku no Ie’, a workshop for PWDs in Tanohata Village, Iwate Prefecture. The factory has a dine-in space that serves fresh baked goods and is popular among the local community.

 

c. Vehicle Provision to Facilities for PWDs, Senior Care Centers, and Local Municipal Offices

42 vehicles

Assistive and standard vehicles were provided to facilities and local municipal offices throughout the Tohoku region to be used for pick-up and drop-off services for facility users and as a means of transportation for those partaking in recovery efforts.

 

d. Container Housing Project

57 containers provided

AAR Japan provided prefabricated container houses which can be used as both residence and shops.

 

4. Reconstruction Support - For a New Tomorrow

a. Reconstruction of Facilities for the Elderly and PWDs

38 locations

Many facilities for PWDs were damaged by the earthquake. These facilities offered vocational training and employment to those who have difficulty working in private companies; however, as a result of the earthquake disaster, these facilities were lost. By conducting activities such as repairing these facilities for PWDs or supplying the necessary equipment for work, AAR Japan assists PWDs in reclaiming their workplace.

 

b. Sales Fair of Products of Social Welfare Facilities

Number of fairs organized: 27

Many workshops have come to restart production of sweets and crafts, however, the sales have decreased at many facilities since existing customers themselves are affected by the disaster. In order to help these facilities explore new sales channels, AAR Japan organizes sales fairs at companies in Tokyo and encourages these facilities to participate in joint fairs held at shopping centers in Morioka and Sendai. We also support the development of new products.

 

c: Hosting of Community Interaction Events

Rehabilitation and active listening: 132 times

Community interaction events: 129 events

In order to help the affected people maintain both their physical and mental health, AAR Japan has organized various events under the title ‘Building Healthy Communities Project’. Events combining programs such as rehabilitation, concerts and active listening are held regularly at temporary housing complexes. We also facilitate farming activities at small-scale gardens in order to promote neighborhood interaction through gardening.

 

d. For Children in Fukushima Prefecture

Installment and Provision of Playground Equipment: in 45 locations

Delivery of Bottled Water to Nurseries and Kindergartens:  9 locations/11,440 liters

AAR Japan has assisted in creating play areas where children can relieve their stress and solve the problem of lack of exercise that are developed from living in cramped temporary housing complexes. This includes setting up large-scale playground equipment within the premises of the temporary housing complexes and supplying indoor play toys to places such as assembly halls and day care facilities. Furthermore, in response to the concerns of mothers who are worried about radiation in drinking water, bottles of mineral water are also being provided to preschools in Fukushima Prefecture.

 

e. Walking Side by Side with People in Fukushima

Staff members of AAR Japan’s Soma office continues to visit every residence in temporary housing complexes to carefully listen to the concerns of each resident.

Ekuko Yokoyama, a staff member of Soma office makes rounds every day to talk to those who have confronted loss of family members and face uncertainty about the future.

  

f. Distribution of Radiation Dosimeters

11 devices delivered

To measure the contamination level of outdoor-grown harvests and food items that they consume daily, radiation dosimeters were installed at support centers of temporary housing complexes and public halls in Soma City.

 

  

g. Delivering Kindness from Across the Country

Hand-made tote bags delivered   10,543 bags

Chocolate   4,843 boxes

Flower seedlings   1,603 pots 

In response to suggestions made by the disaster survivors that a tote bag would be useful when going to school or to organize relief supplies that were provided, a large number of handmade bags with messages attached were donated after a nation-wide call out for their creation. (Bags collected in April 2011, October 2011 and September 2012).

Several people also contributed to the “Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign” where messages of support from the public were attached to boxes of AAR Japan’s charity chocolate (with cooperation from the Rokkatei Confectionary Co., Ltd.) and delivered to the disaster areas. There were those who shed tears when they received the message, “We have not forgotten about you”.  (Messages collected: Winter 2011-2012 and Winter 2012-2013).

In the spring of 2012, AAR Japan commenced the “Delivering Flowers and Magokoro (literally translated as sincerity) Campaign” that aimed to send flowers to brighten up the disaster-stricken areas. Purchasing potted plants from florists and facilities for PWDs in the disaster areas, they were then individually delivered to places such as temporary housing complexes, each with a message attached.

 

h. For a Healthy Living

In cooperation with the Morioka City’s municipal office and Morioka Municipal Hospital, AAR Japan implements activities to promote the health of people living in the coastal areas of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. People living in cramped temporary housing are prone to suffer from lack of exercise that could lead to economy syndrome and disuse syndrome. A medical team makes visits to temporary housing complexes to conduct prevention screening and workshop for exercise to counter these diseases.

 

i. Improving the Welfare System for PWDs in the Disaster Areas

5 staff members dispatched for 51 cumulative months

In cooperation with the local government and other organizations, AAR Japan addresses issues surrounding the welfare system for PWDs in the disaster areas. In Iwate Prefecture, 4 staff members were temporarily dispatched to the regional centers of the “Iwate Disability and Welfare Recovery and Relief Center”. Creating manuals for emergency evacuations and gaining a deeper understanding of the actual conditions of the disaster survivors with disabilities are examples of the work that is being conducted. In Miyagi Prefecture, AAR Japan has dispatched one staff member to the “Miyagi Prefecture Ikuseikai”. Focusing on Minami-Sanriku Town, this project has continued with repairs of areas in which children with disabilities can play after school and during the summer holidays.

 

Help Survivors to Make a New Start

There is still a lot of work to do in the disaster-hit areas of Japan! If you would like to help us provide long-term assistance to the earthquake and tsunami survivors, please consider making a monthly donation to one of the above projects. Every donation (be it one-time or recurring) is truly appreciated.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Your AAR Japan Project Team

 

====

Check our other activities on http://www.aarjapan.gr.jp/english/ !

==== 

AAR
AAR's first assistance team in Kesennuma City
Vehicle provided to a facility for PWDs
Vehicle provided to a facility for PWDs
'Work Follow Otsuchi', workshop for PWDs, repaired
a member of hand-craft circle Tsugihagi-Suppe-cha
a member of hand-craft circle Tsugihagi-Suppe-cha
People at the community interaction event
People at the community interaction event
Apr 25, 2013

One more project to help fishery in Tohoku

Endo-san @ Shizugawa Fishing Cooperatives
Endo-san @ Shizugawa Fishing Cooperatives

Dear GlobalGiving PWA Fishery Project Supporters:

In my previous report, we announced the end of the Fisheries Support GlobalGiving Project, however, just as we put the report online we were contacted by the Fishing Cooperative in Shizugawa, Minamisanriku, who asked PWA to help them with building a windshield fence for their Oyster Processing facility to improve their working environment. PWA answered the call, and we wanted to report this activity to you.  We are very happy that we were able to respond and be involved in this project as PWA has been working so closely with Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative for the past two years.

 

 

Important Livelihood:

Oyster farming is a primary fishing industry in Minamisanriku. Before the tsunami, there were 43 oyster-farming families who brought in about 12 percent of the total fishing revenue of the Shizugawa Cooperative.

Processed oysters (those with their shells removed, then cleaned and packaged) are heavily favored by Japanese consumers. However processing requires a specialized facility with sterilization equipment and skilled labor. In spite of the these production costs, since processed oysters command a much higher market price, the net value to the farmer is considerably more than oysters in the shell.

The tsunami destroyed not only oyster farming/harvesting equipment, but also all the processing facilities in Shizugawa.  In 2011, oyster farmers lost the sales income of processed oysters, as the farmers were unable to rebuild and start the processing facility.

Secure employment for women:

Oyster farming and harvesting is typically done by men.  Oyster processing is primarily done by women, and provides them with an income opportunity rare in the Minamisanriku region.  Currently there are 23 women working at the processing facility.  

Adapt to the new environment:

The oyster season begins in October and runs through the frigid winter ending in May.  Winter processing is especially severe. The high winds created an unexpected issue for the workers at this new facility. Before the 3/11 disaster, the destroyed processing facility was situated among multi-story buildings, but now the new facility is close to the mouth of a river, with no buildings near.  Strong, cold mountain winds follow the river’s course and directly strike the factory and the workers.  Due to food hygiene regulations, heaters cannot be used while processing oysters.  People working at this facility suffer from freezing wind.

In order to resolve these intolerable working conditions, Shizugawa Fishing Cooperatives addressed the need of the windshield and PWA supported the project financially.

Voice from a beneficiary:

Head of Oyster Group, Katsuhiko Endo

"Thank you very much for constructing the wind shield. It is really helpful, and will aid us immensely as we shell the oysters. Although It is gradually getting warm during the day, the temperature in the early morning, when we are shelling oysters, is still very cold. Today's temperature in the morning was 3 degrees Celsius. We are still happy the shield is now ready, as there are also many windy days in April.  In the coming fall, we will be ready to start or work for the next season. We will do our best,"

This facility and windbreak will function for ten years or more, aiding particularly the livelihoods of women and contributing to Minamisanriku’s economy and well-being. 

Thank you GlobalGiving supporters!

Oyster Processing Facility without wind shield
Oyster Processing Facility without wind shield
Inside of the Oyster Processing Facility
Inside of the Oyster Processing Facility
No more cold gusty winds!  Wind shield completed!
No more cold gusty winds! Wind shield completed!

Links:

Apr 11, 2013

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

At a temple, after the silent prayer at 2:46 p.m.
At a temple, after the silent prayer at 2:46 p.m.

Project

Relief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake.

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during Jan, Feb & Mar, 2013.


On March 11, memorial ceremonies for all the disaster dead sponsored by local governments or temples were held across disaster afflicted areas.  "Prayer Balloon", a memorial service, was held at Fuseiji temple in Kama district, located at the west end of Ishinomaki and in the north part of Ishinomaki Kougyou port.


Those gathered said their prayers watching balloons rising up into the sky. Many of them seemed to have been reunited with each other after a long interval. Kama district has two sub districts; Shimo-Kama and Kami-Kama. Nakayashiki area in Kami-Kama is where JEN has worked on serving Soup Kitchen for the people evacuated in their own half damaged house during the emergency phase, after that, setting up and running a community cafe ever since to establish the good friendship in cooperation with many local people and volunteers.

It was Kami-Kama Recovery Council where neighborhood associations, local government authorities and consultants work out a recovery plan together that was established last fall.


Issues such as how to readjust land have been under discussion. JEN has been supporting the district's efforts in various ways.

JEN is committed to continuing to encourage local people to take the initiative in developing their own area just as last fall's creation of a flowerbed.


[Community Reconstruction:Volunteer activities]

This year's first volunteering!


~ From Abroard ~

On January 12, 2013, JEN Tohoku (located in Ishinomaki City) carried out this year's first volunteer activity. This time, we had as many as thirty-seven volunteers including students at the Harvard business school and individuals.


Volunteers cleaned side ditches next to the greenhouses. There still remained sludge in the bottom of the side ditches. These greenhouses were once fully-destroyed by the tsunami, but the farmer who owns them reconstructed at the same place last autumn after working on the rented land in a different area. He says he is going to grow cucumbers in the greenhouses from this spring.

After working and sweating together, what was waiting for them was rice cake making party. Students got excited at their first-time mochi pounding. Fishermen from Higashihama in the Oshika peninsula, who are also victims of the disaster, joined to serve them their speciality: Oyster Soup, and so volunteers had a party time socializing with local farmers, fishermen, and JEN staff members.


JEN will continue to stay in exchange projects that provide both disaster victims and volunteers opportunities to interact each other, accepting volunteers in 2013.



~ From High School in Tokyo ~

On January 13 and 14, "the Ishinimaki-Nichi-Nichi Shinbun's cup soccer event for boys and girls from the primery school, co-hosted by Meiji University affiliated Meiji High as part of its centennial events" took place.

Fourteen teams from around the city of Ishinomaki took part in the two-day event. This was the final event for sixth-year students. JEN worked on preparing for the event and keeping it running smoothly along with Ishinomaki Nichi Nichi Shinbun, Meiji High School and the Ishinomaki Football Association that organized the event.

Meiji High School soccer club members volunteered to run the whole event serving as referees, time keepers, scores and so forth. And students other than the members of the soccer club volunteered to cook "Imoni", a famous local specialty of Miyagi Prefecture---a hot-broth, contains potato, vegetables and meat---being guided by JEN staff members. That is not only entertaining participants, but also a drill in preparing meals outdoors allowing for a possible disaster.

One of students in the second year said "I'm looking forward to the next time. I want to keep up the activity.", showing a willingness to continue the activity.


Meiji University affiliated Meiji High School is going to co-host the event over the next five years. JEN continues to work on a variety of exchange events, strengthening the collaboration with organizations and enterprises at home and abroad.

Locals and HBS Students  are unwinding after work.
Locals and HBS Students are unwinding after work.
At freezing cold football field in Onagawa city.
At freezing cold football field in Onagawa city.

Links:

Apr 10, 2013

Updates of our Tohoku Support Program.

Kizuna Concert 1
Kizuna Concert 1

<Kizuna Concert in Otsuchi 2013>

 On March 17th, 2013, “Kizuna Concert in Otsuchi 2013” was held in Shiroyama Gymnasium in Otsuchi, Iwate. This is the sequel to the concert held in Okayama and Hiroshima in March 2012. When the first concert was held last spring, Otsuchi High School brass band and Shujitsu High School brass band exchanged music sessions, and built new friendship. AMDA High School Club took part in organizing the concert in Okayama. The high school students had promised then that they will visit Otsuchi in the future. After a year-long planning, their dream came true.

For full story, please see the attached report. 

Thank you for your continued support to the next generation of Tohoku, Japan.


Attachments:
Apr 1, 2013

Struggling to Redevelop the Isatomae Community

Tent Shop Functioning as a Storage
Tent Shop Functioning as a Storage

Presently, a mountain school providing nature training to children is the only user of our tent shop, located in the mountain side of Isatomae in Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi Prefecture. During Winter, this school is now closed, due to extremely cold weather even on the coast side. But the tent is still functioning as storage for keeping goods to be sold at the Fukko Temporary Shops down close to the ocean side. Since a new community will be built right next to the tent, it will be again used as a community center in Isatomae, though it could be several years later when the community construction will be completed.

Now, since the population is declining, efforts are made to bring tourists to Isatomae in order to boost the economic activities of the Temporary Shops. They have organized diverse events with very limited funding, such as a Mountain Bike show, and brought several music bands (Gypsy Punk Jazz, Jiki Jiki, etc.). One of their magnificent achievements was to collect flags of J.League Professional Soccer Teams (in Japan). Since they were very successful in soliciting supports from Japanese professional soccer teams, they decided to challenge a Guinness record, whose video is attached to this report. They do continuously create such events not only to bring visitors from outside, but also to keep their motivations high. DSIA made some proposals to organize business activities, but these talks are not advancing well, since they require some initial investment and risk taking. Given this situation, donations from the GlobalGiving are deeply appreciated, especially because the feeling of being supported remains important to keep their motivations high.

Sincerely yours,

Yoshitaka Okada

J.League Professional Soccer Team Flagas
J.League Professional Soccer Team Flagas

Links:

Mar 13, 2013

Monthly Report vol.21

Monthly Report vol.21

Review Civic Force’s Tohoku support activities

"I had been working in Tokyo, but returned to my hometown after the earthquake disaster. I must do something, when people from other regions are working so hard for my hometown." (A man in his 20’s who is participating in a community development project) [NPO Partner Project]

 "I have a fear of trying something new, but above all, I feel an utmost sense of mission." (A man in his 40’s who started up a renewable energy business)[Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Project]

 "There are unique ways of local revitalization which only young people can achieve." (A man who works on community development)  [NPO Partner Project]

" The key to reconstruction is how much power we can bring in from the outside." (A man in his 30’s who is working strenuously on industry restoration) [NPO Partner Project]

 "We can change clothes here and practice again! I hope that, someday, someone from this sea of rubble will become a world-class yachtsman." (A high school student who uses a trailer as a Yacht club room) [Multi-Purpose Mobile Bases Project]

 " I stopped eating lunch out and make my own lunch now. I donate the money savedfrom this every day." [From “Just Giving,” a donation website]

 "While some of the support projects are unilateral and intrusive, we really appreciate those people who participate in the reconstruction efforts while standing on the same level as us. (A municipal employee in his 40’s in a disaster area) [Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Project]

 "People here are so strong and kind, even though they suffered from such a disaster. They said to me, “Please come back,” so I came back again." (A female student who repeatedly participates in community rebuilding tours in disaster areas) [NPO Partner Project]

 "There was less rubble and the roads were paved nicely, compared to right after the earthquake. I could really feel the reconstruction in progress while I ran in Oshima." (A woman in her 30’s who ran in the “Kesennuma-Oshima Run Festa”)

 "Strong private initiative is needed to make tourism a solid industry and a key factor in the reconstruction efforts. We would appreciate a little more help." (Head of the disaster-affected municipality) [Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Project]

 "I almost lost the will to live many times, but I have somehow made it until now, thanks to interacting with all of you." (A man in his 30s in his greetings to employee volunteers)  [Employee Volunteer Dispatch Project]

 "If we can achieve certain results on prior investment for growth, we can use it as a model for community revitalization to energize the whole nation. [An adviser to the Tohoku Public Benefit Investment Fund]

 "The large, 397-ton ferry provided a very precious space where citizens could relax." (President of a shipping company at the ceremony of returning a rented ferry)  [Car Ferry Operation Project]

 "Our mission is to offer quality support to meet the various needs of disaster victims in coordination with companies, local governments, and local communities, by placing importance on the viewpoint of each victim."  [Civic Force]

 If you need further information, please find attachment and our website(www.civic-force.org/english).


Attachments:
Mar 15, 2013

Last day to have your donations matched! See the difference you've made!

Mr. Nagashima hard at work in his new bakery
Mr. Nagashima hard at work in his new bakery

Thank you so much for all the support you have given to the citizens of Japan. Their stories of survival and struggle are harrowing, but their spirit and dedication to resuming their lives and businesses are inspiring. We want to share with you a couple of stories to show how your contribution has made an impact.

Much like anywhere, the key to reviving these communities was to jump-start its small business sector. Through our partnership with PlaNet Finance and generous donors such NVIDIA and people like you, we have been able to provide financial tools to small business owners, help them re-open their doors, provide jobs within their community and restore badly needed flow of goods and services

For instance, Ryota Nagashima - a bakery-owner from Minamisanriku, lost everything in the tsunami. While living in a temporary shelter, Mr. Nagashima spotted a bag of donated flour and immediately had an idea to make pancakes for his fellow shelter dwellers. Mr. Nagashima, with support from a Mercy Corps grant, reopened his bakery and hired two full-time positions. Today he is again famous for his creations, and his shop and products have drawn tourists from all over the country.

Then there is the story of Tsutomu Onodera - a former fish merchant whose business, along with the entire fishery infrastructure perished in the tsunami. Driven to help restart this vital product supply chain, Mr. Onodera, with the help of the re-employment grant from NVIDIA started a co-op fresh food market where small vendors gather to sell their produce and fish.

Ryota Nagashima's and Tsutomu Onodera's businesses are two examples of the 219 enterprises that this Mercy Corps program has reached - because of you - totaling over 2,600 people. But most importantly, 100% of the businesses that we have supported are still in business. At this rate, we plan to keep granting to businesses through 2014!

We could not do this long-term rebuilding without donors like you, so thank you! This is the last day to have your donations matched by Global Giving at 100%. Help us double the impact for the people of Japan and the rebuilding of their businesses. 

With gratitude,

Carlene Deits

The co-op fresh food market
The co-op fresh food market

Links:

Mar 11, 2013

Two Years Since The Earthquake and Tsunami

International Medical Corps’ work in Japan continues.

  • International Medical Corps is prioritizing support for Fukushima’s evacuee-children. Through partner IVY, we are supporting the first day care center for children of displaced families. The majority of IVY caretakers are themselves evacuee-mothers from Fukushima. We also worked with Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR) to install playground equipment for the Gangoya Temporary Housing Complex, which is home to 264 families.
  • One major area of need identified by local organizations was the lack of places where displaced residents could go to alleviate feelings of anxiety and loneliness. International Medical Corps is supporting partners JVC, Shapla Neer and The People to run community spaces throughout Fukushima Prefecture where evacuees can meet other evacuees, receive psychological support and critical information about available resources, and take part in recreational workshops and activities.

On March 11thGlobal Giving is matching donations to International Medical Corps’ Japan programming two-to-one! Your generous donation will be tripled, providing three times the impact and three times the results in regions of Japan still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami.

Your gift will build community centers and daycares, providing key meeting areas for affected populations that need places for support. Your gift will also support long-term disaster preparedness planning throughout Japan, bringing together the Japanese government, local Japanese organizations, and international non-governmental organizations for an integrated, holistic approach to preparing for the next disaster.

Your dollars make a difference, especially on March 11th. Please donate and help Japan’s recovery.

Mar 11, 2013

Build Back Better Tohoku 2 year anniversary report

Build Back Better Tohoku: Two Year Anniversary

Architecture for Humanity is collaborating with local design and construction professionals to reconstruct the northern Japan region where the earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. Any community would have been devastated by such a disaster – Japan was better prepared than most. However, it is in the event of disaster that communities need assistance in rebuilding. Through our network of local design and construction professionals we are providing technical expertise to help build back better Tohoku.

Tohoku Program Map

 

As the first year response, we started our program by listening. We enlisted design fellows from Tohoku to ask the locals directly what they needed. By listening to them and reacting swiftly to their needs, we built trusting relationships with communities. This was a very important step for us as a foreign NPO (Non-Profit Organization) before discussion of rebuilding could begin. Programs such as Honyaquake and Road Home were our responses to immediate needs.

We have completed 11 in the 2 years that have past since the disaster, and currently have several more in design or under development. The following is the list of reconstruction projects that we have been working on. There were many bumps on our way, from typical bureaucratic issues to post-disaster stress within some communities, but our goal has always been the same: to rebuild sustainable communities and economies in Tohoku.

Although this was an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude, it was certainly not the first time Tohoku suffered from a tsunami. Their resiliency will help the reconstruction of the region. Architecture for Humanity is honored to be able to support such an endeavor, and would like to continue working alongside the community every step of the way.

 

PROGRAM AREAS | VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS | COMPLETED PROJECTS | CURRENT PROJECTS | WHAT'S NEXT | HOW TO HELP | TOHOKU REBUILDING TEAM 2012 | THANK YOU


PROGRAM AREAS

URBAN ACUPUNCTURE

In the same way that one acupuncture needle can influence the overall health of a body, we believe a single key project can work to create a positive ripple effect to aid the entire affected community in its recovery process.

Our focus lies on three branches of community reconstruction (access to sports, education and welfare, and economic development).

Access to Sports

Providing access to sports through the built environment is of strong initial importance in the recovery process, as it aids in rebuilding ties between individuals and promotes physical and mental health.

Education and Welfare

As children and elderly are vulnerable portions of the population, there is a need to reconstruct spaces for children to learn and play, and elderly to socialize and obtain the resources they require in every day life. 

Economic Development

A number of financial lifelines - engines that allow communities to become self-reliant, were devastated by the tsunami.  Helping local businesses recover, open, create jobs, and collectively provide a financial future is essential in building back better.

 


 

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Kitakami "We    Are One"                              Tour Designing the answer



 

COMPLETED PROJECTS

Ohya Green Sports Park

Ohya Green Sports Park
Kesennuma, Miyagi
completion date:  2012.04
a sports park donated by coach Nofu to children who lost their play space due to the tsunami.

 

Shizugawa Judo Juku (

Shizugawa Judo Juku
Shizugawa, Minamisanrikucho, Miyagi
completion date:  2011.12
a temporary local judo center for elementary, junior high, and high school students that has trained 2 prefectural champions

 

Maeami-hama Community House (

Maeami-hama Community House
Maeami-hama, Miyagi
completion date:  2013.02
a community house designed using an innovative building technique,  in a town where only five out of forty houses survived

 

Paper Crane Sculpture ()

Paper Crane Sculpture
Sendai, Miyagi
completion date:  2012.01
2,000,000 cranes folded by students from 38 countries were sent to their Japanese peers and assembled into a large sculpture

 

Akahama Covered Alley

Akahama Covered Alley
Otsuchi-cho, Kamihei-gun, Iwate
completion date: 2012.07 
a covered alley connecting the lower and upper units of a temporary housing complex, encourages resident interaction

 

Kitakami Community House

Kitakami Community House
Kitakami, Ishinomaki, Miyagi
completion date: 2012.12
a place for residents to shop for fresh produce, and a safe place for mothers to work while they watch their children play after school

 

Hikado Market Place

Hikado Market Place
Motoyoshi, Kesennuma, Miyagi
completion date: 2011.06
a covered wooden deck made of salvaged timber from the tsunami, where community members gather to enjoy food and drinks

 

Oshika House

Oshika House
Ayukawahama, Ishinomaki, Miyagi
completion date: 2012.07
a space for the women's group of Oshika Peninsula Fishing Union to contribute to rebuilding back their village better and stronger

 

Shizugawa Banya

Shizugawa "Banya"
Shizugawa, Minamisanriku-cho, Miyagi
completion date:  2013.02
a workplace and warehouse ("Banya") for a group of 15 fishermen collaborating to rebuild a collective aquafarming business

 

MakiBiz

MakiBiz
Ishinomaki, Miyagi
completion date:  2012.11
as our first regional office in Japan, MakiBiz seeks to help small businesses in Tohoku rebuild and recover

 


 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Park for All Kamaishi

Park for All in Kamaishi
Kamaishi, Iwate
completion date:  2013
a park and clubhouse surrounded by the nature of Kamaishi, where children can enjoy sports activities.  Built in collaboration with KYSIN-no-kai

 


 

WHAT'S NEXT?

The tsunami did not differentiate between large and small businesses. In Ishinomaki alone, we do know that a total of 1,749 SMEs were affected, resulting in the loss of 472,000 million yen in profits and the loss of 18,000 jobs. Of these, 6,024 jobs lost were in the construction sector.

MakiBiz Helps SMEs

MakiBiz MAKOTO WorkshopRecovery from disaster requires a holistic approach. Disaster survivors require access to a wide range of services, including counseling, education, training, construction and design. The integration of construction services with business support services is key to the long-term economic recovery of the region. We opened our first regional office in Japan - "MakiBiz," which seeks to help small businesses in the Tohoku region rebuild and recover. MakiBiz provides design, construction, and business development referral services to the community of Ishinomaki in support of their efforts to build back better.

Unfunded Projects

Your donation will help fund the following projects we haven't been able to support financially, and many others in the future. 

Two years have past, but the communities still need help from donors.


Tokura Earthblock Workshop: estimated cost = $15,000

Kazuma Youth Center: estimated cost = $100,000

Hanahama "Costa de la flor": estimated cost = $150,000

Osaka Community Photo Studio: estimated cost = $200,000

 


 

HOW TO HELP

We're partcipating in a special Japan Matching Campaign for a limited time!  Donations TRIPLED on the 11th, DOUBLED until the 15th!  Please DONATE TODAY and help us help communities in Tohoku for another year.

 

Japan Matching Campaign


donate

 

 


 

TOHOKU REBUILDING TEAM 2012

Staff

Program Lead: Eric Cesal Program Manager: Michael Steiner Program Coordinator: Hiromi Tabei Regional Program Manager: Shogo Marukawa Design Fellows: Takaharu Saito, Akinobu Yoshikawa, Toru Nakaki, Yuko Okamura Business Coordinator: Miku Kano

Architects

Aida Atelier, Doogs Design, Hiroyuki Teshima, Japan Institute of Architects Tohoku Branch, Junichiro Matsumoto, KBT, Kiichi Kaiko, Kobayashi Maki Design Workshop (KMDW), Kumi Aizawa, Nathaniel Corum, Sasaki Sekkei, Shizuyo Shiba, studio-L, Yo Hayasaka, Yutaka Takiura

Contractors

Luxs, Plante Module, Shimizu Kenchiku, Silhouette Spice 

Major Partners

ArchiAID, Autodesk, Bentley University, Bezos Family Foundation, Citizen Effect, DoSomething.org, GlobalGiving, Global Nomads Group, Heath Ceramics, Kimball International, Nike, PACT, PechaKucha Inspire Japan, Prudential Foundation, Prudential of Japan, Punkt., Sara Morishige Williams, Students Rebuild

Partners  

Architecture for Humanity London Chapter, Architecture for Humanity Tokyo Chapter, City of Ishinomaki, Daisaku Okamoto, Daniel Bensi, ETIC., FLight, General Incorporate Association Tsumugiya, Hatsumi Hoshizawa, Hidehiko Ishimori, Higashi-niban-cho Elementary School, Hirohisa Higashi, HMC Architects | Designing Futures Foundation, Islander Middle School, JR East, Kazuki Kasahara, Keio University, Kyoto University of Art and Design, Leslie Stoner Studio, Machizukuri Man-bow, MAKOTO, Miyagi Prefecture Department of Education, Miyagi University of Education, Miyagi University School of Project Design, NPO Midori-no-ie School, PacRim Studio, PayPal, Reiji Ohe, Ruinart-Moet Hennessy, Saunder Juriaans, Sendai Central Community Center, Sendai Saiwai-cho Youth and Community Center, Shanti Volunteer Association, S-Pal Sendai, Supporting Organization for Artists of Tohoku, Tadd Sackville-West, The COVE/CTM DREAMS United National International School, Tohoku Seikatsu Bunka University, Tohoku University, Tohoku University of Art and Design, Tsutsujigaoka Elementary School, University Cooperative School, University of Cincinnati, University of San Francisco, Valerie Quirk, Vic Muniz Studio, We Are One Kitakami, Women's Group of Oshika Peninsula Fishing Union in Ayukawa-hama, Yasunobu Meguro, Yoshihiro Konno, Zenetsu Sakai

 


 

THANK YOU

This work would not be possible without the generous support of our staff, design fellows, volunteers, partners and donors. Thank you!

Donors

Autodesk, Bentley University, Bezos Family Foundation, Citizen Effect, Dianne Douthat, Global Giving, Heath Ceramics, HMC Designing Futures Foundation, Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, Jeannie Hoff, Kimball International, Minami Design, molo design, Nike Inc., PACT Apparel, Inc, Polk Bros. Foundation, Prudential Foundation, Punkt Group, Roti Indian Bistro, Ruinart-Moet Hennessy USA, Sarah Morishige Williams, Sarah Yannaco, Szu-Lung Chang, Tencent America, LLC…and many others.

Fundraising Organizers

Architecture for Humanity London Chapter, CafeLife Virtual Cranes for Japan, Fashion Girls for Humanity, Heartbeats for Japan, Live4Sendai, PechaKucha, Rise for Japan, Robert Nealan

A Special Thank You

Last but definitely not least, we would like to thank all of the individuals who donated to support our reconstruction effort in Tohoku. While we cannot list everyone here, we are especially grateful to you.

Architecture for Humanity makes every effort to ensure accuracy in donor and partner listings, but on occasion errors may occur. Please contact us at 415-963-3511 with any questions or comments.

 

(Click here to see the web version of this report.)

Mar 11, 2013

Thank you for helping Japan - Two Year Anniversary

Cherry blossoms will bloom again in Fukushima
Cherry blossoms will bloom again in Fukushima

This is a personal message from Mari Kuraishi, President and Co-Founder of GlobalGiving.

To the generous donors of GlobalGiving's Japan Relief Fund,

This coming March 11th will mark the two-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.   A year ago, Britt and I visited our partners' project sites.  While we were happy to see that the projects were making remarkable progress, we were also overwhelmed by the sight of the damage that the earthquake and tsunami brought to Tohoku.

Japan still has a long way to recover, and our partners on the ground are working hard to help rebuild the communities affected by the disaster.  With your donations, children in Fukushima can go to summer camps and play outside without worrying about radiation.  We supported our partner who ran special career sessions for junior high school students in Tohoku, so that they will continue to be motivated about their future.  We sent young entrepreneurs like Naoko to Tohoku so that they can start businesses to revitalize local economic growth.  I believe that the youth that you have helped through our fund will become  the next generation of leaders.  

I personally would like to thank you for supporting the recovery effort.  I am touched how you continuously contributed to the fund throughout these past two years.  Today, I'd like to ask you to consider giving again.  To honor the two-year anniversary, GlobalGiving is running a special matching campaign for projects that are working in Tohoku.  We are matching your donations 100% from March 1st to the 15th, and on March 11th, we are matching the donations 200%.   

Donate

I appreciate you standing with us for supporting the Japanese people.  On this day, I hope that you will join me reflecting on the loss the people have gone through and the ongoing recovery efforts.

Warmly,
Mari

Volunteers painting Community Center
Volunteers painting Community Center
Mar 10, 2013

Get your donations matched by 200%!

For the next 36 hours only, Global Giving will match any of your donations by 200%! 

That means that for every $1 you donate, $2 more will be added on.

Here's a breakdown of how much a 200% match means for your donations:

  • $10 you donate becomes $30
  • $25 you donate becomes $75 
  • $50 you donate becomes $150
  • $100 you donate becomes $300

You have already made such an impact in the lives of many, and we thank you for that. This is one more way you can help the citizens of Japan continue to recover and rebuild from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit them in 2011. Even a small donation can make a huge difference!

Global Giving will continue to match your credit card or Paypall donations until March 15th, but the next 36 hours is the only time (until March 11th, 2013 23:59 PM EDT (March 12th, 12:59 PM JST)) they are matching at 200%! 

Your donation will support small businesses and provide access to capital and advice to revive the local markets and provide jobs to others. 

Thank you for continuing to care about those in Japan. We could not do our ongoing work without you!

With gratitude,

Carlene

Links:

Feb 28, 2013

Marking Two Years Since the Earthquake and Tsunami

It has been two years since a 9.0 earthquake devastated Japan, initiating a massive tsunami and radiation crisis. International Medical Corps is still responding in Japan, and this is your chance to support our work. Global Giving is matching donations one-to-one from March 1st to March 15th, up to $1,000 per donor. Your donation will immediately be doubled, amplifying International Medical Corps’ efforts two-fold.

It gets better. On March 11th, to mark the two-year anniversary of the earthquake, Global Giving will match donations two-to-one, up to $1,000 per donor. Your ten-dollar donation becomes thirty dollars. Your hundred-dollar donation becomes $300. Your $1,000 donation becomes $3,000. This unique opportunity to multiply your gift enables International Medical Corps to continue our critical efforts in Japan.

Today, International Medical Corps continues to work in Japan, partnering with local organizations to reach families with critical services in Fukushima Prefecture.

“Due to complications from the nuclear plant accident, many residents have been forced to evacuate their homes in Fukushima and are still living either in temporary housing sites or in rented apartments. Countless survivors are still struggling to rebuild their lives after the disaster without knowing when or if they can return home,” says Yumi Terahata, International Medical Corps’ Country Representative in Japan.  “International Medical Corps is committed to working with local partners to address the long-term needs of the Japanese people.”

Today, International Medical Corps has built on its collaboration with local Japanese agencies to address ongoing humanitarian needs and support disaster-affected communities in becoming more resilient.

  • International Medical Corps, with the Japan Volunteer Center, Shapla Neer, and the People, now run community spaces throughout Fukushima Prefecture where evacuees can meet other evacuees; receive psychological support and information about available sources; and, take part in recreational workshops and activities.
  • International Medical Corps is also focusing support on Fukushima’s evacuee-children. With the Association for Aid and Relief, International Medical Corps is installing playground equipment for Gangoya Temporary Housing Complex, which is home to 264 children. With partner IVY, International Medical Corps is supporting the first daycare center for children of evacuee families from Fukushima, hiring evacuee-mothers as the majority of IVY caretakers.
  • International Medical Corps is funding the NGO Center for International Cooperation to establish and maintain a collaboration space for non-governmental organizations in Fukushima to facilitate information dissemination, networking, and collaboration among local community-based organizations, nonprofits, and international NGOs to assist Fukushima survivors and displaced families.

This is your chance to help.

Only $100,000 is available for matching funds, so donate now!

International Medical Corps thanks you for your continued support and interest in our Japan programming. We look forward to giving you continued updates on the Global Giving site, and encourage you to visit www.internationalmedicalcorps.org for further information on our programming worldwide.

Feb 28, 2013

Monthly Report vol.20

Tohoku Earthquake Aid Helping the recovery through mid-to-long-term recovery aid

  From the standpoint of having helped with recovery on-site since immediately after the quake, what can we do now? Civic Force faces the thoughts and words of many victims even now, and is starting the "Mid-to-Long-term Reconstruction Support Project" from this summer, based on four core areas: Tourism Revitalization, Medical Access, Renewable Energy and Community Reconstruction.

  For the Tourism Revitalization, We joined the strategy meeting for tourism, debates held monthly in Kesennuma city, Miyagi, since March 2012. In october, we performed interviews in and outside the city with those in the tourism industry on the city`s projects as well as presenting ideas for a tourism revitalizing platform. from now on, we plan to discuss organizational plans and budget details.

  Medical Accsee focuses on the increasing isolation of Kesennuma and other afflicted coastal areas and aims to link together with municipalities, firefighters and regional medical institutions to introduce and implement civilian helicopter ambulances. This will allow for quick mobilization in times of a disaster, raise the rate of survival in an area where quick access to high-level medical service is difficult, and build a model case for a more air-centric rescue strategy. Accordingly, in preparation for implementing this next spring, we are investigating a good site for a heliport and working with medical institutions in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

  Renewable Energy works with the Kesennuma Energy Development Corporation that is at the heart of the renewable energy project in Kesennuma to improve forest environments, employment and other long-term benefits for regional economy. Additionally, this project works with municipalities as well, with the municipality itself calling for the propagation of natural energy.

 

For further details, please find attaced file and visit our homepage(www.civic-force.org).


Attachments:
Feb 28, 2013

Monthly Report vol.19

 "So many things we have to bear"

 The Tohoku earthquake registered a magnitude of 9.0 and the height of the ensuing tsunami was 40,1 meters. This disaster caused huge damage to North East Pacific coast of Japan. More than 18,000 people lost their lives or are still missing. It has been reported by the Reconstruction Agency that 330,000 people have evacuated to either temporary houses, public housings, hospitals or the houses of relateves and friends inside and outside of the affected areas as of September.

 In seven prefectures including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the loval governments are planning to construct 23,000 public housings for rent to the victims, however, there are difficulties in insuring the building plots due to the landscape and flooded areas. Also, difficulties associated with the aging population are another problem. Opportunities to be physically active with work and hobbies have decreased and both physical and mental disorders have caused walking difficulties among 20% of over 65 year olds. Solitary deaths and suicides at temporary houses never cease.

 The Fukushima nuclear plant accident has increasingly caused severe disturbances for the population of the prefecture. An elementary school student who was participating in a program at Tome city, Miyagi prefecture this summer said in an essay that "there is nowhere in Fukushima that one can live an ordinary life. We cannot eat vesetables havested in the neighboring farms. The swimming tournament which I was looking forward to was calceled again this summer. There are so many things we have to bear in Fukushima.

If you need further information about our activities, please find attached file and our homepage(www.civic-force.org/english).


Attachments:
Feb 28, 2013

Summary of Project in Fukushima for Past 6 Months

Boo!!! Santa is in town!
Boo!!! Santa is in town!

Overview of the Damage that Still Remains

It has been nearly two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11th, 2011. In spite of the steady recovery process, many people are still suffering from the aftereffects of the disaster. Many people are still displaced because of the radiation spill at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture. For example, evacuees are forced to stay in temporary housing complexes because their homes and workplaces were completely washed away by the tsunami.

According to the Ministry of Reconstruction in Japan, as of December 12th 2012, there are still 98,235 people living in the temporary housing complexes and other types of publicly subsidized residences in Fukushima Prefecture alone. In the Tohoku region as a whole (Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures), there are 251,869 people who share the same fate.

Number of evacuees living in temporary housing complexes and other subsidized housing

  • Fukushima = 98,235
  • Miyagi = 112,008
  • Iwate = 41,626
  • TOTAL = 251,869

Number of evacuees who evacutaded out of their home prefectures and still cannot go back

  • Fukushima = 57,954
  • Miyagi = 8,079
  • Iwate = 1,674
  • TOTAL = 67,707

 

For those who used to live within 20km of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, there is still no prospect of being able to go back to their homes in the near future. For those whose houses are outside of that restricted area, the problem of the radiation contamination still looms. There is an ongoing effort to cleanse and decontaminate the residential areas, but the effect is very limited and temporary. Since the forests and the soil of mountains regions have accumulated radioactive particles over time, every rainfall carries the threat of radioactive contamination via water streams, resulting in increases of radiation levels in residential areas downstream.

 

Our Building Healthy Communities Project

We started the Building Healthy Communities Project to mitigate the physical and psychological pain felt by the victims of the March 11th disaster. We hoped to help people living in temporary housing complexes recover from their many losses – their loved ones, homes, workplaces, and precious personal possessions.

Through the Building Healthy Communities Project, we hoped to foster strong, personal interaction among the victims so that they may get over their plight not alone, but as a community. People would get to know each other and start to build new supportive relationships, and as that happens on a larger and larger scale, it would re-vitalize a sense of community and the hope of regaining some normalcy.

The Building Healthy Communities Project mainly consists of 2 activities:

  1. Community gathering events held at community centers in temporary housing complexes.
  2. Overnight field trips for elementary school students to play outside without worrying about radiation.

Between July 1st, 2012 and December 31st, 2013 we have held 9 events all together. As intended, each event was enjoyed by many elderly people and small children. Below is a record of the number of events and the number of participants we had for each activity.

  • Community gathering events: 6 events, 460 participants
  • Overnight field trips for kids: 3 events, 96 participants

We appreciate all the kind messages and generous donations that enable us to organize these events to help alleviate the pain, sadness and stress of those affected. We will continue our support for those still suffering, and every donation will help us reach as many people in need as possible. Finally, please take a look at the photos below to see how our activities are translating into smiles.

Lots of colorful hearts for me and my family
Lots of colorful hearts for me and my family
Building a new Eiffel tower out of colored cups
Building a new Eiffel tower out of colored cups
Making original Christmas decorations
Making original Christmas decorations
"Who wants to knead flour to make noodles?" "Me!!"
"Who wants to knead flour to make noodles?" "Me!!"
Family that came to an overnight field trip
Family that came to an overnight field trip
All together now!
All together now!
Feb 28, 2013

Fishery Support Project Completion Report - Thank You!

Thank You from Shizugawa Fishing Co-op Staff
Thank You from Shizugawa Fishing Co-op Staff

Peace Winds America (PWA) thanks all the donors who have supported our Fishery Recovery Project.  This is our last project report, and we wanted to share our latest accomplishments and how you helped fishing communities in Tohoku region.

Abalone fishing traditional way:
Abalone fishing begins at dawn.  Fishermen navigate their boats to the harvest area, and catch abalone that are tightly stuck to the sea floor using water glasses and a specialized rod and hook.  Great skill is required to handle the rod while controlling the boat in order to have a good catch.  Abalone fishing is mostly done individually, and fishermen enjoy the friendly competition of the abalone harvest.

Bad weather, no boat, low market price, and harmful rumors – Nothing will keep Minamisanriku fishermen from going back to sea!
The Abalone season officially opened in November 2012.  During a normal season, there are five to six harvest days.   However each abalone harvest region only had three harvest days in 2012 due to bad weather.  

This season the abalone trading price was down 30% from previous fishing seasons.  No abalone was harvested last year due to the disaster, so abalone from other areas have taken Minamisanriku’s market share.   Moreover harmful rumors caused by the Fukushima nuclear crisis must have had an influence.

Additionally many fishermen still have not been able to replace their fishing boats damaged or lost during the tsunami.  Some fishermen were willing to share their surviving or newly-acquired vessels with those without, but demand for boats overwhelmed the supply during the harvest.     

Despite fewer harvesting days and fewer boats, the two fishing cooperatives were able to harvest almost as much as in 2010 (before the tsunami)!  What a great success!

Over 600 fishermen participated in the PWA subsidy program!
A total of 571 fishermen purchased abalone equipment through the PWA subsidy program.  PWA also extended support for sea urchin equipment since it only required replacing one component of the abalone equipment.  An additional 118 fishermen took advantage of our sea urchin equipment program. 

Ultimately  the PWA equipment subsidy program played important role in this year’s harvest.   Reduced equipment costs allowed more fishermen to participate resulting in additional income from the abalone harvest.

PWA continues supporting fishermen in Minamisanriku:
Though this project is finished, Peace Winds America will continue helping fishermen in Minamisanriku.   

PWA’s successful fishing shed program is now expanding to new districts!   This project helps fishing families who lost their homes, work spaces and fishing equipment.  By providing these families with a fishing shed (their base of operations), the families are able focus their resources on livelihood recovery and stabilization.

You can support fishing families who lost everything in the disaster.  Please  visit our new project site: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/sheds-for-japan-tsunami-fishing-families

Thank You for Supporting Fishing Communities in Tsunami Affected Areas!!

Why help fishermen?
Peace Winds America has helped Minamisanriku since the immediate aftermath of the disaster.  This created a strong bond between the people in this town and PWA.  We immediately recognized the importance of supporting the fishing industry as it is the economic backbone and the livelihood for the majority of Minamisanriku’s citizens.   It was natural for PWA to continue working with them to transition from emergency relief to recovery of the area.   For two years we have been working closely with two fishing cooperatives in Minamisanriku:  Utatsu and Shizugawa.   With a good understanding of the history and culture of the fishing industry, we have been able to identify rapidly changing local needs and provide effective recovery projects.

Links:

Mar 1, 2013

Together, Let's Paint!! Ogatsu Community Center

Volunteers painting Community Center
Volunteers painting Community Center

Thank you very much for all your tremendous continued support which means so much to the people of Tohoku and our dedicated volunteers. 

Since our last report, we made five relief trips to Tohoku and held activities and events with nearly 130 volunteers, benefitting over 600 people.

We are very pleased to report that the construction of the Ogatsu Community Center has been going very well.  They are now using locally produced slate recovered after the tsunami on the roof.  Through generous donations from all over the world, we were able to send two groups of volunteers to assist with painting the exterior on February 9/10 and 16/17 as shown in the photograph below.  We also supported the local economy by having the volunteers stay overnight in a small local minshuku (Japanese inn) in the hills just outside Ogatsu.  We hope that – with your generous support – Hands on Tokyo volunteers will be able to continue to assist with painting and
landscaping activities during the final stages of construction and then with ongoing community events once the new Community Center opens around April 2013.  As the tsunami washed away or severely damaged all but one of the
buildings and as so far this is the only new, non-temporary construction in Ogatsu since the tsunami, this is a tremendous source of encouragement for the people of Ogatsu and highlights the critical importance of ongoing volunteer initiatives in the region.  Once completed, it will house a library, a café run by local residents, offices for the Machizukuri Council and the Recovery Project Committee, space for the preservation of local industry and traditional culture (such as fishing and ink stone crafts) and study and recreational areas.  

After taking an overnight bus to Arahama Beach (outside Ogatsu), Hands on Tokyo volunteers worked on December 1st with members of the local community to make rice cakes for an “Ogatsu Canvas of Hope – Be Heard Our Vow to Recover” event where people wrote messages of hope for recovery on a 4x40 meter board facing the ocean and
to those who lost their lives in the tsunami.  Our volunteers also held a café – serving warm drinks and food to all those who participated in the event.  Then, after taking an overnight bus to Ogatsu, Hands on Tokyo volunteers held a special Christmas café on December 15th – serving yakisoba, pancakes, hot dogs, cakes baked by volunteers in Tokyo and hot drinks and distributing handmade New Year’s decorations and blankets to members of the local community of all ages. 

As so many people are still living in temporary housing in locations quite far from their former neighbors and support networks, Hands on Tokyo remains very committed to further supporting and encouraging the people of Ogatsu through cafes and other activities.  We also hope that – with your generous support – we can continue helping local residents to rebuild their lives and restart their businesses.  For example, in March we are arranging a volunteer weekend to help Saito-san and his wife, local farmers in Yamamoto-cho, prepare for the spring growing season. 

Thank you in advance for making all this possible through your generous donations.  We cannot do what we do without your support.

Dinner at local minshuku (Japanese inn)
Dinner at local minshuku (Japanese inn)
Ogatsu Community Center
Ogatsu Community Center
In front of Ogatsu Canvas of Hope
In front of Ogatsu Canvas of Hope
Famous HOT cafe
Famous HOT cafe
Handing out year-end/new year gift
Handing out year-end/new year gift

Links:

Feb 21, 2013

Year of Hackathons

Safecast Hackathon, January 2013
Safecast Hackathon, January 2013

Having a distributed team is great for countless reasons, we have a talent pool literally the size of the entire world and no matter what time it is here, it's primetime for someone else so things can move pretty fast when they need to. Tools like our GitHub repositories help with that a lot. One of the downsides is out of sight out of mind - basically it's easy to push things off to the side and forget about them for months.

Towards the end of last year we devised a plan to help keep the momentem going, as well as sync people up to ensure that everyone had the same goals in mind, which can get confusing and lost in an endless flow of emails. So we decided to have 3-4 individual week long hanckathons in 2013 - each in a different city around the world. We'd bring people together to huddle up and get heads down together for a week and see what could happen.

In January we had our first hackathon, which we held at our offices in Shibuya, Tokyo. We brough in team members from Boston, Los Angeles, Dublin as well as pulled in people from all over Japan. It was incredibly helpful and we made a lot of progress on a number of different fronts. Behind the scenes we fixed a lot of issues and improved our database and API. Our map got a huge update and loads about a million times faster, as well as now having a direct link to the database so what's shown is much more current. The data upload section of our site was redesigned from the ground up. On the hardware front we made considerable progress on the new bGeigie Nano kit which we're hoping to have available in early March - this will allow anyone to build their on bGeigie and drive around to collect data for Safecast. We also took a few big steps with our new air sensors which you can read about here.

Overall it was a huge success, lots of progress and many people met for the first time. Putting a face with the name on the email you just got is always good. Our next hackathon will happen at the end of April, beginning of May in Boston. Putting together the plans for it now.

The Safecast iOS app has been continually updated and if you haven't grabbed it yet you definitely should. It's loaded with our full data set and acts as a virtual geiger counter!

On a final note, Global Giving is having a donation matching campaign in March with 200% matching on March 11th. If you were considering making another donation, that is a fantastic way to really multiply the impact!

Kittychan, Safecast offices, Shibuya
Kittychan, Safecast offices, Shibuya
Feb 28, 2013

Have your gift to Japan matched by GlobalGiving! Today!

Sachie Saijo and her mother Seiko
Sachie Saijo and her mother Seiko

Just like you haven't forgotten about what happened in Japan, neither have we!

Starting today, for a limited time, just for the next two weeks (March 1st-15th) every donation you make to Mercy Corps' Japan Earthquake and Tsunami project will be matched by GlobalGiving at 100% up to $1,000.

Though the situation in Japan may not make the news anymore, the people there are still in need. It is only through continued support from donors like you that has allowed them to rebuild their lives. Mercy Corps has been there from the start with immediate life-saving care, and we will remain there to provide long-term solutions. 

Help us to honor this two year anniversary of the devastating tsunami and earthquake by making a donation and having your gifts matched today.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at fundraising@mercycorps.org.

With gratitude,

Carlene Deits

Links:

Feb 11, 2013

Update: 127 Fellows have worked for 63 projects

Profile of Fellows
Profile of Fellows

We would like to express our deepest appreciation for your generous supports to our recovery efforts. Almost two years have passed since the earthquake. As a matter of course, people’s memory of the disaster is gradually diminishing. However, thanks to your continuous support we have been able to promote the Fellowship Program steadily.

Since the launch of Fellowship program just after the earthquake, we have selected 127 Fellows from 353 applications and dispatched them to 63 projects led by good recovery leaders. Your support covered stipends and related expenses.

We will continue to explore good leaders, recruit good Fellows and provide various supports to them. Your continuous support would be highly appreciated.

Project example: Community and Livelihood Support Project for damaged residents

Location: Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Pref.
Organization: Health and Life Revival Council in Ishinomaki district (RCI)

This project consists of two units: the medical care & health unit and the community & life unit. There are approximately 12,000 households where the residents had once evacuated but then returned to their damaged housings in Ishinomaki city and Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture. The medical care & health unit has visited each of these households and conducted health and life assessments since October 2012. All the data collected through the assessments are stored in the database that is referred to by the Residence Support Specialists to provide appropriate health cares to each household. The community & life unit works together with the medical care & health unit, other organizations, government, and companies to rebuild the bonds among local community. It supports community recovery and provides relevant information to the victims to restart independent living.

A Fellow Kanako Tsuchiya has worked for the community & life unit since 11/5/2012. She has a major role in coordinating local organizations and community recovery. Her business background as a consultant greatly helps the unit that originally consisted of health-care professionals only to accelerate its project including operational improvements.

Category of 63 projects
Category of 63 projects
Kanako Tsuchiya, Fellow working for RCI
Kanako Tsuchiya, Fellow working for RCI
Feb 11, 2013

2nd year of thanks for a special holiday period!

Sledding is FUN!
Sledding is FUN!

This is the second consecutive year for several Tohoku children's homes to be able to participate in two special programs around the holiday period. The Christmas Wish Program and English Adventure Snow Camp took place during the months of December and early January--ending 2012 on a warm note and beginning 2013 with an exceptional experience out in the snow!

Christmas Wish 2012 offered several homes an opportunity to provide each child in the home with a 'wished for' gift, along with a special holiday party for home staff and kids. Being able to spend a little money on something 'lighthearted' is truly a luxury for most homes, but it is priceless for these children to feel a little extra love and attention over the holiday season. Not to mention the joy that a small toy, new piece of clothing, book or game can bring - helping kids feel like kids in challenging environment. 

English Adventure Snow Camp 2013, held in two locations (Miyagi and Niigata campsites) proved once again to help develop children's perspective, self-confidence, and teamwork abilities. From snowshoe treks, skiing, igloo building to sledding and simple snow play- the kids learned to push through some of the more challenging/new activities by working together and receiving positive encouragement. All of the children's snowy experiences were sprinkled with English lessons throughout--giving the more experienced English speakers a chance to practice what they've learned in school, while nudging the more shy/inexperienced speakers a chance to learn some new phrases and boost their confidence. Even more, those campers who attended last year's Snow Camp were able to serve as "mentors" for the new participants--and their ability to dive more fully into each activity this time around was certainly apparent. 

Both programs, although quite different, provide levels of care not regularly experienced by these children due to institutional-style home life; as hardworking and caring as many home staff members are, it's difficult to provide consistent 1:1 care for so many children. Feeling cared for during the holiday period is key for children, and getting out into nature for pure playing pleasure and new experiences helps children open up their minds to new possibilities and insights about themselves. Thanks to the continued support from the GlobalGiving community, Living Dreams has been able to extend these program opportunties to Tohoku children's homes. A special present to open or a snow trek on a bright sunny day with a positive mentor goes a long way in brightening a child's spirit.

We truly thank every single special donor for helping to make a difference!

And as the 2nd anniversary of 3/11 approaches, GlobalGiving is planning a special 100% matching campaign for the start of March. If you or anyone else is interested in supporting future programs like the Christmas Wish program and English Adventure Snow Camp, this campaign will help stretch your donor dollars much further. Stay tuned for more details and updates regarding the 3/11 donor-matching campaign. 

Happy New Year, and thank you for your kindness!

-Living Dreams

Super Snowy Trek!
Super Snowy Trek!
Playing with new toys!
Playing with new toys!
Feb 6, 2013

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: February 2013

Tohoku Newsletter Banner January 2013

Hello,

2013 has quickly kicked off, and our projects are moving along!  Kitakami "We Are One" Collaborative officially opened last month, Maeami-hama Community house is scheduled for completion in the next few weeks, and we have welcomed many into MakiBiz with seminars and consultations.  Read updates below for a glimpse of what's been happening.  

February brings three holidays commonly celebrated in Japan (only one is a national holiday).

Feb. 3rd - Setsubun (beginning of Spring)
Although this is not a national holiday, it is celebrated by many nationwide.  This event occurs one day before spring, according to the Japanese Lunar Calendar and is now most commonly celebrated with the ritual of throwing roasted beans around the house and at temples and shrines yelling "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!"  This scares out the evil spirits from entering, and keeps happiness inside.

Feb. 11 - Kenkoku kinenbi (National Foundation Day)
On this day in 600 BC, the first Japanese emperor was crowned.  This is the only national holiday in this month.  However, celebrations of this day are relatively muted since expressions of nationalism are rare.

Feb. 14 - Valentine's Day
In Japan, this day is celebrated slightly differently where only women give chocolates to men.  Men return this gift a month later, on "White Day" (March 14).

The coldest month of the year has passed, and we can look forward to a slight rise in temperatures as we move into February.  This coming month, two of our staff will be heading to Tohoku.  Look forward to reports from them when they return.

Stay warm and take care!

 

Best,
Architecture for Humanity

*As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.  



UPDATES 

MAKOTO seminar January 11MakiBiz

Our first regional office in Japan, MakiBiz has been up and running since the end of November.  Our staff has been providing business support for many clients, and have completed hosting our series of 6 MAKOTO Business Seminars, over a period of 3 months.  The seminars were attended by many in the community, with high satisfaction.  Look forward to new seminars to come.

 

Kitakami project completedKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  (completed)

Construction has been completed and the center officially opened its doors on January 23rd!  With the center open, several programs have already been scheduled to take place in the new building.  See images and a more detailed report here.

 

Maeami-hama interior under constructionMaeami-hama Community House (in construction)

Construction is still moving along.  Most of the building was assembled in a matter of weeks and the building is targeted for completion at the end of February.

Again, frequent construction updates on this project can be found on KMDW (the architect of record)'s facebook page (in Japanese only). We will also be providing periodically summarized updates from these posts here, so stay tuned (our most recent post found here)!

 


EVENTS 

3.11 Anniversary

The two-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami is coming up.  We will be launching a campaign to commemorate this event in support of the people in Tohoku who are still working to recover and rebuild.  Stay tuned.

 

 


TOHOKU PROJECT STATUS REPORT

In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya"  - CA 98%
Maeami-hama Community House  - CA 70%

Completed
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  - completed Dec/2012

Akahama Covered Alley  - Completed Jul/2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative  - Completed Jul/2012
Paper Crane Sculpture  - Completed Jan/2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku  - Completed Dec/2011
Ohya Green Sports Park  - Completed Dec/2011
Hikado Marketplace  - Completed Jul/2011

CA Construction Administration ; CD Construction Documents ; DD Design Development ; SD Schematic Design ; PD Pre-Design - About the Phases

Links:

Feb 5, 2013

International Medical Corps' Efforts are Ongoing

People gather at a community space.
People gather at a community space.

Almost two years have passed since the devastating 9.0-earthquake struck Japan, initiating a massive tsunami and subsequent radiation crisis. International Medical Corps, on the ground within 48 hours, provided immediate assistance to at-risk populations and the government. As the focus on Japan today has shifted from emergency to recovery, International Medical Corps continues to provide vital support for community-based local partners.

Our work in Japan will continue to evolve with local partners to address ongoing humanitarian needs and help  communities rebuild – making them more resilient . Over the next year, International Medical Corps will continue to support recovery efforts of local partners, including creating several much-needed community spaces in
Fukushima
where evacuees can access recreational workshops, counseling, and information on assistance programs.

International Medical Corps, with the Japanese government and other international NGOs, will also be collaborating on a long-term Disaster Preparedness Initiative that will focus on building capacity of local community-based organizations to respond to future disasters – preparing for an even faster response and helping to save lives in the future.

Thank you for your continued support of our Japan programs and of International Medical Corps. You make our work possible.

P.S. Mark your calendars – Global Giving will be matching donations to our Japan projects between March 1 and March 15th, dollar for dollar. This doubles the impact of your investment in Japan’s future! 



 
Jan 29, 2013

Finding a Solution to the Crucial Problem of Condensation in Temporary Housing of Elderly People

Now she can live in her temporary housing at ease
Now she can live in her temporary housing at ease

Condensation Becomes a Crucial Problem

In Kesennuma, Miyagi, where the lowest temperature drops as low as -10 degrees Cesium during the winter, condensation has become a very critical issue in emergency temporary

ousing in the Watado district.
Mr. Toshio HATAKEYAMA, President of a Residents’ Association remarked that "some work was done to install double sash and heat insulation materials, but that did not solve the condensation problem. With all the windows open and the exhaust fans in the kitchen and in the bath area turned on, it would be too cold to sleep.” He explained that “with the windows closed, condensation would occur and water droplets start falling on my futon while I’m asleep. The exhaust fan in the attic is too small and useless when it's freezing cold." Water droplets create mold which trigger critical health issues like pneumonia, which can be a life-threatening disease especially to the elderly. The government has provided no further assistance. Mr. HATAKEYAMA sought help from the Volunteer Station in Kesennuma and came up with the idea to take simple measures using do-it-yourself materials that can be purchased at a home improvement center. AAR Japan, who heard about the situation, decided to provide assistance to cover these expenses and help the residents with construction work.

All United to Manually Install Heat Insulation

After prolonged freezing weather, the construction began on December 5 with the help of the residents in the temporary houses, staff from the Volunteer Station in Kesennuma, staff from NPO APCAS, and volunteers from Rakuno Gakuen University. Using double-sided scotch tape and sealant, heat insulation materials were installed without any gaps on ceilings and walls of living areas, bedrooms, kitchens, and closets. After measuring the dimensions and checking the positions of light bulbs and fire alarms in each room, the heat insulation materials were cut into appropriate sizes and shapes. If the heat insulation materials fit well in the designated place, they were attached with double-sided tape to form a tight seal.
Temporary housing for two occupants is composed of just one or two 4-mat rooms with little to no storage space. In these small rooms with barely enough space for a futon and storage closet, such work can take a considerable amount of time and effort. Some of the work had to be done outside in the chilly weather due to the lack of workspace. All volunteers worked together for an entire week to insulate a total of 10 households and 20 rooms for temporary houses in Watado along with some temporary houses in Goemongahara where the residents had claimed to suffer from the same problem.

"We No Longer Have to Worry About Condensation!"

"The temperature here tends to be 2 to 3 degrees Cesium lower comparing to the adjacent national road and it snows a lot here as well.” Mr. Etsurou FUJIKAWA, a resident of temporary housing in Goemongahara shared his experience. “This year, the weather has been colder than the previous one and it started snowing earlier too. The condensation problem was so severe that the futon bedding in our closets were always wet every morning. During the winter season, I had to wipe the condensation off the wall every morning. But, mold would appear on the ceiling since I can't reach high enough to wipe it. Sometimes, I would stand on the chair and try to wipe it, but it's a hard work considering my age." With an expression of relief on his face he said, "but we no longer have to worry about it. Thank you for your help." 

Ms. Nobuko MURAKAMI who resides in the same temporary housing commented "the government offered to add a reheating function to our baths but we declined because the condensation problem was more critical to us. It’s not worth it to spend taxes on what we can get along without. We're doing alright with our baths for now… We appreciate for all the work you've done today. Please help yourselves to some lunch.” She offered some rice with scallops and bamboo shoot she prepared the night before along with some salad, minced soup with saury, and Ganzuki (a well-known snack in Miyagi and Iwate).

Our prayers are with the quake victims who addressed their problems proactively during the toughest of times. We hope that the measures taken against the condensation will help them maintain their health through the winter.

This program is implemented with generous donations received through GlobalGiving and other donors. We appreciate all the support we have received and we will keep continue helping elderly people and persons with disabilities who are still suffering from the aftereffect of March 11th in Tohoku, Japan.

A resident, Mr. HATAKEYAMA working on ceiling
A resident, Mr. HATAKEYAMA working on ceiling
Cutting the heat insulation material for ceiling
Cutting the heat insulation material for ceiling
A volunteer who is working to help his aunt
A volunteer who is working to help his aunt
Working outside in freezing weather
Working outside in freezing weather
Tightly sealed to prevent condensation and mold
Tightly sealed to prevent condensation and mold
Residents prepared delicious lunch for the workers
Residents prepared delicious lunch for the workers
Jan 29, 2013

Abalone fishermen celebrate first harvesting in two years!

Fishermen harvesting Abalone traditional way
Fishermen harvesting Abalone traditional way

Miamisanriku fishermen celebrate the first abalone season in two years!

Abalone, a treasured delicacy selling at a high price, is critical to the economy of Minamisanriku. For generations, fishing families have harvested the abalone from the rocks at sea bottom using traditional methods—using waterglasses and long rods and special hooks.  The entire community uses the traditional method to ensure the natural and highest quality of their harvest. The fishing families call the abalone harvest the “winter bonus” as it generates income to many families especially during the slow fishing season during November--January.  

The last abalone harvest was winter of 2010.  In the winter of 2011, abalone harvesting was canceled by the community because majority of the fishing families lacked equipment and boats.  The community guarded the area from illegal poaching.

Keeping the traditional harvesting method by generations

Most fishing families lost their houses, boats, equipment during the 3/11 tsunami.  Though many fishermen were looking forward to the abalone season, they lacked the funds to replace the equipment.  As the 2012 season approached, Peace Winds America decided to provide subsidies to the fishermen so they could purchase the special rods, waterglasses, and rent boats.  With the subsidies, many fishermen custom-made their rods and hooks.

Abalone Harvest Begins Again in 2012

In late November, 2012, the fishing cooperative announced the first harvesting date. Harvesting can only happen when the fishing cooperatives determine the weather and sea conditions are perfect.  Then they make an announcement one day in advance, allowing the harvest.  This season there were only three harvesting days.

The Minamisanriku fishing families were very excited to go back to the sea.  You could sense the entire city was thrilled to see the harvest as the fishermen offloaded their prized abalone.

Peace Winds support enabled us to help Abalone fishermen to help purchase equipment!

“Once I was at a sea and caught the first abalone, I felt so great and happy to finally be able to harvest again.  It was a little different scenery this year with much fewer boats and they are mostly new boats and new equipment” said Mr. Takahashi, a fishermen from Shizugawa district.  “But the subsidy program from Peace Winds eased our family financial burden for the equipment purchase and I am grateful for the opportunity to harvest again. “

Box full of Abalone
Box full of Abalone
Fresh harvested Abalone!
Fresh harvested Abalone!
Sorting Abalone by sizes
Sorting Abalone by sizes
Happy Harvesting!
Happy Harvesting!
Happy to return to the sea!
Happy to return to the sea!
Jan 30, 2013

Your donations are creating amazing changes!

Thank you for your support!
Thank you for your support!

Dear GlobalGiving donors,

First of all, we are happy to announce that the matching campaign for Tohoku relief-related projects in November was a great success!  20 organizations raised more than $70,000. We thank you again for your generous contributions!  We are planning on holding a similar campaign in March, and we will keep you updated as we confirm the specifics.
Today, we would like to share the achievements that one of our partners, AAR Japan, has made with your donations. AAR Japan received $500,000 from Tsunami Relief Fund for their activities in Tohoku.  Here are the highlights:
  • Reconstructing workshop facilities so that displaced people with disabilities could start earning income again -  In the first half of the project period, AAR Japan rebuilt the lighting system for Keyaki Workshop, an employment supporting center for persons with disabilities, which provide working opportunities for 112 persons with disabilities.  Their works include food delivery to the elders, making and delivery of lunchboxes.  
  • Organizing community events at the temporary housing complexes in Fukushima - AAR Japan have been organizing community gatherings events and overnight field trips for elementary school.  Since July,about 560 people participated in the events.
  • Providing radiation detectors so that people can check radiation levels of food they are consuming - As soon as the dosimeters arrive to the venue, AAR Japan plans on distributing the equipment to workshops that produce organic vegetables.
  • Building playgrounds in temporary housing units - AAR Japan installed equipments for playgrounds located in temporary housing complexes in Fukushima Prefecture since September.  They are now used by 640 children in Fukushima, and because of the equipments, they are exercising a lot more!
  • Providing bottle water to nurseries and kindergartens - There is a high demand from nurseris and kindergartens for safe drinking water in Fukushima.  AAR Japan has been providing safe bottled water for 4 kindergartens and children in temporary housing.
 
Thank you for your wonderful support!  These achievements were not possible without your contributions!
Workers from Keyaki Workshop
Workers from Keyaki Workshop
Children having fun at an overnight camp
Children having fun at an overnight camp
This equipment was built with YOUR contributions!
This equipment was built with YOUR contributions!
Playing with the new swing
Playing with the new swing
Safe water for the kids
Safe water for the kids
Jan 24, 2013

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

Though removing rubbles requires patience....
Though removing rubbles requires patience....

[Project]

Relief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake.

[Target Area]

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during October, November & December

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

[Community Reconstruction]

JEN has continued to engage in Community Reconstruction primarily through the establishment of numerous centers of psycho-social care and interaction called “Community Spaces”. 

Ms. Kieko Sanjo who now lives in a temporary housing with her husband at Otsupagawa district in the city of Ishinomaki used to live in the Nagatsura district in the same city before the disaster.

Her husband retired several years ago from a plywood company where he had worked for over thirty years and
from time to time helped his former fellow workers with their job to make money. Ms. Sanjo has two children,
who have already built families, and three grandchildren.

During the disaster Ms. Sanjyo was at home and so she was engulfed by the tsunami, managing to suck air through a slight gap left between ceilings and water surface. She desperately crawled herself up the stairs and, as she had been soaked to the skin by seawater with sludge, she wrapped her body in a curtain and a blanket to prevent the loss of body heat. Her house was completely destroyed.

The tsunami took the lives of her daughter-in-law (her first son's wife), her two grandchildren; high school junior and third-grade elementary school boy. When the earthquake came, her late daughter happened to be in the municipal government office. So she went pick up her eldest son from high school and then her second son from elementary school. At about 3 p.m. her husband got a mail from her, which said "I've picked up the eldest son and waiting for the second son to pick up at the elementary school right now." Right after that, the tsunami engulfed them, the school and all.



A footage of Nagatsura district shot in December 2011, still remained submerged.

--quote--"I've been blaming on me for old people like us having survived instead of young people like my daughter and grandchildren who could have opened the way to the future, if they had survived. I couldn't regret their deaths too much."

"While I was at home with doing nothing, I had painful time because I couldn't help being filled with their memories. Just the sight of children of similar age to my dead grandchildren made me feel tears welling up. I still can't help tears coming into my eyes when I remember my grand children. From about the end of the last year, whenever there was some event held at the meeting place, I encouraged me not to fail to take part so that I might put my mind on something else."

"Every time I went to the meeting place, I saw different people, but, as some were always there, I came to get friendly with them. Today, to see them and look at their shinning smiles is my energy source and emotional support. I can't tell you how that helped me heal my pain. Words alone could never express my gratitude to them. I think, thanks to those, I could feel calm, and came to live much more positive than last year."
"Since last spring I've got to think that I not only receive relief goods and encouragements but I should do something for other people. So I've decided to tell people 'I've got well like this. I thank everyone who helped me' through a fancywork that I've been doing for enjoyment for years. Now I'm volunteering to teach how to craft fancyworks at three locations including the temporary housing where I live."

"My eldest son who lives in another temporary housing bought a piece of land in inland area. I'm planning to open a fancywork class in his new house. When that becomes reality, I'll teach not as a volunteer but as a professional teacher. I'm also going to have volunteers who have supported us for tea parties and so I look forward to the completion of his house."

Many victims in disaster-stricken areas still live painful lives, suffering considerable psychological damage. JEN will continue to stand closely by every individual.


[Volunteer dispatch & Income Generation]

Whilst JEN continues to recruit volunteers from the public, it has so far succeeded in dispatching over 4000 participants to sludge and debris removal operations. 

In recent months, we have also noticed a shift in emphasis from “emergency relief” type operations,
such as the above, to “reconstruction assistance”, which focuses on social and economic rehabilitation,
through the planned revitalization of key local industries, not only fishery industry, but also agriculture.


One of the farmers in the area says that they have already tried to remove rubbles from the farmland several times,
but there still remain a lot of rubles buried. A farmer in the area says that his fraternity

JEN is restoring the farmland in contact with dozens of local farmer groups. The farmland was deadly damaged by the tsunami, for it is only one kilometer away from the coast. Therefore many farmers in this area have rented lots in different areas and restarted farming there. But at the same time, they are making steady efforts in seeking to restore their ancestral farmland. The farmers have removed large rubbles with heavy machinery, but that have buried small-to-medium-sized rubble into the ground.

If rubbles are left as they are, they will restrain farmers from cultivating the farmland with mechanical cultivator because rubbles damage the cultivator, that's why it's necessary to shovel rubbles off the farm land manually and patiently.

What needs to be done at end is separating rubbles by types of them.

You can get a distant view of a temporary rubble-yard.
At the end of the volunteer work farmers thanked the volunteers for their efforts and each volunteer replied how they felt about their work for the day.

"I realized there is still much work that needs to be done and even I can contribute. I'd like to come back."
"I had a quality time. I'd like to come back."

It was very striking that many of them with bright face said "I'd like to come back." under splendid fall weather. We JEN staff were also very happy to hear that.


There are no reliable prospects that to what extent farm land can be restored.
Though the farming community in this area decided to address the restoration of its farm land,
some farmer who have moved inland expresses mixed feelings---quote---"Even now, I get sick by just approaching the coast,"

JEN will address each and every issue at hand coordinating closely with agricultural groups and local communities.


A footage of Nagatsura district shot in Dec
A footage of Nagatsura district shot in Dec
Ms. Sanjo, talks cheerfully with JEN Staff
Ms. Sanjo, talks cheerfully with JEN Staff
A stepladder has been grubbed.
A stepladder has been grubbed.
Good work today! Residents and volunteers.
Good work today! Residents and volunteers.

Links:

Jan 15, 2013

High School students from Okayama visits Iwate

Dear Global Giving supporters,

Thank you for your continued support toward AMDA's activities. We appreciate your generosity.

In August 2012, two high school students from Okayama Koyo High School Interact Club members visited Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture to volunteer, and to exchange ideas with AMDA Otsuchi High School Club members. This project made possible thanks to the generous support from Okayama Seinan Rotary Club.

The escorting teacher of Okayama Koyo High School to this project commented later, “Both students received a huge impact from the disaster area. What they saw, and what they heard must have left a profound impression on them. After the visit to Otsuchi, their attitude changed in a good way.”

For a full report, please see the attached report.


Attachments:
Jan 14, 2013

Exploring Ways to Support Future Developments

Mountain School Office in Shop Tent
Mountain School Office in Shop Tent

In two months, the disaster-stricken Tohoku will be holding the second memorial service of the Higashi Nippon Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster which took place on March 11, 2011. Although many people have found their daily routines and ways of sustaining their lives, situations for many have not really improved. To make the situation worse, supports to them are diminishing day by day, forcing them to face real struggles for survival.

Our shop tent located in the mountain side of Isatomae in Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, is presently used only by a mountain school providing nature training to children throughout a year. It is used mostly on weekends. At a glance, it turned into a storage for keeping goods to be sold at the Fukko Temporary Shops down close to the ocean side. In a sense, the tent is still a useful facility to people in Isatomae. Learning about the development of an Isatomae rebuilding plan, I found that a consensus has not yet been well established delaying the start of reconstruction. Besides, I learned that the Fukko Temporary Shops will be moved to a closest place, while the main planned shop area will be elevated, thus reusing the tent as tent shops may not work out. But since it is located right next to a new community to be established in the mountain side, it will be used for community activities and continuously remain important to people in Isatomae. 

Since the population of Isatomae has dropped, shop owners are looking for ways to bring customers from outside of Isatomae. They are trying to reorganize traditional festivals to bring outside Isatomae supporters to take part in festivals. They also happen to receive huge supports from the J League Soccer teams, thus having a large number of Japanese soccer team flags. They are trying to expand this flag collection to international soccer teams, to bring their attention to Isatomae redevelopment. Any kind of your help in expanding this effort is very much appreciated. 

Talking about a new redevelopment plan, I came to recognize that diverse unique ways exist to link between new dikes and the characteristics of Isatomae community and to possibly be used to attract people from outside. I am contacting several friends of mine to see if certain projects can be started, though it is quite premature to disclose new ideas. In a visit, several hours are spend to exchange ideas and search for ways to link to the DSIA network. Thus, the DSIA help is shifting from sustaining the tent to providing ideas and linkages them to people in Tokyo to see if any future-oriented supports can be developed. 

Shop Tent Functioning as a Storage
Shop Tent Functioning as a Storage
J League Soccer Team Flags
J League Soccer Team Flags

Links:

Dec 31, 2012

Best Mercy Corps photos of 2012!

Newly hired woman in a bakery Mercy Corps supports
Newly hired woman in a bakery Mercy Corps supports

As we ring in the New Year, we spend time reviewing what has been done in 2012. Because of you, we at Mercy Corps were able to do some real life-changing work this year!

You are the reason Mercy Corps has expanded our small business program that has already created over 500 jobs in Japan to another area affected by the tsunami. Mercy Corps and our partner PlaNet Finance Japan are working with another bank, Abukuma Shinkin Bank, in the town of Minamisoma to offer reemployment and startup grants and loan interest payments for small businesses. Minamisoma not only experienced the force of the earthquake and tsunami, but it is only 20-30 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant and half of the city is inside the evacuation zone. Of the surviving population, many have left because of concerns about exposure to radiation. The triple disasters had a devastating effect on businesses and recovery in Minamisoma has been much slower than other tsunami-affected cities. In this difficult environment, because of you, there are signs of recovery and interest in restarting businesses. Thank you.

We like to see the people our supporters like you have impacted, and I bet you do too. Over 17,000 photos were collected from around the world this year and we would like to share some of them with you!

Check out our slide show of the ten best images from 2012 from our worldwide programs and witness photos of:

  • Mercy Corps training women to mediate land conflict in Guatemala.
  • Wiam, a seven-year-old girl living with just a suitcase and a cardboard box of belongings in the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan.
  • Thirteen-year-old Donatien playing a traditional game. He and his family fled to this new village during attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic.
  • Jhon, during his training as a mechanical engineer in our rehabilitation program in Colombia. Jhon escaped life as a child soldier with the FARC militants.

And many others!

These images capture the resilient and strong-willed spirit of those we work with just like those in Japan, but there is still so much to be done.

As you consider your end-of-year giving, I encourage you to donate to a Mercy Corps project through Global Giving. Continue to support this one or pick a different project to make a lifesaving difference for families in need:

With you, in 2013, we will continue to make it a brighter, healthier year for families in the world’s most desperate places. With your support, we can make it happen - together!

In gratitude,

Carlene Deits

Women being trained to mediate land conflicts
Women being trained to mediate land conflicts
Syrian refugee 7 year old Wiam in Jordan waits
Syrian refugee 7 year old Wiam in Jordan waits
After fleeing Joseph Kony
After fleeing Joseph Kony's LRA, boy plays game

Links:

Dec 21, 2012

You made change possible!

Japan
Japan

While crises happened last year in Japan, and the consequences continue even today, you have helped to save and change the lives for many men, women, children - and whole communities - in this part of the world.

Because of your compassion and generosity we were able to achieve so much in 2012. You made change possible!

The accomplishments shared below are a testament to the more than 70,000 donors (including you!) who’ve made this work possible. Because of you this is what we were able to do in Japan as well as other parts of the world:

  • Our loans helped 193 Japanese entrepreneurs get back to business and provide jobs after their enterprises were damaged or destroyed by the 2011 tsunami.
  • In Niger, more than 23,000 people — many of them severely malnourished children — got the food they needed to survive the Sahel’s devastating drought until the next harvest.
  • In Iraq, we taught 5,500 women to read — and learn their rights in a newly democratic country.

To show our appreciation, we have put together a slideshow to share how much we were able to accomplish because of your contribution. Check out how you have changed and transformed lives!

And if you haven't received a free 2013 Mercy Corps calendar we still have some left! Just e-mail your address to fundraising@mercycorps.org and we will happily send you one!

On behalf of the millions of people our work has touched this year, thank you!

In gratitude,

Carlene Deits

 

Links:

Nov 30, 2012

Just a few hours left to have your gift matched!

Good News! The deadline has been extended but you just have a few hours left!

You can make a huge difference in the lives of countless people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

GlobalGiving is still matching all donations (up to $1000 per donor) made to Mercy Corps’ Response to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami project until the end of today. The matching campaign ends on November 30, 2012 at 11:59pm EDT (13:59pm JST on December 1st) or until funds run out!

Donate now! Matching funds will go quickly! Tell your friends! Please encourage them to donate too!

The continued support from donors like you allows the people of Japan to rebuild their lives with dignity and options.

Mercy Corps has worked to provide life-saving basics to help people in desperate need, help children recover and heal from trauma, and continues to advance economic recovery by supporting fish markets, providing business loans, and supporting fishing associations.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at: fundraising@mercycorps.org. Also email me with your mailing address for a free 2013 Mercy Corps calendar.

Domo arigato for your support.

Links:

Nov 28, 2012

Volunteering construction of Community Center

2012 Points of Light Tribute Award
2012 Points of Light Tribute Award

Thank you very much for all your tremendous support which means so much to the people of Tohoku.  In September, Hands on Tokyo received the 2012 Points of Light Tribute Award for our continued Tohoku relief activities and, in November, we received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Ogatsu Rebuilding City Planning Committee.  These awards recognize the importance of your generous donations and the hard work of many dedicated volunteers.  We cannot do what we do without your support and, in the spirit of the American Thanksgiving holidays, we are very grateful for your continued support.

Since our last report, we made 5 relief trips to Tohoku and held activities and events with more than 60 volunteers, benefiting nearly 500 people.

We are very pleased to report that, since the groundbreaking ceremony on August 28th, the construction of the
Ogatsu Community Center is well underway.  We were very excited to see the progress during our last volunteer trip on November 17th/18th as shown in the photograph below.  In October, volunteers were able to contribute by removing spoiled boards from building frames so that the frames could still be used.  We hope that – with your generous support – Hands on Tokyo volunteers will be able to continue to assist with carpentry, painting and landscaping activities during the construction phase and then with ongoing community events once the new Community Center opens around February 2013.  As the tsunami washed away so many of the public and community buildings, this has been a tremendous milestone for the people of Ogatsu. 
The construction of this Community Center represents in a very real way the rebuilding of their community.  Once completed, it will house a library, a café run by local residents, offices for the Machizukuri Council and the
Recovery Project Committee, space for the preservation of local industry and traditional culture (such as fishing and ink stone crafts) and study and recreational areas. 

A key part of our current volunteer activities in Tohoku involves supporting and encouraging local residents as
they continue to rebuild their lives.  For example, we continue to support local farmers in Yamamoto-cho, in rebuilding their business.  Since our last report, Hands on Tokyo volunteers have helped them clear new land and
build a few more greenhouses so that they can grow more and different types of vegetables.  We hope that Hands on Tokyo volunteers will be able to continue to support these and other local farmers and businesses after the new
year. 

Hands on Tokyo volunteers also helped on two occasions to clean Arahama Beach (outside Ogatsu), which brought visitors and needed commerce to the local area prior to the March 11th disasters.  The tsunami and subsequent typhoons washed away nearly one-third of the beach and left many branches and other debris on the beach.  It was amazing to see how much of the natural beauty was restored after Hands on Tokyo volunteers finished working at the end of each day.  We hope such efforts will further encourage the local community and encourage visitors to return to the Ogatsu area.

Hands on Tokyo volunteers also ran four cafes at festivals in Ogatsu and temporary housing in Yamamoto-cho – serving yakisoba, pancakes with fruit and whipped cream, hot dogs, sweets and hot drinks.  The cafes are tremendously popular with many local residents stopping by to enjoy the food and camaraderie.  At each festival, we
served more than 300 hot drinks including freshly brewed coffee!  Food and beverages help people relax in an otherwise stressful environment and bring people together to share information and to simply say hello.  As so many
people are still living in temporary housing in locations quite far from their former neighbors and support networks, Hands on Tokyo remains very committed to further supporting and encouraging the people of Ogatsu through cafes and other activities.  Thank you in advance for making this possible through your generous donations.

Community Center under construction
Community Center under construction
Helping construction of Community Center
Helping construction of Community Center
Famous HOT cafe
Famous HOT cafe
Cleaning Arahama Beach
Cleaning Arahama Beach
HOT volunteers joined festival
HOT volunteers joined festival

Links:

Nov 26, 2012

iOS app and Mini Doc

We’re incredibly excited to announce the launch of the Safecast iOS app available in the App Store now. Last year we reached out to Nick Dolezal, creator of the most amazing GeigerBot, with some questions and ideas about his app. It didn’t take long for us to realize he would be a fantastic addition to the Safecast team and he agreed. We started brainstorming on what a Safecast iOS app might look like and what it might offer. The results of those continued discussions are live now. We’re most excited about the “virtual geiger counter” aspect to this app – using the GPS on your iPhone or iPad you can quickly see readings that have been taken around you. We’ve got the full Safecast dataset on board, as well as a handful of other publicly available radiation measurement data sets which gives a comprehensive exposure map for the US and Japan, with other areas being filled in as we collect those readings. There’s also the ability to connect your own geiger counter and take readings which can be submitted back to the Safecast Database.

We feel like this will be an incredibly useful application for just about anyone to have, and hope to keep improving it’s functionality as well grow. Enjoy!

The JapanTimes called it "strangely addictive" -- Download the iOS app now

Also, Tokyo based filmmaker Adrian Storey made this fantastic 3 minute documentary about Safecast for the Focus Forward Films competition and it’s made it to the semifinals! We’re really excited because not only is Adrian is an all around awesome dude, but he made an excellent film that hopefully many people will be able to check out and if he wins this competition Safecast will get some of the cash to help continue our efforts. If you have a moment and can go vote that would be much appreciated!

Nov 21, 2012

Special Update: Japan matching campaign extended!

Great news!  Global Giving's Japan Matching Campaign has been extended until November 30 11:59pm EST, so there's still time to have your donations doubled!

Again, during this campaign all donations will be doubled (matched 100% by Global Giving).  Please take this limited opportunity to double your donation in helping Architecture for Humanity Build Back Better Tohoku!

There are also bonus dollars of $1000 for the project that has the most unique amount of donors, so please help us spread the word - tell your friends, family, and colleagues, make phone calls, send emails, post on facebook, tweet on twitter, etc.  Here are some sample tweets:

  • Donations DOUBLED (matched 100%) for a limited time! Help @archforhumanity #BuildBackBetter #Tohoku by donating today! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/build-back-better-tohoku/
  • Don't miss this chance to DOUBLE your donation & help @archforhumanity help #Tohoku #BuildBackBetter! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/build-back-better-tohoku/ Spread the word!
  • 8 days left to DOUBLE your donation!  #Tohoku still needs your help. Help @archforhumanity help #Tohoku. Donate today! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/build-back-better-tohoku/

Any amount is greatly appreciated, as it helps us ensure that we continue helping Tohoku Build Back Better.

huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who has donated so far.  We have been able to raise nearly 2,500 dollars so far with your generous support.

kitakami construction   maeamihama groundbreaking   banya near completion

Recent updates on projects include:

  • Shizugawa Banya 
    Project near completion
  • Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center
    Using a unique method of construction called the "Itakura method," the pre-assembled boards were slotted between posts to form the perimeter of the building.  In only a few short days, the youth center has really begun to take shape!
  • Maeami-hama Community House
    We officially broke ground on November 4th with members of the Maeami community, KMDW, and Architecture for Humanity staff.  Construction hs begun, panels have arrived to the site, and column panels have begun to be assembled. 

These projects would not have been possible without your generous donation.  We cannot stress enough how much your donations mean to our program and hope for your continued interest and support!

 

Best Regards,
Architecture for Humanity

Nov 14, 2012

GlobalGiving donors heat up a home this winter!

From this December through February 2013, a children's home in Iwate prefecture will have their heating costs covered by GlobalGiving donations. The home is currently living in a pre-fabricated facility while they await the completion of their new children's home next summer. 
Since the disaster, the children (including the very young ones) have shown incredible patience and eco-consciousness. The home staff have been quite surprised and impressed by this acceptance and change in the children. Last winter, the night shift staff had difficulty sleeping each night due to the cold conditions in the home, but the children never complained! The plan again this winter is to use 10 oil stoves for each room and turn off at 9:00pm each night due to cost and safty reasons in their interim home. The children will sleep in sleeping bags with a couple of futon covers. Although they will be struggling to get over the cold winter, they have the English Adventure Snow Camp to look forward to in early January--again, thanks in part to GlobalGiving donors! Since their interim facility is quite small, the Snow Camp is a great opportunity for the kids and staff to seek relief from stress--while playing and learning in nature. 5 homes in Tohoku will have an opporutnity to participate in these camps, and we'll provide a full update on their adventures in January.
The home's staff and children are grateful for the support they are receiving to help heat their home and attend Snow Camp. Without continued support from around the globe, these homes would be facing a lot more challenges as they continue to move forward from the devastation of 3/11.
For the month of November only, GlobalGiving is holding a special 100% matching program for our projects with Tohoku children's homes. We hope that you'll check out this special program, and we thank all of our donors around the world who have truly helped make lives brigther in Tohoku. 
Stay tuned for updates in January about English Adventure Snow Camp, tutoring progress reports, and the Christmas Wish program
Wishing all of you around the world a safe, healthy, and peaceful end of year and New Year!
Warmest regards,
Living Dreams 
Nov 7, 2012

Special Update: Limited time to double donations!

Hello!

The Japan Matching Campaign ends in just a few short days!  Please help us by donating now to double your donation in helping Architecture for Humanity with our efforts to Build Back Better Tohoku!

Again, all donations will be doubled (matched 100% by Global Giving) until November 15 11:59pm EST or until matching funds run out.  This means that if you donate $25, another $25 will donated to us by Global Giving.  Please take this special opportunity to double your impact during this limited time!

Please also help us spread the word - tell your friends, family, and colleagues, make phone calls, send emails, post on facebook, tweet on twitter, etc.  Here are some sample tweets:

  • Donations DOUBLED (matched 100%) for a limited time! Help @archforhumanity #BuildBackBetter #Tohoku by donating today! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/build-back-better-tohoku/
  • Don't miss this chance to DOUBLE your donation & help @archforhumanity help #Tohoku #BuildBackBetter! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/build-back-better-tohoku/ Spread the word!
  • 8 days left to DOUBLE your donation!  #Tohoku still needs your help. Help @archforhumanity help #Tohoku. Donate today! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/build-back-better-tohoku/

You can share it in a fun way too!  One idea is to host a donation dinner party, where you have a computer set up to have friends give donations on the spot!

Any amount is greatly appreciated, as it helps us ensure that we continue helping Tohoku Build Back Better.

kitakami ridgepole raising ceremony   maeamihama foundation prep   banya near completion

Because Architecture for Humanity is often one of the last responders in the event of a disaster, our activities are now ramping up!

With your generous support, we have been able to work on a number of projects in the Tohoku region.  These have been specifically focused in the areas of Economic Development, Access to Sports, and Education and Welfare. To date, we have designed and constructed 7 projects, are currently constructing 3 more (check our here for more info), and have many more to come!  Recent updates on current projects include:

We are also very excited to announce that we will open our first regional office in Japan in just two weeks; a business support center for affected small and medium enterprises to aid in the development of a new and sustainable economic system in the Tohoku region.  Please follow our updates, posted on our Architecture for Humanity Tohoku page.

These projects would not have been possible without your generous donation.  We would like to sincerely thank you again.

We cannot stress enough how much your donations mean to our program and hope for your continued interest and support!

 

Best Regards,
Architecture for Humanity 

Nov 7, 2012

Halfway There

We’re halfway through GlobalGiving’s Japan Matching Campaign and we still need your help to reach our goal. Through November 15, GlobalGiving is matching donations to our Japan projects 100%—doubling the impact of your contribution!

Consider this: To express his gratitude for International Medical Corps' work in Japan, the Mayor of Minami-Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture recently presented us with a letter of appreciation. The Mayor’s thanks came for our help in renovating a government-owned community center, which is currently being used as a vocational training center for the disabled. We installed new bathrooms and ramps to make the center handicap-accessible.

And this represents just one of the most recent examples of International Medical Corps’ community-building activities in the aftermath of Japan’s devastating tsunami and earthquake. We’ve been on the ground helping Japan rebuild since 48 hours after the disaster last year. All of our current projects focus on Fukushima, where the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was damaged and people remain evacuated from their homes.

To help you support our work, GlobalGiving will match your donations to our Japan projects dollar for dollar between November 1 and 15.

So make sure to give before November 15 to make your gift count twice.

Thank you for your invaluable support for the people of Japan!

GlobalGiving’s “Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign” will provide $100,000 in matching funds to projects that are related to earthquake and tsunami recovery activities in Tohoku, Japan. All (online ONLY) donations through Global Giving will be matched 100%, up to $1,000 per donor and $25,000 per organization. The campaign runs from 12:01am on November 1 to midnight on November 15, 2012.

Nov 5, 2012

Monthly Report vol.18

Tohoku Earthquake Aid: Key Recovery as seen in “Seawall Study Workshop” In the affected areas of Tohoku, there is a combination of difficulties such as the relocation of houses to more elevated areas, disposal of debris from vast areas, employment security, and mental care for victims. For the people living in coastal areas, the subject of seawalls is one of the most controversial. A Seawall Study Workshop has been held around ten times during August and September by groups of volunteer residents in Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture. In Miyagi Prefecture, there is a plan to construct seawalls 3 to 11 meters in height divided into 22 blocks on the coastline. Even though the tsunami partially destroyed seawalls last March, there is the opinion that bigger seawalls are still necessary to prevent future disasters. On the other hand, there is the opinion that we should seek other preventive measures in consideration of the landscape and the ecological impact. As such, the workshop has become a means to advance the discussion on how to re-plan the community based on correct information; learn about legal aspects and local government policy, basic rules and the construction schedule; and exchange basic information within the district. Participants have been increasing - now numbering more than 100, and sometimes over 170. These workshops are not an opportunity for the people to express their opinion “for” or “against.” Moreover, the importance of expressing their own opinion from a local authority and civil standpoint has arisen with regards to reconstructing the community with cooperation from domestic and foreign advisers, also bearing in mind that the sea cannot be disregarded. In many of the affected areas of Tohoku, there have been demands to revitalize the area since before the disaster took place, as aging and depopulation is advancing. This is a common problem throughout Japan. The people are responsible for reconstruction as a concern for their livelihood, while the government authority is there to listen to the people. The first step for revitalization of the area is to discuss local revitalization. We entered the affected area by helicopter on the day following the incident and have been supporting the local residents in procuring and delivering aid goods. We have also been building on relationships with the local residents, advancing a network of intellectual resources and working on a mid to long term support program. Specifically, the introduction of an emergency medical helicopter, vitalization of tourism, renewable energy, and group relocation and reconstruction of community planning are main projects that are developing with the mid to long term viewpoint on reconstruction assistance projects. Details will be uploaded on our website whenever the occasion arises.

For the further information, please find attachment or http://www.civic-force.org/english/.


Attachments:
Nov 2, 2012

Vegetable Gardening Project for Evacuees

Residents gathered around a table to take a break
Residents gathered around a table to take a break

Growing Vegetables as an Opportunity for Community Interaction

Before the disaster, many of those living in temporary housing complexes along the shoreline of Miyagi Prefecture used to grow vegetables on their farms or in their home gardens. However, their lands and gardens were washed away in the tsunami, making it difficult for them to secure land and restart their farmwork. They used to be physically active through their daily farmwork, but many of them are now suffering from lack of exercise since the disaster. With the added stress of having to cope with their prolonged lives in the temporary housing complexes, some are starting to show signs of hikikomori (social withdrawal).

 In such situation, activities that involve plowing vacant plots of land and growing vegetables are becoming popular in disaster-affected areas among the survivors in the effort to regain their original lives and to solve the problem of lack of exercise. AAR Japan is currently supporting survivors by preparing pieces of land that can be used as vegetable gardens as well as providing farming tools. By working cooperatively on their new gardens, people have naturally begun to converse with each other more and show smiles.

Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture: “We are Happy to be able to Eat What We Made on Our Own”

Extending even into its mountainous area, the tsunami had a catastrophic effect on Onagawa Town located on the Sanriku coast. There are still many people living in temporary housing complexes.

Mr. Yoshihiro TAKAHASHI, the chairman of Onagawa Town Shimizu District Council, spearheaded the creation of a vegetable garden using a vacant piece of land in front of the temporary housing complex. There is a river next to the land so there is plenty of water that can be used for the garden. However, this area was hit by the tsunami so rubbles and rocks had to be removed first in order to use the land as a garden. In addition, the soil was sterile and lacked the minerals needed for healthy growth of vegetables.

In response, AAR Japan provided a small farm tractor, farming tools such as sickles, hoes, and shovels, a storage room to keep all the tools, 2 tons of new soil, and organic fertilizer, among other materials. As for the removal of rubbles, students from the Tohoku Welfare University and members of the Onagawa Recovery Support Center offered their help. There were many big rocks and the clearing process was not a smooth task, but a 450 square-meter vegetable garden was successfully completed after removing the rocks little by little and placing the new soil into the prepared plot of land.

This garden was named as “Fureai Noen” by the users. As the land became settled and the vegetables began to grow, smiles on the faces of people chatting as they pulled weeds or watered the vegetables, and mothers preparing snacks for afternoon tea time, have become more noticeable.

Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture: Working Together to Set Up Greenhouses

At Uchihibiki temporary housing complex, Ms. Tomiko FUKUDA, a local resident, garnered support from the community council chairperson and a local support center and initiated the creation of a vegetable garden on a piece of land located next to the complex, which was to be shared among the residents. AAR Japan decided to provide farming tools such as hoes and shovels, a storage room, and greenhouses to what they named “Hibiki Farm”. With the greenhouses, the residents can grow vegetables even when it is cold.

On May 13th, the greenhouses were set up with mainly the help from the men living in Uchihibiki temporary housing complex. Despite the ground being muddy following heavy rain, they managed to complete setting up the frames with the help of AAR Japan staff members, which took an entire day. 2 weeks later, on May 28th, volunteers from the Nishihonganji Tohoku division came to help the residents covering the frames with vinyl.

The completed greenhouses will start to be used around October. All the other pieces of land have been allocated to the residents, with roughly 25 residents starting to grow vegetables. Residents who previously rarely interacted with each other have begun to talk to one another through their activities at Hibiki Farm.

Regaining Their Spirit through Gardening

In addition to the above two cases, AAR Japan is providing agricultural support to disaster survivors in other areas such as “Tsuchi wo Aisuru Kai” in Higashi-Matsushima City, and “Umakko Noen” and “Mizunuki Noen” in Ishinomaki City through the provision of farming tools and planters, installation of wells, and preparation of land.

The activity of making vegetables is well received even among the elderly and men who have had the tendency of isolating themselves in their homes, as they have found it easy to participate in something where they can utilize their skills. AAR Japan will continue to support such disaster survivors so that they can engage in a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

Community building through farming. Fureai Group
Community building through farming. Fureai Group
Removing debris and rocks to clean up the garden
Removing debris and rocks to clean up the garden
Students from Princeton University volunteering
Students from Princeton University volunteering
Result of all the efforts. Vegetables grow nicely
Result of all the efforts. Vegetables grow nicely
Building Green House at Hibiki Farm
Building Green House at Hibiki Farm
Hibiki Group Photo. Cooperation is key to success
Hibiki Group Photo. Cooperation is key to success
Oct 31, 2012

100% Donation Matching for Japan recovery!

Daycare Center - International Medical Corps
Daycare Center - International Medical Corps

Dear GlobalGivers,

We are very excited to announce that starting today, November 1, we're matching your donations dollar-for-dollar toward qualified projects that focus on  long-term recovery in Japan.  

We work with 20 organizations that are helping Japanese people recover from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  For example, ETIC helped Naoko rebuild a shopping area that had been destroyed. The new shopping area is now revitalizing the local economy.  In Minamisanriku-cho, Architecture for Humanity is about to finish up rebuilding a workplace for fishermen in the tsunami-stricken area.  You can read more updates directly from the field here.  Your donations have made it possible for our partners to restore the communities.  Thank you!

Although our partners have made great strides toward long-term recovery, there is still so much more to be done.  We invite you to take advantage of this great opportunity to double the impact of your donations toward these important projects. 
Thank you again for your support,
Mari Seto and the GlobalGiving Team
New Shopping Street - ETIC
New Shopping Street - ETIC
Naoko, a Fellow from ETIC - ETIC
Naoko, a Fellow from ETIC - ETIC
A Community Coming Back to Life - DSIA
A Community Coming Back to Life - DSIA

Links:

Oct 31, 2012

Regaining livelihoods and hope in Minamisanriku

Udatsu Fishing Cooperative employees in new office
Udatsu Fishing Cooperative employees in new office

It is easy to see progress at the Udatsu Fishing Cooperative in Minamisanriku.  Several months after the tsunami, the Cooperative built a small office to restore its operations.  Peace Winds was there to provide office equipment that the Cooperative could not afford.  From this small building the Udatsu Fishing Cooperative has led recovery efforts for its 400 members in northern Minamisanriku. 

In June 2012 the Cooperative expanded its building.  Again Peace Winds was there to outfit the new space with computers and a high-speed printer. Cooperative President Chiba-san expects the printer to reduce outsourced printing costs by 70 percent, saving the Cooperative nearly $400 every month. The equipment will enable the Cooperative to better communicate with members through newsletters and email alerts.      

With your support we are making a difference in the northeast Japan.

Progress is also apparent for Udatsu Fishing Cooperative members, who had a successful wakame seaweed harvest in the 2012 spring.  Peace Winds provided seaweed processing equipment.  Now the fishing families are preparing for the fall/winter 2012 abalone season.  Peace Winds is again delivering the necessary equipment - rods, hooks, abalone locators, and specialized paddles - for the first abalone harvest since the tsunami.

Peace Winds continues to work with the Udatsu Fishing Cooperative and its 400 members to accelerate economic recovery.  You can help!  From November 1 to 15, 2012, Global Giving will match 100% donations to the Revitalize the Fishing Industry in Northeast Japan project page.

Please spread the word about this great matching opportunity to your family and friends.  Together we can help even more fishing families and communities regain their livelihoods.

Thank you for supporting disaster recovery in Japan!

The Udatsu Cooperative expanded in June 2012.
The Udatsu Cooperative expanded in June 2012.
The Udatsu Cooperative office in October 2011
The Udatsu Cooperative office in October 2011
Oct 31, 2012

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: October 2012

November 2012 Tohoku Newsletter Banner

Hello,

Temperatures have dropped, the days are shortening, and Fall foliage is currently at its best in the Tohoku region, fully signifying Autumn.  November begins with Culture day (bunka no hi) on the 3rd, promoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavor.  Many culture related events occur this month, so take this opportunity to participate!  Later in the month is Labor Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi) on the 23rd, commemorating labor and production and giving thanks to one another.  We would like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to everyone who has supported us in our efforts!

With November just around the corner, our activities are ramping up!  We have had some exciting news in the past month, and special events coming up, including Global Giving's Japan matching campaign beginning November 1st.  Please read below for details! 

As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.

We hope you're enjoying season and are happily welcoming the upcoming winter.

 


 

NEWS 

Double your impact in supporting our efforts in Tohoku!  

Global Giving is running a special matching campaign from November 1 - 15, for projects working on Tohoku recovery and relief efforts.  During this period, Global Giving will match 100% of all donations made through their site, up to $1,000 per donor per project until funds run out.  

Please take this opportunity to support us in helping the Tohoku region.  Any amount can go a long way!

There is only a limited amount in matching funds available, so please consider supporting us as soon as it begins at 12:01 EDT on November 1, 2012 (13:01 JST on November 1st) on our Tohoku fundraising page.  Please also tell your friends, family, and colleagues about this special opportunity - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network, or just bring us up in conversation!  

We greatly appreciate every donation made, as it helps ensure that we continue helping the Tohoku region.

 

Office Opening

We are happy to announce that we will be opening our Ishinomaki office in just a few weeks!  This is our first regional office in Japan, and will act as a business support center for affected small and medium enterprises to aid in the development of a new and sustainable economic system in the Tohoku region.

 

First Job Creation

Yukino HaranoWe recently had the opportunity to provide advice  and presentation training to Harako Yukino in her application for a subsidy from the Cabinet office.  We are very happy to hear that she was able to pass the screening and receieve a subsidy to start up her business in Ishinomaki - something she could not have done without the money.

She will start an acupuncture clinic (home visit service) geared towards: elderly who live in temporary housing who would otherwise have difficulty receiving these services, and young mothers who are under much stress, raising children in their community without relatives to rely on.  She will also provide oil massage seminars for mothers to eventually hire as an assistant or independent therapist, thus creating new job opportunities for locals.

We're looking forward to seeing her success!

 


 

UPDATES

looking above to catch rice cakes being thrownKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center (in construction)

The ridgepole-raising ceremony (jyotoushiki) was held on October 15th.  This ceremony is held across Japan to pray for the continued safety of the workers and project construction.  Following the ceremony, carpenters climb up scaffolding with boxes full of red and white colored (colors used at celebratory events) sweet rice cakes and coins wrapped in paper and thrown out to the community.  Many neighbors came out to celebrate and pray for this unique event.  Check out a video of this special event made by our Japan staff here!

 

Banya building near completionShizugawa Fishermen's Workplace "Banya" and Oyster Bar (in construction) 

On October 26, our design fellow Toru met with Mr. Sato (our client) at the site to check the state of construction.  Construction of the roof has been completed, and sashes installed.  With only a few minor fixes to make, the project is very near completion!

 

Maeami reviewing drawings on siteMaeami-hama Community House (in construction)

On a breezy and cold Sunday morning, staff from KMDW (architect of record), local fishermen, and AFH design fellows, joined contractors in preparing for the concrete pour of the foundation.  Holes were drilled into the perimiter of the existing foundation,  portions of the site were excavated, and rebars set in place.  Unfortunately, concrete is still difficult to obtain in this region (especially on schedule) with the many rebuilding projects occuring in this area.  With only the concrete pour remaining, construction of the foundation will be complete, once the concrete is delivered.

 


 

EVENTS

Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign

During November 1 00:01 EDT - November 15 23:59 EDT, all donations to our Tohoku project through Global Giving will be matched 100%.  Double your impact by participating in this campaign!

 

Seminar by MAKOTO

Business development seminars in Ishinomaki.  

Dates:  November 23, December 7, December 14, December 21, January 11, and January 25 from 18:00~19:30

Place:  AFH Ishinomaki Office

For more information and to register, email us with your name, address, phone, and email.

 


 

TOHOKU PROJECT STATUS REPORT

In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" - CA 95%
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  - CA 50%
Maeami-hama Community House - CA 05%

Completed
Akahama Covered Alley - Completed Jul/2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative - Completed Jul/2012
Paper Crane Sculpture - Completed Jan/2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku - Completed Dec/2011
Ohya Green Sports Park - Completed Dec/2011
Hikado Marketplace - Completed Jul/2011

CA Construction Administration / ; CD Construction Documents / ; DD Design Development / ; SD Schematic Design / ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases

Links:

Oct 30, 2012

In "Topping Out" Kitakami Market, rains are sweet

October 15, the Kitakami "We Are One" market and youth center celebrated a milestone in construction: the roof laying or "topping out" ceremony. Common to construciton projects, the ceremony brings with it some rituals that have over time become staples amonst the community, and dozens gather to share with the builders and architects a pleasant afternoon. See photos and video brought to us by the Architecture for Humanity Japan team:

Folks gathering from as far as the Nikkori Sun Park temporary housing units
Folks gathering from as far as the Nikkori Sun Park temporary housing units


...To what will be the "Topping Out" Roof Framing completion ceremony at the Market

Among the heavy timbers and framed roofs, a shrine is built to honor the Mountain goddess
Among the heavy timbers and framed roofs, a shrine is built to honor the Mountain goddess

Construction crew gathers on site
Builders, architect and design fellows gather at the temporary shrine

Shrine detail
The shrine in detail. Food and sake offerings

Meanwhile, outside...
Meanwhile, another group gathers outside...

Honoring the mountain goddess: two bow, two clap, one bow
Aki takes his turn to honor the mountain goddess

A song is sung by the priest
Individual honors followed by song 

Setting up for the last part of the ceremony
Setting up for the last part of the ceremony

People seem to know what's coming
People seem to know what's coming

GO!!
GO!! The sweet buns and yen are showered down to the community

As multigenerational as it gets...
A ceremony as multigenerational as it gets

Make room for the gents
Make way for the gents...

Some bits are reminiscent of Halloween. May be just human nature to count your "stash"
Some bits are reminiscent of Halloween here in North America. The counting of one's stash may be universal

Udon noodles served after. Delish.
Afterwords, udon noodles are served from an open tent #delish

The Team's 7-minute video of the day provides a great sense of the people living in Kitakami:

http://youtu.be/qpCWlEW-1ZI

Oct 30, 2012

We Are So Close

We are only $24,307 away from reaching our campaign goal of $185,000! And thanks to an exciting campaign through Global Giving, this is our chance to reach it.

Between November 1 and 15, Global Giving will match your donations to our Japan projects dollar for dollar. If you donate $50, it becomes $100. If you donate $250, it becomes $500. You get the picture. Here’s why it matters:

As you well know, International Medical Corps was on the ground 48 hours after Japan’s tsunami and earthquake. We delivered essential items and health services to thousands of displaced families and evacuees—everything from food to household items to heaters and stoves for the cold winter months.  And we stayed—because healing hearts and minds doesn’t happen overnight.

In the past several months, International Medical Corps has focused on addressing the trauma of Japanese citizens by providing vital mental health services and training local health providers. For example, we trained 86 staff members of the Tokyo English Life Line and 93 other frontline workers in psychological first aid and held 8 workshops for 300 parents and teachers on how to create a supportive environment for children.

International Medical Corps has also created several safe community spaces and forged long-term partnerships with local NGOs to link evacuees with critically-needed social services and support networks.  For example, we run a daycare facility, in partnership with the International Volunteer Center of Yamagata, for the children of Fukushima evacuees and maintain several community spaces where all persons affected by the disaster can interact with one another and obtain essential information regarding relevant services.

Through these efforts and many more, we are helping to bring host and evacuee communities together to engage in community-building activities and support each other through Japan’s rebuilding process.

But we need your help to keep going.

Making a donation between November 1 and November 15 doubles your impact and ensures that International Medical Corps can continue to provide critical services to the Japanese people.

This means that we can reach our goal and, together, we can help heal Japan.

So make your donation today to make your donation count twice!

The three main areas of Tohoku that were affected by the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami include Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, where the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was damaged and people remain evacuated from their homes. All of International Medical Corps’ current projects focus on Fukushima. 

Global Giving’s “Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign” will provide $100,000 in matching funds to projects that are related to earthquake and tsunami recovery activities in Tohoku, Japan. All (online ONLY) donations through Global Giving will be matched 100%, up to $1,000 per donor and $25,000 per organization. The campaign runs from 12:01am on November 1 to midnight on November 15, 2012.

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 26, 2012

Our Thank you gift to you: 2013 Calendar

Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps' 2013 Wall Calendar

Thank you for your support. Because you have put your caring into action to Mercy Corps through GlobalGiving, we are able to make a positive impact on lives affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. To show our appreciation, we'd like to give you a Mercy Corps calendar as a thank you and daily reminder of how you are changing lives!

Because of you, Mercy Corps is able to offer several programs to local entrepreneurs of Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures including: 

  • Start-up grants: grants of up to JPY 1.5 million (~$20,000) support new businesses and services in the tsunami-affected towns. 
  • Re-employment grants: provides up to JPY 100,000 (~$1,250) per month per employee for one or two employees per business for a year to support the re-employment of those who were laid off by the disaster. The grant covers roughly half of the salary of the employee. These grants help cash-strapped recovering businesses to re-employ staff and quickly revive production.
  • Loan Interest Subsidies: pays the interest on loans averaging JPY 10 million (~$125,000) through a two year grace period during which no principle payments are due. The program encourages existing businesses – many of which are still paying off loans for businesses that were destroyed in the tsunami – to borrow the capital necessary to re-build.
  • Accessibility Grants: grants of up to JPY 1 million (~$12,500) facilitate accessibility for people with disabilities, either as entrepreneurs, customers or employees. 

We could not offer these programs without you!

To receive your free 2013 Mercy Corps wall calendar, please send an email to fundraising@mercycorps.org with your mailing address! Your address will not be used for any other purpose than mailing you this calendar.

If you are a resident of the Portland, Oregon metro area, please keep in mind that Mercy Corps has several upcoming free events that we would love for you to attend. Tuesday evening on October 30th, we have team members share their stories from the field of how positive changes are being made. Please click here for details of this and other upcoming events and exhibits. If you'd like to attend or receive a monthly email of these events, let us know! This email address will not be added to Mercy Corps' bigger email list. 

Also, if you are considering donating to Mercy Corps, we would be most grateful if you donate in early November as GlobalGiving will be matching gifts for a short time to Mercy Corps' Response to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami project. Details will be in the next project report.  

As the end of 2012 quickly approaches, thank you in advance for keeping Mercy Corps in mind as a donation option to change additional lives for the better!

Again, thank you!

Mr. Sato
Mr. Sato's steel fabricating plant in Ofunato

Links:

Oct 22, 2012

Happy to See Shops to Grow Out of Shop Tent

Government-provided Temporary Shopping Complex
Government-provided Temporary Shopping Complex

     It was very nice to see the Government-established temporary shops (now I call the Isatomae Community Shopping Complex = ICSC) with full of people and interesting events (Picture 1), such as singing, games, fireworks, etc. on Saturday, October 20, 2012, when I visited Isatomae in Minami-sanrikucho, Miyagi Prefecture. People there are now feeling that the community is on its way for reconstruction. I learned from the Head of our Shop Tent (also the Vice Head of the ICSC) that the last two shops in the tent moved out. Learning about such change, I went to see the Shop Tent only to find closed. On Saturday when I expected to see many activities, the tent was extremely quiet and was even locked (Picture 2). I learned that the nature school still operates there when scheduled and the tent still functions as the place for community activities and storage. But this sad situation for me was really a sign of recovery, development and our success, which we have been working for.

     I went to see shop owners of the last two shops. The barber opened a very nicely decorated and modern shop a little bit off the center of ICSC only a few days ago (see Picture 3). But the pre-fabricated complex was really nice, and the barber was really happy to be able to restart her own shop. She must have saved a fairly big sum by operating in the free-of-charge Shop Tent, though she had to put up with hot or extremely cold temperature during summer or winter respectively. She decided to locate her shop in a little elevated place, since she does not have to move out to raise the ground-level two years later. Also, a sake shop owner opened a small container shop (see Picture 4), which is very easy to remove, right next to the ICSC. The two owners were extremely thankful to the operation of the tent. As a matter of fact, without a long period of tent operation, they could not have started the present shops. When they expressed deep appreciation of our help, I am firmly convinced that the tent played a key role in the early phase to help Isatomae people to move forward despite enormous difficulties they were facing.

     The government will first of all build an eight-meter-high dike along the coast, but it will also raise the present roads by five meters and build a shop area right next to the ocean after raising the land level by three meters. Shops will remain close to the ocean, while houses will be built in places as high as 30 to 50 meter above the sea level. But following the government plan means that within two years or so, the ICSC has to move out of the present place again to raise the land level, and that it will take another two years before all constructions will be completed. For four more years, they will continue to use temporary facilities including our Shop Tent. The Head of Shop Tent gave me a planning map, and to my great surprise, the newly established housing area will be located very close to the Shop Tent (Picture 5). This suggests that the tent will be again fully used two years later to accommodate temporary shops and possibly long after as a community center.

     Now, the present role of the DSIA is advancing to a new stage to help the ICSC alive and active. It intends to support their activities during another torturous and long period of transition. At this moment, it is very difficult for them to think two years ahead other than developing a blue print, since they are really preoccupied with making their living especially by bringing back supporters from non-disaster-affected areas and reactivating their economy. As a matter of fact, there were four or five mobile kitchen cars in the ICSC on Saturday, whose operators came all the way from Tokyo simply to make events lively and donate earnings to the ICSC. The volunteer work of such people now makes a drastic difference to support reconstruction activities.

Quiet and Closed Shop Tent
Quiet and Closed Shop Tent
New Barber Shop
New Barber Shop
New Sake Shop
New Sake Shop
Development Plan and Shop Tent
Development Plan and Shop Tent

Links:

Oct 16, 2012

Making It Feel Like Home

Daycare Center
Daycare Center

A year and half has passed since Japan’s tsunami and earthquake, but many people have still not been able to return home due to high radiation levels in Fukushima, the site of Japan’s nuclear meltdown following the natural disasters.

It remains crucial that Fukushima’s evacuees continue to receive the support they need to thrive in their “homes away from home.” That’s why International Medical Corps brings host and evacuee communities together to jointly engage in recovery efforts and community-building activities.

Our latest collaboration supports evacuee mothers as they return to work or seek employment. We recently opened a daycare center in Fukushima prefecture with our local partner, International Volunteer Center of Yamagata, and a group of evacuee-mothers. The center provides a safe, nurturing environment for evacuee children so that their mothers can focus on earning a living and supporting their families. It is the first local, full-time facility of its kind.  

One evacuee mother said, "When I read the news of the opening of the child care center and realized that there were people ready to support us, I was so happy that I couldn't stop crying."

Imagine that kind of joy. Know the part you played in it. And make sure to check out these photos to see what you’ve helped build

As always, thank you for your unwavering support!

P.S. Mark your calendars for Global Giving’s upcoming “Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign.” Every dollar you donate to our Japan projects between November 1 and 15 will be matched 100% by Global Givingdoubling the impact of your investment in Japan’s future. We’ll see you back on Global Giving then!  

Oct 16, 2012

AMDA Invites High School Students from Tohoku

Thank you Global Giving donors for your continued support to the high school students in Tohoku, Japan.

In July 2012, students from Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture visited Okayama where AMDA Headquarter is located, to interact with students in Okayama. Through the same generation exchange program, our hope was it would bring the power of recovery for the affected students. For the students in Okayama where natural disasters are rare, it would give them an opportunity to realize the need of preparedness for the possible future disasters.

Students who participated during the 6-day program said they cried some, laughed a lot, enjoyed new friendship, and lots of email addresses were exchanged among themselves.

For full story, please read the attached file. 

Links:


Attachments:
Oct 11, 2012

Fellow's story: rebuilding shopping street

shopping street
shopping street

In November 2011, eight months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Naoko Tanesaka joined Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project as a Fellow to revitalize local shopping street completely destroyed by the tsunami. Rikuzentakata is a seaside town of 24,000 people that lost 48 percent of its homes. More than 1,500 people died.

Local shop owners who lost their premises wanted to restart their business, as a step toward economic and community revitalization. However, when Naoko started to work for the project, utilities such as electricity and water supply had not yet recovered. The local government administrative functions didn’t work effectively and they could not receive subsidies.

Before joining the project, Naoko worked for many store development and renovation projects. Fully utilizing her expertise, she made a large contribution to the restart of the shopping street in February 2012, while building trusting relationships with shop owners and residents. She also supported sales promotion campaigns to attract people both inside and outside of the town.

More than one year has passed since the earthquake. Now, local people can purchase foods and necessities. However, there are a few entertainment opportunities and some people, especially those who are living in temporary housing, have been feeling very depressed. So, Naoko promoted various events where local people can gather and interact with others to revitalize the local community.

Naoko said, “I believe that the most important thing for local people is that they can stand on their own feet again toward sustainable recovery. I will continue to support local shop owners who want to continue their business in this town.”

Naoko Tanesaka, a Fellow
Naoko Tanesaka, a Fellow

Links:

Oct 10, 2012

Summer FUN brings some relief and hope to Tohoku children's homes

English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp

Summertime is always a great opportunity to provide our Tohoku children's homes with some old-fashioned summer activity fun--offering relief from the school year and also from their distressed communities. Only 17 months post 3/11, children's homes are feeling stronger and spirits are improving every day. This improvement is certainly attributed to special ongoing support programs that are offered to our netowrk of homes--thanks, in large part, to our GlobalGiving donor community. Fall has now arrived in the Tohoku region, but the memories created these past few months still remain strong in the children's minds. Home staff are especially grateful for the support their children have been receiving... it fills all of their hearts to know there is a large community (near and far) helping them in their healing process. Please continue reading on to find a snapshot of several summer 2012 support programs which took place at various Tohoku locations, with an additional profile on a fall program kicking off this month... 

Summer BBQ/Outdoor Sports Festival--Fukushima Prefecture

17 English teachers, 15 staff members and 43 children took part in this special outing held at a Fukushima prefecture children's home. Volunteers arrived in the morning, first prepping all of the BBQ meats and veggies, while giving the kids a chance to help out and interact with foreigners. Many of these volunteers have become "regular" visitors at the home which creates a comfortable rapport with the children and provides new experiences for them to open up to adults. 

Perfect weather helped ensure plenty of outdoor playtime and since the home had an upcoming dodgeball and softball tournament, the volunteers helped the kids to practice. After working up a good sweat, a water balloon fight ensued and volunteers put out a giant tarp coated with dish soap, creating a 'slip n slide' for kids to enjoy. 

Something as simple and easy as a BBQ feast and outdoor sports made for a lot of laughter and high spirits at the home that day.

English Adventure Camp--All Tohoku

This is the second summer several Tohoku homes had an opportunity to participate in a five-day, four-night summer camp outing. The camp provides experiences in nature, outdoor fun activities, and team building skills--all blended in with some English learning in a fun environment!

Held at the National Hanayama Youth's Nature home in Miyagi prefecture, kids had the opportunity to interact with international staff members, all the while practicing their English. Many kids do not have an opportunity to speak English on a regular basis, so it was a great experience for them to do so in a relaxed and fun environment. It was also the first time many kids had been away from the home for as long as five days!

Kids enjoyed and experienced a variety of activities. 'Green Adventure' was a favorite among some campers--where kids were presented questions about the forest and had to search for answers by observing the forest! Climbing was another activity providing children with a chance to overcome a challenge. They climbed onto high places, walked along wooden logs, and climbed up poles. And everyone seemed to get such a kick out of 'stream climbing' - where they walked up and down stream, jumped in and out of the water, and watched one of the camp counsellors climb up a waterfall structure! Kids also experienced some basic "mountaineering" skills--learning how to use a compass to navigate their hike and even participated in a nighttime hike where many fireflies were spotted. Star gazing, campfires, and dips in the onsen rounded out an amazing summer camp adventure for many children.  

Mosquito Screens Purchase--Iwate Prefecture

One home in Iwate prefecture required 5 mosquito screens for all of their home's doors and entryways. As they are currently living in a pre-fabricated facility (while their home is under a planned and necessary reconstruction), it was much appreciated that they could easily open their doorways this summer without being bothered by pesky mosquitos.

Exam Cram Tutoring Program--Iwate Prefecture

Beginning this month, a home in Iwate prefecture will begin a five month 'Exam Cram' program for many of their children. Ranging in age from 9-15 years old, these kids will get focused academic tutoring support at a local Exam Cram facility. The home's educational environment has been struggling due to having only one paid tutor for the entire home. Further, their immediate area has no university currently open due to the tsunami disaster and local buses are scarce (with only a few services each day), making it difficult for any university students to consistently make the trek to the home from another town. Therefore, having the funds to put towards sending their children to the academic facility will provide these kids with distinct opportunities to improve their academic skils and situation.

English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
English Adventure Summer Camp
Oct 9, 2012

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

Beach cleansing operation in Shirahama.
Beach cleansing operation in Shirahama.

Project

Relief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake. 

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during July, August & September

[Community Reconstruction]

JEN has continued to engage in Community Reconstruction primarily through the establishment of numerous centers of psycho-social care and interaction called “Community Spaces”.  Two recent additions to JEN’s growing catalogue of completed spaces include “Hama-yu”, a pre-fab hut by the sea in Sasunohama village, and Koganehama Community Hall.  Both function as platforms for social events that benefit the local community, as well as JEN’s base of operations for its various activities in the area, such as providing fishermen with fishing equipment and local communities with voluntary services.

As expressed by a participant at the inauguration ceremony of Hama-yu, the importance of such centers of social interaction cannot be understated in that there is a crucial need for communal spaces in which not only the long-term residents but also temporary evacuees and former inhabitants can mingle and strengthen relations.  A similar sentiment was reiterated during a cooking event held after a disaster drill at a community hall, in which the general principles behind the selection process of temporary housing schemes were revealed to have been based on lottery and the avoidance of areas affected by the tsunami.  Consequently, residents from different regions or hometowns became neighbors, and a need to cast aside background differences arose, as well as for the presence of shared spaces in which social interaction could be encouraged through workshops and other communal events, exemplified by the festival which took place in July in the fully renovated Koganehama Hall. Besides events initiated and organized by JEN, its staff and dispatched team of volunteers have participated in a handful of seasonal festivals, as well as commemorative events such as the Buddhist rites which took place at the opening of Ishinomaki port to pray for the repose of victims’ souls, in order to strengthen the already considerable bond it has fashioned with local communities.

[Mudbusters are turning into…]

Whilst JEN continues to recruit volunteers from the public, it has so far succeeded in dispatching over 4000 participants to sludge and debris removal operations.  In recent months, we have also noticed a shift in emphasis from “emergency relief” type operations, such as the above, to “reconstruction assistance”, which focuses on social and economic rehabilitation, through the planned revitalization of key local industries.  An example typifying both types of pursuits can be identified in the beach cleaning operation which took place at Shirahama, Jyusanhama District, on August 18th, 19th, 28th and 29th, conducted with the mid-term goal of the eventual reopening of the former bathing resort in sight.  Amongst the 20 volunteers who joined us in cleaning up the beach every day was the large presence of junior high and high school students from all over the country. 

In the hope of attracting visitors and contributing to the local economy, the Kitakami general branch office of municipal government have announced plans to erect an 8.4 meters high levee in January 2014, prior to reopening the beach, which formerly drew in over ten thousand beach-goers per year.

[Income Generation]

In disaster-struck communities with severely debilitated economies, income generation is arguably the most crucial factor in “reconstruction assistance”.  In the case of Ishinomkai and its environs, this has chiefly taken on the form of fishery reconstruction, the area’s primary means of economy.  As most harbour facilities and fishing equipment were devastated or swept away by the tsunami, the initial steps towards the recovery of the fishing industry are to supply the fishermen with necessary tools of their trade. 
Working under the auspices of the Japan Fishery Cooperative Association, JEN has continued to provide fishery support in ten coastal areas, including a job creation project initiated in the four coasts of Omotehama, Higashihama, Urahama and Ishinomaki, distributing material required for the production of fishing nets, which are in turn manufactured by the local fishermen themselves.  Such nets are but one amongst a growing list of equipment supplied by JEN to the local fishery, including skytanks, a forklift truck, palettes, a kelp cropping machine, plastic catch containers as well as the latest addition, a “dou”- a special trap to catch the congers that are in season now.
Another note-worthy contribution is the construction of prefabricated “Banya”s, or a fisherman’s lodge in the local vernacular, the first of which was constructed in Momoura, where 16 fishermen, living far from their workplaces in temporary or rented private houses, are attempting to recover the area’s coastal fishing, including some who commute eighty kilometers from Sendai city.  The Banya will allow the fishermen to conduct a portion of their work and rest indoors, making a welcome change from previous conditions, especially in the adverse climates of summer and winter.  Installation of Banya is scheduled to take place at five other locations.

JEN is committed to supporting the efforts of afflicted people to achieve self-reliance, and continues to recruit volunteers for its multifarious activities.

Installing "Hama-Yu" at Sasunohama village
Installing "Hama-Yu" at Sasunohama village
Distribution of the material for fish-net.
Distribution of the material for fish-net.
Communal meal following a disaster drill.
Communal meal following a disaster drill.

Links:

Oct 9, 2012

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: September 2012

 

October 2012 Tohoku Newsletter Banner

Following a hot and rainy summer, October brings a much awaited coolness to Japan.  Leaves have begun to change colors in the Tohoku region, bringing a renewed colorful landscape to the region.  Taiiku-no-hi (Sports and Health Day), promoting physical and mental health is in the second week of October, and many schools and communities hold their annual undou-kai (Field Day) during this season, creating opportunities for community cohesion and a healthy competition amongst members of the community.  We hope that you are able to take this opportunity to appreciate the change in season, and remain active in your daily life.

 

As the Tohoku Rebuilding program expands in scope and capacity, activity ramps up. We'll be capturing progress on a monthly basis via these reports, sent to everyone who has supported Japan's recovery since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. We hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.

2011

The featured projects show a glimpse into the work we have been involved in over the past few months!  Please feel follow more frequent updates on our Tohoku website


Updates /

Kitakami foundation pourKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center (in construction)

Construction began in September and we are right on track with our schedule.  With the foundation taking form, the scale of the project is becoming clearer, and one can now picture the completed project with children running about.

  • The Ground Breaking ceremony was held on July 17, where Shinto priests from the local Tsuriishi shrine came to hold the ceremony praying for safe construction of the market and youth center.  The owner, land owner, architect, and AFH staff attended this ceremony.
  • The first two coats of the concrete pour are done, with the final finish coat expected later in construction.
  • The color scheme has been finalized with dark blue for the roof, and white for the walls
  • The ridgepole-raising ceremony (jyotoushiki) is scheduled to be held on October 15th at noon.  Locals will be invited to this ceremony.

 

9

  • 717(AFH)
  • 1015

Banya building in constructionShizugawa Fishermen's Workplace "Banya" and Oyster Bar (in construction) 

We are in our final stage of construction, and we're only about 2 or 3 weeks away from completion to provide the proper workspace that the fishermen deserve.

  • roof work (waterproofing) has begun
  • some minor work (interior, exterior, foundation) coming soon

  

23

  • 10

Maeami hama modelMaeami-hama Community House (pre-construction)

We're partnering with KMDW (Kobayashi Maki Design Workshop) to construct a community house for the people of Maeami-hama.  With their experience in constructing a similar community building in Miyagi using tsunami washed plywood sheets as structural framing, the Maeami-hama Community House will have an innovative structure, consisting of slits in horizontal sheets of plywood fit into vertical ones.

  • We are in the process of obtaining a building permit, and are expecting to recieve it by November at the latest
  • project completion expected by January 2013

 

 

  • 11
  • 20131

Oshika HouseOshika House (completed)

Since this project - a food shop and community space, is in a restricted area where most buildings are temporary, this buidling was designed differently with a more permanent and comforting aesthetic.  The use of Japanese cedar for the walls, and the traditional gable roof construction bring a sense of comfort to visitors, with the low-pitched roof capable of withstanding strong sea winds for years to come.  While giving a sense of permanency, the building was designed and constructed in such a way that it can be easily relocated if government determines to ban permanent construction in this area in the future.

This winning entry from our Build Back Better Tohoku competition was completed in mid-July.

 

 

7

Akahama covered alleyCovered Alley (completed)

Many in the community of Akahama village, are currently in temporary housing, where placement is random and sense of community is dissipated.  With the help from NPO Midori-no-ie School, we proposed a covered alley between units, to connect the upper and lower units of a temporary housing complex.  The stairs and roof were designed to reflect traditional architecture, utilized local materials, and encouraged residents to lend their hand for construction to cultivate a sense of community.  

This project was completed in mid-July.  Residents can now finally safely navigate through the complex, inviting opportunities for impromptu social gatherings at covered landings.

 

NPO

7


News /


Events /

Seminar by MAKOTO

Business development seminars in Ishinomaki.  Details coming later this month on our website.  Stay tuned.

MAKOTO

 

Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign

During November 1-15 EDT, all donations to projects to our Tohoku Recovery activities through Global Giving will be matched 100%.  Double your impact by participating in this campaign!  Details to come soon.

 

 112131  11161359Global GivingGlobal Giving100

Tohoku Project Status Report /

In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" /  - CA 70%
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center /  - CA 20%
Maeami-hama Community House / - Pre-Construction

Completed
Akahama Covered Alley /  - Completed, Jul 2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative /  - Completed, Jul 2012
Paper Crane Sculpture /  - Completed, Jan 2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku /  - Completed, Dec 2011
Ohya Green Sports Park /  - Completed, Dec 2011
Hikado Marketplace /  - Completed, Jul 2011

CA Construction Administration /  ; CD Construction Documents /  ; DD Design Development /  ; SD Schematic Design /  ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases 

Oct 31, 2012

Support Mercy Corps' Efforts in Japan: Donate During the GlobalGiving's Japan Matching Campaign!

Young mothers work at newly opened Peace Jam
Young mothers work at newly opened Peace Jam

Good News! You can make a huge difference in the lives of countless people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Beginning at 12:01am EDT on November 1, 2012 (13:01 pm JST on November 2), GlobalGiving will be matching all donations made to Mercy Corps’ Response to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami project.

The matching campaign ends on November 15, 2012 at 11:59pm EDT (13:59pm JST on November 16) or until funds run out! Donate now! Matching funds will go quickly! Tell your friends! Please encourage them to donate too!

Here are some quick facts you should know about the campaign:

  • All donations will be matched 100% up to $1,000 per donor;
  • There is a maximum of $100,000 in matching funds. Once funds have been depleted, no more donations will be matched. But donations can still be made to help the people of Japan rebuild their lives; 
  • GlobalGiving will match through Nov 15, 2012 or until matching funds run out.

The continued support from donors like you allows the people of Japan to rebuild their lives with dignity and options. Mercy Corps has worked to provide life-saving basics to help people in desperate need, help children recover and heal from trauma, and continues to advance economic recovery by supporting fish markets, providing business loans, and supporting fishing associations.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at: fundraising@mercycorps.org. 

Domo arigato for your support.

Ofunato fish market reopens with Mercy Corps
Ofunato fish market reopens with Mercy Corps' help
Happy octopus catcher in Minamisanriku
Happy octopus catcher in Minamisanriku
Women Prepares Seaweed for Market
Women Prepares Seaweed for Market

Links:

Sep 10, 2012

Updates from Tohoku!

AAR Japan - Children in Fukushima
AAR Japan - Children in Fukushima

Summer has come and gone in Tohoku, and our partners made a lot of progress in the field.  Their activities included providing fishermen oars, running a summer camp for children in Fukushima, and rebuilding community houses.  We'd like to thank you once again for your generosity in donating to the Tsunami Relief Fund that is supporting our partners to do incredible work in Tohoku.

Here are some of the activities our partners accomplished over the summer:
Peace Winds America
Peace Winds is restoring livelihoods and accelerating economic recovery by supporting fishing cooperatives and their members.  In 2012, Peace Winds and cooperatives in Minami-Sanriku are working to support the seasonal needs of fishermen.  Most recently, Peace Winds and the cooperative leaders developed a plan to enable abalone and sea urchin fishermen to return to work. Peace Winds and the cooperatives are targeting fishing equipment support to 500 Minami-Sanriku abalone and sea urchin fishermen.  To support Peace Winds’ activities, GlobalGiving awarded them an additional $150,000 to provide fishing sheds to families in Minami-Sanriku.

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)
AAR Japan has been working in Tohoku area to support the disabled, rebuild communities, and provide medical services.  Recently, GlobalGiving funded AAR with a grant of $500,000 to support these activities in the nuclear-affected area of Fukushima as well. In Fukushima, AAR Japan runs activities such as organizing community events at temporary housing complexes for young and old to get together and overcome isolation, preparing contamination-free playgrounds for children, and reconstructing social welfare facilities for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly.  To learn more about their project in Fukushima, please click here

Safecast
Safecast is a global project working to empower people with data, primarily by mapping radiation levels and building a sensor network, enabling people to both contribute and freely use the data collected. After the 3/11 earthquake and resulting nuclear situation at Fukushima Daiichi it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available. Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan.  They installed 3 million data points so far, and planning on installing more.  Safecast received an additional grant of $100,000 to help them scale the production of radiation monitoring devices.


ETIC
ETIC is training and matching 200 young aspiring entrepreneurs (fellows) with 100 social business leaders that are heading reconstruction efforts to rebuild Tohoku through economic empowerment in three years (from Jun 2011 to Mar 2014). ETIC recently summarized fellows’ activities into a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q643Ls1Ti40&feature=youtu.be.  GlobalGiving is continuing to support these young entrepreneurs for the next two years with an additional $500,000 from the fund.

If you would like to read additional updates, please visit our Japan Relief and Recovery updates page. Thank you so much for your support and your continued interest!

Peace Winds - with a fisherman in Minami-Sanriku
Peace Winds - with a fisherman in Minami-Sanriku
ETIC - Fellows
ETIC - Fellows
Safecast - radiation monitoring device
Safecast - radiation monitoring device
Sep 7, 2012

Uniting Evacuee Communities in Fukushima

A Taiko drum team performs for evacuees.
A Taiko drum team performs for evacuees.

As part of our work to address the long-term needs of earthquake and tsunami survivors in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, we’re supporting seven community spaces in temporary housing sites in Minami-Soma City and two community spaces in shopping malls in Iwaki City. 

With the help of one of our local partners, Shapla Neer, one of the spaces we're supporting is called Buratto, which roughly translates into "swinging by".  The community space is open six days a week in a shopping mall that is easily accessible to those living in the neighborhood.  It offers a kids’ corner, a safe alternative for parents who feel uncomfortable letting their children play outside due to concerns about radiation exposure in Fukushima.  

These community spaces are bringing together host and evacuee communities to support each other through the rebuilding process.  We’re able to provide these safe spaces for survivors because of your support.  On behalf of all of us at International Medical Corps, thank you!

Wanage is a popular pastime among evacuees.
Wanage is a popular pastime among evacuees.
Handicrafts made by evacuees.
Handicrafts made by evacuees.

Links:

Sep 4, 2012

Fishermen Prepare for Abalone and Urchin Seasons

Shizugawa Fishermen with Abalone/Urchin Equipment
Shizugawa Fishermen with Abalone/Urchin Equipment

Few communities suffered greater losses in the March 2011 Japan tsunami than Minamisanriku.  Thousands of Minamisanriku residents lost their homes and their livelihoods.  Since May 2011, Peace Winds has been supporting Minamisanriku fishing cooperatives and members to revive the economy.  The catch of Minamisanriku fishermen is pivotal to the town’s economic recovery.

Minamisanriku is home to Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative and Udatsu Fishing Cooperative.  In 2012 Peace Winds and these cooperatives are working to support the seasonal needs of fishermen.  Most recently, Peace Winds and the cooperative leaders developed a plan to enable abalone and sea urchin fishermen to return to work.  Peace Winds and the cooperatives are targeting fishing equipment support to 500 Minamisanriku abalone and sea urchin fishermen.   From late summer through early autumn, the Shizugawa and Udatsu Cooperatives are taking orders for fishing equipment that Peace Winds agreed to provide. 

In late autumn, full-time and part-time Minamisanriku fishermen will harvest abalone for the first time since the March 2011 tsunami.  According to Udatsu Fishing Cooperative President Funabiki Chiba, this season’s abalone harvest is projected to increase the income of each abalone fisherman by $5,000 (400,000 Yen).  Abalone and sea urchin harvests provide income that complements the wakame (seaweed), trout salmon, octopus, and other fishing seasons.  By supporting the abalone and sea urchin fishermen, Peace Winds is creating jobs and restoring the livelihoods of Minamisanriku fishermen.

Minamisanriku fishermen use traditional methods to harvest abalone and sea urchin, which require specialized oars, shellfish locators, carbon or bamboo poles, hooks, and joints to connect the poles and hooks.  The traditional methods have been passed down for generations, having cultural and historical significance to the Minamisanriku fishermen and community.

Peace Winds is grateful for your support to Minamisanriku fishing cooperatives and fishermen.

PWA and Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative
PWA and Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative
Udatsu Cooperative President Funabiki Chiba
Udatsu Cooperative President Funabiki Chiba

Links:

Sep 4, 2012

We're building a Community Center ! "Ogatsu Housing Project"

Image of the Community Center
Image of the Community Center

Firstly, Hands On Tokyo would like to thank you all for your generous donations!

As the number of people for relief support is slowly beginning to decrease, HOT, in line with our mission as a volunteer portal to connect people to meaningful volunteer service opportunities, we conduct communication and interaction projects with the locals. We continue to actively engage volunteers in relief efforts at a pace of two three times every month.

 In our last report, we mentioned a little bit about the construction of a Community Center (the first building ever to be built in the town of Ogatsu, Miyagi prefecture after the March 11th disaster) . The materials (logs) for the house was transported to Ogatsu, where the Community Center will be built on March 28th. Although there was considerable delay from then till the start of construction due to labor and budget shortage (material fee and construction costs skyrocketed after the disaster), we are extremely pleased to announce that the groundbreaking of the "Ogatsu Community Center" took place just a few days ago on August 28th. The Community Center will act as a public facility where local residents can interact with one another and also with volunteers coming to this town from outside. Hands On Tokyo hopes to continue planning and providing meaningful projects revolving around this housing project, before, during and also after it's completion. We will be recruiting many vounteers to actually participate in building this log-house and we would like to continue asking for your generous support to help fund for this worthy cause!  The Community Center is planned to be completed around February, next year. I have attached image photographs of community center and a photograph of groundbreaking ceremony in Japanese traditional Shinto style for your reference . We hope you are as excited as we are about the start of this project and we appreciate your generous donations!

From our last report, we made 10 relief trips to Tohoku and held activies and events with nearly 200 volunteers, benefitting over 600 people. Please see respective detailed volunteer activities from the links below.

 

Image of the Community Center 2
Image of the Community Center 2
The famous HOT Cafe
The famous HOT Cafe
Groundbreaking Ceremony in Shinto Style
Groundbreaking Ceremony in Shinto Style

Links:

Aug 29, 2012

August in Tohoku - Half the Season

The end of July marks the half-way point for the Tohoku construction season, and we figured we could take stock of how our collaborative rebuilding projects are helping the tsunami-stricken region recover. The four featured cast a wide net of methods, materials and the unique conditions demanding their careful consideration.

Overview

(See project details & imgs further below)

Akahama Covered Alley Completed
In the beginning of May, the second phase of the construction finally started with the local community members and volunteers from Tokyo under the supervision of the master carpenter, Mr. Hoshino. In the middle of June, we mostly completed the construction. We still need to put some finishing touches after the typhoon season ends in July such as solar-powered lighting fixtures on each landing and add some landscaping around. We expect the project to be completed by the end of August.

Shizugawa Banya In Construction
The government paved the site in the end of May. It pushed back our schedule a bit, but it was good that they did before we started our construction. Building permit was finally approved on June 20, 2012. Then the pre-fab contractor started to coordinate the factory to build two units. The fabrication phase was extended because the contractor could not find a local sub-contractor to work on the interior finish, so they had to order the job at the factory instead. Due to the fact, we are expecting the units to come on site on August 20, 2012. As soon as they are delivered, we should be able to complete the project within a month to finally provide the proper workspace that these fishermen deserve. Our most urgent challenge ahead is to keep the sense of urgency and to push to better their delivery schedule.

Oshika House Completed
After three months of search for a contractor, we broke ground for the Oshika House on June 15, 2012. Even after we started the construction, challenges kept coming. Since the construction season in Tohoku is short and many reconstruction projects are going up, there is severe shortage of building materials and labor right now. The contractors had hard time tracking down necessary lumber, equipment and paint. With great help from volunteers, the team finished up the construction on July 17, and held an opening event on July 21.

Maeami-hama community house Pre-design
Professor Hiroto Kobayashi at Keio University and his students designed and constructed a similar community building in Utazu area of Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi Prefecture. They used plywood sheets that were washed out by the tsunami to create the structural framing. (See the photos on Page 10.) This innovative new building technique allowed them to construct the building inexpensively with much help from the community members and student volunteers during the construction.

Professor Kobayashi agreed to partner with us to design and build a community house for the people in Maeami-hama. We are very excited about this partnership.


Akahama Covered Alley sequence AKAHAMA COVERED ALLEY - COMPLETED

This is the second place winner of the first round of Build Back Better Tohoku. Akahama village lost 100 residents out of 900. Most of them moved into the temporary housing. Because of the random placement of residents and the callous layout of units, the sense of community is dissipated.

The community with the help from NPO Midorino-ie School proposed a set of covered staircases between units built on the terraced site in order to connect upper units and lower units. Currently they have to walk on a steep slope, and they are worried snow and ice on the slope in winter making extremely dangerous to walk on. The residents are encouraged to lend their hand for the construction to cultivate the sense of community. The stairs and roof are designed to reflect the traditional architecture as well as utilize local materials.

HIGHLIGHTS The first set of four covered stairways was built by the end of December 2012. The stairway was constructed with the traditional Japanese joinery.

The second phase construction began immediately after the phase one, but, due to the snowy winter weather in Tohoku, the outside construction work has been slowed significantly.

Meanwhile, the community leader, Mr. Okamoto, told us that the first set of the covered stairs has been very useful during the snowy winter. He also mentioned that everybody appreciates the high quality of work and its beauty in their dreary temporary housing complex.

Finally the residents can safely navigate through the complex, and perhaps have some impromptu social gatherings happening at covered landings. The final photos will be posted on the Akahama Alley page when they become available.


Framing on second flight; roof on third flight

IMPACT
The installation of the staircase with roof to link housing units on the terraced site. This will vastly improve the communication between families and provide an accessible route.

BENEFICIARIES
800 residents of Akahama Temporary Housing Complex in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture

CONSTRUCTION COST
Partially funded by Punkt - $51,000 construction grant (total)


Shizugawa Banya August 2012 sequence SHIZUGAWA BANYA - IN CONSTRUCTION

A group of 15 fishermen who lost everything for the Great East Japan Earthquake would like to rebuild their workplace and warehouse (called Banya in Japanese) as their new base of the town's fishing industry, which is the key industry of the area. These fishermen were used to operate individually, but now they would like to bring in each unique experience and idea to rebuild the collective aqua-farming business. They hope the return of fishing business would encourage the speedy reconstruction of the rest of the town.

IMPACT
The project provides a storage and workspace for local fishermen, and will help them build back their business and boost morale of the community.

BENEFICIARIES
• 15 Motohama fishermen and their families
• 6,800 residents of Shizugawa who would benefit from their aqua-farming business and products directly and indirectly

CONSTRUCTION COST
8,993,250 JPY construction grant (approx. 114,000 USD at exchange rate of July 16, 2012)


Oshika House August 2012 sequence OSHIKA HOUSE - COMPLETED

This is the first place winner of the first round of Build Back Better Tohoku RFP (Request for Proposal) program. Women’s Group of Oshika Peninsula Fishing Union in Ayukawa-hama in Ishinomaki has been making and selling woven bracelets with strings that fishermen use to fix fishing nets since a few months after the earthquake devastated their village. After the earthquake, they realized that they would need to diversify their economic structure in their village to build back their society, and become sustainable. Therefore they proposed to create a space for bracelet making and community gathering as well as serving prepared food to the community and tourists using local produce and seafood.

Oshika House build sequence
Oshika House build sequence

IMPACT Installation of a work space / café will allow the Women’s Group to empower them to become financially independent, and contribute to build the sustainable economy of the community.

BENEFICIARIES
• 7 Mermamaid members and their families
• Approximately 1,000 Ayukawahama residents CONSTRUCTION COST $51,000 construction grant (final)


Community house site sketch MAEAMI-HAMA COMMUNITY HOUSE - PRE-DESIGN

Meami-hama is located on the Oshika Peninsula – about ninety minutes east of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture. People have to drive a long narrow and windy road, which is still left scarred by the earthquake-led landslides. The government aid hardly reaches the remote villages like Maeami-hama because the repair of damages in larger towns’ infrastructure gets more priority.

The earthquake and tsunami wiped out almost the whole village of Maeami-hama. Only five houses out of forty survived. The Maeami-hama Reconstruction Project Team has established in May 2011 after the residents lamented the government's slow response to the reconstruction of their village. The team has the total of nine members, and leads the community of eighty people.

Most of residents works for the aquaculture industry, and used to live on the water. The government laid out the no-build zone along the coast, and built a temporary housing complex for the residents of Maeami-hama on a higher ground, away from the coast where they work. It takes them about five minutes by car to commute now. The peninsula is mountainous with very limited flat land to build. Hence their temporary housing complex does not have an enough community space to have family gatherings such as weddings, funerals and other community events. Architecture for Humanity will design and construct a community house with the Meami-hama Reconstruction Project Team. The site is located at the entrance to the village, and owned by the fishermen’s union whom generouslydonated the land for the community. It is on the higher ground, so hardly gets under water.

Construction method as implemented on the Tokyo Chapter's Veneer House in minami sanriku

IMPACT
The project will allow the community member to have a large gathering such as annual festivals, weddings, family reunions and so on.

BENEFICIARIES
100 community members of Maeami-hama

CONSTRUCTION COST
$100,000 construction grant (estimated) / $40,000 (secured)

END OF REPORT

Aug 28, 2012

New Devices Forthcoming

bGeigie Nano in Belgium
bGeigie Nano in Belgium

It's been a busy few months for the Safecast hardware teams. Part of the process for collecting more data requires getting more devices into people's hands so we're constantly working on that end of things too.

Robin has been heading up design of the improved bGeigie design (bGeigie 2) - the old ones included off the shelf parts and took a good day to build each one by hand. This new version is based on a custom board we're having manufactured which will cut both the time to build and the cost in half. We're excited about how this will allow us to get more of these out on the road so much quicker than previously.

Lionel has been working on the bGeigie Nano, which is the guts of a bGeigie in a much smaller housing which is great for travel and easy use by basically anyone. With any luck our entire team will soon be outfitted with these to carry with them around the world. We're also working with Medcom to produce a kit version of this so anyone can build their own as well.

Speaking of Medcom, they are moving full speed on production of the device we designed and kickstarted earlier this year, expecting delivery before the end of the year for sure. Firmware tests are in progress as we speak.

We've brought in almost a million data points since the last update which is thrilling. Our new map displaying this data can be found at map.safecast.org.

Robin and bGeigie 2 prototype
Robin and bGeigie 2 prototype
bGeigie 2 populated board and GPS
bGeigie 2 populated board and GPS
Safecast Medcom boards in progress
Safecast Medcom boards in progress
Aug 7, 2012

Delivering Flowers and Music to Persons with Disabilities and Their Families

Hanayu Flower Shop (May 13th, 2012 - Miyagi Pref.)
Hanayu Flower Shop (May 13th, 2012 - Miyagi Pref.)

The Colors and Aromas of a Rainbow of Flowers, to welcome Mother’s Day

As part of the ongoing recovery activities in the earthquake-hit Tohoku region, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) is carrying out a campaign called ‘Delivering Flowers and Magokoro (literally meaning “true heart”) to the Disaster-Affected Areas’. Supporters from all over Japan have welcomed the idea to deliver flowers to the desolate disaster areas from which the tsunami has taken everything. On May 13th, 2012, we visited the social welfare facility ‘Oguni no Sato’ in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.  ‘Oguni no Sato’ is a temporary housing complex for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their families who have been hit by the disaster. We delivered flower seedlings along with messages of support from all over Japan to the 50 families living there.

The flower pots delivered were gerbera and miniature roses. The supplier of the plants was ‘Flower Shop Hanayu’, a florist shop at a temporary shopping village in Onagawa Town. A medley of flowers greeted us upon arrival, together with the fresh scent of the miniature roses. Mr. Yukio SUZUKI and his wife Michiko put their hearts into wrapping each flowerpot.

Before the earthquake, Flower Shop Hanayu was located on the coast, but it was wiped out by the tsunami. The family ran for their lives towards higher ground, and later on found shelter at an evacuation center. In July 2011, they reopened their shop in a temporary shopping village supported by AAR Japan. “The store’s sales are half of what they were before the earthquake, but I’m just thankful I was able to reopen the store…. I feel close to tears” says Mr. SUZUKI whilst reading each campaign message of support collected from all over Japan.


A Mini-Concert By Kobe Musician

As soon as we arrived at ‘Oguni no Sato’, the residents of the facility guided us to the hall being used as the community meeting room. Many persons with intellectual, mental and/or physical disabilities, together with their families, live in this temporary housing complex. For the day of our visit, we had arranged a mini-concert to be held at the meeting room, with the flowers to be presented after the concert.

For the concert, singer-songwriter Junji SUGITA from Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, kindly came to perform. Mr. SUGITA had previously volunteered his services, holding concerts in disaster-hit areas in 1995, after the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Other than composing his own songs, Mr. SUGITA has also written a song for AAR Japan’s picture book ‘Not Mines, But Flowers’, which calls for the abolition of land mines. The song is titled ‘Even Without Wings’ (‘Tsubasa Ga Nakutemo’), and the proceeds from the CD are being generously donated to AAR Japan.

The song ‘Even Without Wings’, which talks about wanting to deliver flowers to people in a distant land, seemed perfect for our campaign of delivering flowers to those suffering in the Tohoku region. Thus, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Mari WASHIDA (a director of AAR Japan), we were able to invite Mr. SUGITA and have him sing for us as we delivered flowers to the disaster area.


“Even without Wings, I have come to meet you”

At the community meeting room of ‘Oguni no Sato’, Mr. SUGITA sang and played the guitar, starting with Louis ARMSTRONG’s ‘What a Wonderful World’, followed by timeless Japanese classics such as ‘The Misty Moon of Spring’ (‘Oborozukiyo’) and ‘My Country Home’ (‘Furusato’), along with his original songs. Lastly, the musical score for ‘Even Without Wings’ was passed around the audience, and everyone enjoyed singing the song together.

It was the first time these residents enjoyed a live musical performance in their temporary accommodation. When Mr. SUGITA started to sing, they quickly picked up the rhythm with their bodies and merrily hummed along from start to finish. There is a simple melody to ‘Even Without Wings’, and so the lyrics “Even without wings, I have come to meet you, to bring you a flower” were joyously sung by everyone – to the point where Mr. SUGITA had to play an encore, after the audience expressed their excitement by saying ‘that was great’ and ‘we want to hear more!’ at the end of the song. Mr. SUGITA also seemed to enjoy himself, saying “Despite not having my audio equipment, you have listened intently to just my voice and guitar – I can feel your emotions. When I saw your smiling faces singing along to the songs you first heard here today, I realized how glad I am to have come here”.


Conveying Open-Hearted Support through Flowers, Messages and Music

After the mini-concert, we delivered the flowers, along with messages of support received from all over the country. One of the residents, Ms. Rumiko ABE, received a yellow gerbera along with the message ‘Stay smiling, be well’, sent from a woman in Shiga Prefecture in the western part of Japan. In reply, Ms. ABE said “Thank you for sending this message all the way from Shiga. I will carry on with a smile”. Ms. ABE had to move several times between different evacuation centers with her daughter, who is bedridden with severe disabilities. At one point, they lived in a car for one month. In July 2011, she finally managed to move into the “Oguni no Sato” temporary housing complex.

Ms. Toyoko TSUKADA was carried away by the tsunami, but managed to save herself by climbing onto the roof of a house. She now lives together with her son, who has a disability. “When I was hit by the tsunami, I thought it was over, but then my son’s image flashed into my mind, and I realized, I had to stay alive. I have survived, so I should cherish this life.” She received a message from a man in Aichi Prefecture saying “Don’t let yourself down, keep your head high. There is no need for anything more than this”. To which she replied, “You have given me courage. Thank you very much!”

Ms. Yuko ABE receives a pot of mini roses with a message from a woman in Gumma Prefecture saying “I hope the flowers will give you energy and cheer you up”. To which she replied “I love flowers, so I’m really happy. My daughter and I will make them grow. One can separate the roots of roses, so I want to try and multiply them”. At the time of the tsunami, Ms. ABE ran desperately to escape; had she waited only a few minutes longer, it would have been too late. For several days she was unable to contact her daughter Misaki, a child with severe intellectual disabilities. 

At the meeting room, some of the residents spent time talking and listening to each other’s dreadful experiences in the aftermath of the earthquake, offering encouragement to one another. Maybe it is because they all have children with disabilities, that they can share each other’s hardships. Through the flowers, the messages and the music, AAR Japan conveyed the open-hearted support from people all across Japan to the residents of “Oguni no Sato”.

                                                     ** ** **

YOUR CONTINUOUS SUPPORT HELPS RECOVERY

                     MAKE A RECURRING DONATION NOW !

Messages of encouragement (May 2012, Miyagi Pref.)
Messages of encouragement (May 2012, Miyagi Pref.)
Mini-concert for tsunami survivors (Miyagi Pref.)
Mini-concert for tsunami survivors (Miyagi Pref.)
Ms. Rumiko ABE (right) with Mr. Junji SUGITA
Ms. Rumiko ABE (right) with Mr. Junji SUGITA
Ms. Toyoko TSUKADA (right) with AAR Japan Staff
Ms. Toyoko TSUKADA (right) with AAR Japan Staff
Ms. Yuko ABE (left) with her daughter Misaki
Ms. Yuko ABE (left) with her daughter Misaki
Aug 7, 2012

Support Mercy Corps: Vote Now for Our Inspiring Photos!

From Poverty, to Goats, to Profits
From Poverty, to Goats, to Profits

We want to thank you again for supporting our efforts in Japan, and would like to take this opportunity to share with you what else Mercy Corps is doing on GlobalGiving...

We submitted three breathtaking photos from the field to GlobalGiving's annual photo contest, and two were chosen as finalists! Help us win $1,000 for our work simply by casting your vote by August 15th!

Just by clicking a button, you can help make a difference in the lives of others. It’s incredible how an action so small can have such a big impact.

Voting is easy - vote once for both of these inspiring photos by entering your email address. Then, check your inbox for the confirmation email from GlobalGiving. Only upon confirmation will your vote be counted.

The photo with the most votes by noon EDT on August 15th wins, so vote now!

Don’t forget to share that you’ve voted to help Mercy Corps on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Help us spread the word! 

Without people like you we would not have these heartwarming stories to share. Thank you so much for your continued support. 

 *****************************************************************

The photo above shows Santou Hamidou rejoicing in Niger. She received two goats from Mercy Corps in December 2011, and now she can breed them. She’s been feeding her family with milk from the goats, and by selling the kids, she can buy more food for her six children. The hunger crisis across the region is worsening, but she has the means to lead her family through this hardship. Santou’s smile makes it clear: a little help can go a long way. 

Vote for the photo of Santou Hamidou with her new goat!


Afghanistan is one of the world's toughest places to be a woman. Conflict and cultural repression have denied them education, careers, safety and equal rights. But Mercy Corps’ INVEST vocational training center in the Helmand province has enrolled more than 900 women who are learning English, computers, sewing, embroidery and calligraphy. The photo below shows one of these resilient women. 

Vote for the photo of the woman with the sewing machine! 

Education Against All Odds
Education Against All Odds

Links:

Aug 1, 2012

New Oars: Fishermen resume harvesting profitable species

New Oars Bring New Hope
New Oars Bring New Hope

Along the tsunami-ravaged coast of Minamisanriku, abalone and sea urchins are an important source of income for local fishermen. Unlike other sea crops, these bottom-dwelling creatures are neither cultivated nor caught with nets, but caught by hand and with spears. In order to harvest these high-value species, fishermen need to be able to approach without a motor, using oars

However, all the oars in Minamisanriku were lost or destroyed in the devastating tsunami in 2011. Replacing this resource allows fishermen to restart earning from the bottom-dwelling species, and improve their livelihoods.

Mercy Corps was asked by our partner agency, Peace Winds Japan, to provide funds to create 50 oars. In the end, the combined efforts of both Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee provided 200 paddles to fishermen from the Shizukawa Fishing Cooperative. Also benefiting from this program were two local carpenters who gained additional income by finishing the woodwork and adding protective coating on the oars.

Thanks to ongoing support from donors like you, these resilient fishermen will be able to harvest abalone and sea urchins starting this November and continue on in the future!

Links:

Jul 31, 2012

Ongoing Recovery Activities: There's still So Much to Do!

Field Trip for Children from Fukushima (July 2012)
Field Trip for Children from Fukushima (July 2012)

Dear Supporter,

You may have noticed that we have recently updated the title and description of the project you have been supporting. As you can imagine, the needs of the disaster survivors keep on changing, and so do our activities. This is why we have decided to do a little overhaul. In the project you are supporting, we are now giving priority to the repair of senior care homes and facilities for persons with disabilities (PWDs), as well as to the re-integration of PWDs who have lost their workplaces due to the disaster.

On the other hand, our support efforts for the tens of thousands of evacuees who now live in temporary housing facilities are ongoing. And we have just started several new programs in Fukushima Prefecture, too.

If you are interested, please have a look at our two other recovery projects for the earthquake and tsunami disaster survivors in Japan.

Two More AAR Japan Projects on GlobalGiving

"Building Healthy Communities for Recovery"
http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/building-healthy-communities-1/

"Support Evacuees of Fukushima"
http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-evacuees-of-fukushima/


Help Survivors to Make a New Start

There is still a lot of work to do in the disaster-hit areas of Japan! If you would like to help us provide long-term assistance to the earthquake and tsunami survivors, please consider making a monthly donation to one of the above projects. Every donation (be it one-time or recurring) is truly appreciated.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Your AAR Japan Project Team

Jul 27, 2012

Tent is Active as Multi-purpose Community Center

Sign boards of tent shops and mountain school
Sign boards of tent shops and mountain school

During winter due to extremely cold weather, the tent for shops in Isatomae, Minami-sanrikucho, was rather quiet. Only a barbershop was in operation with several transparent and thick plastic curtains to prevent oil-heated warm air leaking out of the enclosed section. In this cold weather, despite free rent in the tent, many shops moved out to government-constructed temporary-shops with much nicer, warmer-in-winter, and cooler-in-summer environments, but naturally with a highly expensive monthly charge.

Now in summer time, not only the barbershop is there in operation as usual, but also a mountain school (Tengu no Yama Gakko) is offering mountain survival lessons to children. They rented a piece of land close to the tent to teach children not only how to survive in the nature, but also how to cultivate vegetables and construct temporary shelters. Everyday many children gather in the tent to join lessons as one of children’s summer vacation activities.

The school also brought an electric sign board to attract people to come to the tent shops over the weekend, when two additional shops are operating. The liquor shop which was previously operating frequently on weekdays is now operating only over the weekend, since the owner got a bus driver job to prevent him from opening the shop on weekdays. He, however, developed private-brank sake, named “Utatsu,” the old name of the location, attracting some customers. A food shop is also open over the weekend to attract customers to the tent. So, basically four shops are in operation in the tent.

The tent is also becoming a convenient place for diverse town events. The mountain school often holds a parents-children party, and the tent is especially helpful when it rains outside. The mountain school also created a children’s mikoshi for a summer festival, and the tent became the center of mikoshi construction as well as a practice
ground for children parading around Isatomae with the mikoshi. The government-constructed temporary-shops also hold events frequently, but when it rains this tent becomes the place of events.

Isatomae received a large number of paper-folded cranes (orizuru) after the Tsunami Disaster, and now the town government is hanging them on a side of a steep hill with a sign written, “To people in the world, thank you very much.” But, to my great surprise, preparations for this displayed orizuru by coating with plastic and piercing them through with a thread have been conducted at a corner of the tent. They still have far more orizuru to process. This is a reason why I say that the tent is becoming a multipurpose community center.

Another surprising finding is that now a Isatomae reconstruction plan is in a process of being formulated. The Central Government is showing a blue print to Isatomae people, while it is trying to incorporate local opinions in the plan. What is clear now is that the government is going to elevate the present government-constructed-shop area by piling up sand from the mountain. When this is to be implemented, these shops will be dismantled and have to be moved back to the tent until every construction (elevated land, dike, road, and shops) is completed, which will take a couple of years. Meanwhile, the tent will become the center of commercial activities in the village. Besides, one of two newly-planned residential areas to be constructed for people in the temporary housing to move in will be right next to the tent. In a sense, this tent may transform into a frequently-used community center even after the government construction plan is completed.

Although the use of the tent has been experiencing ups and downs, I think that the tent offered diverse and valuable supports to different groups of people with different purposes in different periods. I am really grateful for your donations, and without your help Isatomae people might have suffered further without a proper substituting location in diverse stages of transformation.

Thank you very much.

In front of mountain school shop
In front of mountain school shop
Barbar Shop
Barbar Shop
Mikoshi Made by the Mountain School
Mikoshi Made by the Mountain School
"Utatsu" sake produced by tent liquor shop
"Utatsu" sake produced by tent liquor shop
"Utatsu" sake produced by the tent liquor shop
"Utatsu" sake produced by the tent liquor shop
Electric sign board for tent shops
Electric sign board for tent shops
Display of Paper-folded Crane (orizuru)
Display of Paper-folded Crane (orizuru)
Jul 26, 2012

Rebuilding in Tohoku - "We Are One"

"Ishi" in Japanese means "stone," and you don't have to go too far to see how closely Ishinomaki is tied to the stone upon which the city was founded 80 years ago. The tsunami has made this connection even more apparent. The streets have in recent decades been paved over with asphalt for the benefit of a comfortable commute. The powerful waters of last year's tsunami has torn some of this asphalt away - bringing daylight once more to the original stone pavers.

It's details like these that bring a new layer of complexity and understanding to the residents of Ishinomaki. The economic hardships the city has suffered since the 80's and the destruction wrought by the 3/11 tsunami have tested the resolve of this industrial city's inhabitants -- whose response to such tests was to come together and help rebuild. Naomi Sato, an accountant in the community of Kitakami, has found herself as a leading player in her city's 'building back better.' The tsunami changed the direction of her life, as it has in the case of so many others, and Ms. Sato now counts herself among a growing field of dynamic players rebuilding the services and stability a town needs to make a rock-solid comeback.

Damage in Ishinomaki

Damaged storefronts in Ishinomaki, May 2012

Temporary housing (May 2012)

Temporary Housing, May 2012

Before the earthquake, Naomi kept the books at a local general contractor’s office. In 2009, she joined the Kitakami Redevelopment Committee for the city of Ishinomaki. Naomi lost her husband to the earthquake, and now is the sole caretaker of their three children. She got depressed following the disaster, but quickly realized she had to move forward with her family.

Determined to help her family and community rebuild after the earthquake, Naomi organized a group of local residents. The "We Are One" Market planning committee was founded by Naomi and four other mothers living in one of Ishinomaki's new temporary housing complexes. The committee's goal: to found a place for the residents of the housing complex to buy fresh food and for their children to meet after school. The vision, called Kitakimi “We Are One”, is to build a community center and market where mothers can work and watch neighborhood kids after school at the same time.

"We Are One" organizers and Architecture for Humanity staff meet with Kitakami officials to discuss the project.

Members of the "We Are One" team, including Naomi.

The site of the future market. Currently, Naomi and "We Are One" are selling fruits and vegetables from a small temporary market located there.

Inside the temporary market

Inside the temporary market. In May, Naomi reported that the temporary market was doing well - there are many locals and contractors who are working on reconstruction projects that stop by every day, she says.

After Disaster, “We Are One”

Life in the isolated towns and villages of Tohoku has changed drastically since 3/11. Kitakami once had three elementary schools, but two of them were severely damaged by the tsunami and all students have been forced to attend the single surviving school. As a result, 250 students have been sharing a school designed for about 100 occupants. Not only were classrooms lost: Kitakami's public library, computer lab, and other after school meeting spots were destroyed as well. In the year following the earthquake, finding space for students to meet and study has been a priority for Kitakami residents.

The town also lost their closest market, meaning that residents living in the temporary housing complex have to drive about 15 miles to purchase fresh food. Folks without cars or who are too old to drive themselves have to rely on the generosity of their neighbors to buy fresh food, and the organizing committee wants to ensure that these community members can regain their independence and access to healthy eats.

Out of the scarcity of the life in Kitakami, community members have collaborated to identify how they can make the most out of a small piece of land they have near the temporary housing complex by building a joint community center and marketplace.

Architect Fumihiko Sasaki (see his firm's work) was introduced to the "We Are One" committee last fall. Given the community's limited financial resources (but unlimited resolve), Mr. Sasaki has proposed an innovative design. The building has been strategically pieced together from several prefabricated structures (which are substantially cheaper to 'build') and adorned with an inviting, lively facade. The financial sustainability of the market has been kept in mind, too: in addition to providing fresh food for nearby residents, "We Are One" organizers hope to entice travellers using the nearby highway to stop and shop the market.

Final elevation drawings of the market

A plan view of the proposal for a joint community market and youth center

Mr. Fumihiko Sasaki presents the designs to Naomi

Mr. Fumihiko Sasaki presents the designs to Naomi

Mr. Sasaki presents a model of the project to town officials

Mr. Sasaki presents a model of the project to town officials

"We Are One" Market & Youth Center model

"We Are One" Market & Youth Center model

Model interior

Model interior

June 17, 2012, traditional Shinto groundbreaking ceremony

June 17, 2012, Shinto groundbreaking ceremony

Ms. Sato participates in groundbreaking Mr. sasaki participates in groundbreaking

Ms. Sato and Mr. Sasaki participate in the groundbreaking

On July 17, 2012, the "We Are One" Market permanent building broke ground. Design Fellow Akinobu Yoshikawa follows up on last week's groundbreaking ceremony:

"[The ceremony] was held on a warm but cloudy (partly raining) morning on July 17th, 2012...with children going to school and commuting workers passing by with amused eyes.... An old lady taking a walk from the nearby temporary housing complex, came to me asking what is going to get built. After explaining the project to her, she said it will nice to see something going up, and looks forward to the completion.

"This Shinto ceremony is a custom here in Japan and held regardless of the project type or scale. The first ceremony is this ground breaking ceremony. Fruits, vegetables, fish, and sake is presented to the gods (the items varies a little per location). The ground breaking ceremony is held in Japan to pray for the safekeeping of the workers and others involved while in construction. Next ceremony will be the framework completion ceremony when all the timber framing is completed. And at the end another one, the building completion ceremony will be held."

Construction will begin soon following Japan's Bon Festival. The goal is to wrap up the building process before the local ‘building season’ ends in October or November. (Tohoku's cold winters make it very difficult to keep building later in the year.) The completed market and youth center will serve 40 families – including over 350 students – in the nearby temporary housing, plus travelers using the adjacent highway. Stay tuned - we'll be providing updates as the "We Are One" market and youth center moves closer to completion!

About Paper Cranes for Japan

This 4-minute film tells the story of Paper Cranes for Japan—including the unveiling of a massive sculpture in Sendai Train Station using 100,000 of your paper cranes—and how it inspired a global movement that mobilized thousands of young people in 38 countries and all fifty states to support their Japanese peers following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. All told, Paper Cranes for Japan participants folded and shipped over 2 million paper cranes as a symbol of hope and healing for Japanese youth, raising $500,000 for Architecture for Humanity's Tohoku Rebuilding Program and projects like this!

Paper Cranes for Japan has been nominated for a CLASSY Award! If you like how this unique Awareness Campaign has supported Architecture for Humanity's work in Japan, Vote for PC4J Before JULY 26, 2012.

Jul 24, 2012

AMDA's High School Scholarship Program Updates!

As part of recovery project of Tohoku Earthquake, AMDA is distributing AMDA International Scholarship to the surviving students in the affected area since 2011. Seven eligible schools were Iwate Prefectural Kamaishi High School, Iwate Prefectural Kamaishi Commercial & Technical High School, Iwate Prefectural Otsuchi High School, Miyagi Prefectural Shizukawa High School, Sendai Medical Health Institute, Iwate Prefectural Ofunato High School, Tohoku North Korean School. Eighty Six selected students recommended by the principals of each school received 15,000 yen per month (annual amount of 180,000 yen). Twenty four students among them graduated in the spring of 2011, and each graduate is taking a new step.

Please read the entire report by clicking on the attached Activity Report IV.


Attachments:
Jul 15, 2012

Koyo Maritime High School Reopens Media Room

PWA and Koyo Administrators in the Koyo Media Room
PWA and Koyo Administrators in the Koyo Media Room

“There was no budget for the Media Room.  Without Peace Winds support, our students would have no access to special classes with audio/visual capability.”  Principal Seto of Koyo Maritime High School knew that the school’s empty Media Room detracted from his students learning experience.  The former Media Room, destroyed along with the rest of Koyo Maritime High School in the March 2011 tsunami, was a favorite among students, a place to consume and create using various technologies.  With Peace Winds support, the delighted Principal Seto was able to reopen the Koyo Media Room.

In late April 2012 Peace Winds equipped the Koyo Media Room with a screen, projector, laptop, speakers, microphones and monitor.  For Peace Winds the Media Room represented an opportunity to not only help Koyo students, but also to support the future of the fishing industry in the area.  The room is actively used now by Koyo students, faculty, the PTA and even nearby community groups who need a meeting space.

Koyo Maritime High School in Kesennuma trains young men and women to work in the fishing industry.  The school has operated for over 100 years, but temporarily closed after the March 2011 tsunami.  Located near the sea, Koyo Maritime High School was the only Kesennuma high school destroyed in March 2011.  Luckily, all Koyo students and staff took refuge on the school’s roof during the tsunami, and no lives were lost.  In November 2011, Koyo reopened in a temporary building provided by the Japan government.

Koyo Maritime High School covers grades 10 to 12 and has an average enrollment of 350 students.  The students are split into three different departments: the Marine Information Department, which teaches sailing, navigation, and other maritime skills; the Industry Department, which focuses on business and food processing skills; and the Machine Technology Department, which teaches machinery and engines.

Former site of Koyo Maritime High School
Former site of Koyo Maritime High School

Links:

Jul 13, 2012

Visits to 3 children's homes in Tohoku

Little but rubble in Kesennuma (1)
Little but rubble in Kesennuma (1)

On May 8 and 9, Living Dreams visited La Salle Home (Sendai, Miyagi), Asahigaoka Gakuen (Kesennuma, Miyagi) and Ichinoseki Fujinosono (Ichinoseki, Iwate).  Since Mari Kuraishi of GlobalGiving has already written a report on our visit to La Salle Home in April, I will share the circumstances of the other two homes.

The visit to Asahigaoka Gakuen (not the home itself) was quite shocking, to be honest. It is located up on the hill which oversees the main part of Kesennuma, which is a fishers’ town right on the Pacific. On our way to Asahigaoka Gakuen from the bus stop, we asked the taxi driver to take us to the harbor area where the tsunami hit.  It did not take us much time to be exposed to the brutal scene which we had seen on the news almost every day.

The images from the media were right.  Almost all the buildings were gone, and we could only see several buildings that were barely standing, showing the painful scars from the tsunami.  Even a huge fishing boat (about 20 meters long) was on the ground, showing rusts on its body, telling us how much time has passed since that day.  It was difficult for us to hold our tears seeing such scenes.  One small hope that we found there was a tiny flower garden, which was probably made by the owner of the house which was totally swept away by the tsunami.

To our great relief, no child of Asahigaoka Gakuen was hurt by the earthquake or tsunami, for they were already up on the hill where the home is located, when the tsunami occurred.  But these children live their everyday lives
looking at this disastrous and empty scene that the tsunami has left behind.  There is no question that these
children need some form of psychological care for years to come.

Another home we visited, Ichinoseki Fujinosono, was damaged by the earthquake, to the level that they had to start rebuilding the facility right away.  Their biggest concern is whether they can collect enough donations to cover the construction cost, which is JPY 800 million in total.  Beside this gigantic goal, they also face more immediate challenges; whether they can get by, while their building is under construction, in prefabricated houses, in which living condition is not of best quality both in summer and winter.  And in order to improve the quality of their life for the time being, we are planning to provide them with such needs like mosquito screens for their windows, bamboo blind (“yoshizu” in Japanese), cost for fuel in winter, etc.

While they live under such stressful environment, Living Dreams are planning to take out the children of Asahigaoka
Gakuen and Ichinoseki Fujinosono to our English Adventure Summer Camp which will be held in Hanayama, Miyagi, thanks to donation from organizations like GlobalGiving.  At the same time, we are proceeding our preparation for the Christmas Wish program this year, under which each child will receive the exact present that he/she wishes, again thanks to donation from organization like GlobalGiving.

Fishing boat on a Kesennuma street (2)
Fishing boat on a Kesennuma street (2)
Ichinoseki Fujinosono
Ichinoseki Fujinosono
Jul 12, 2012

Voices and photos from Tohoku - new video

We have posted new video that shows what we do and why we do it with some new photos and videos featuring Fellows.

You can see the video at the cover page of this project, or the below URL.
http://youtu.be/Q643Ls1Ti40

Towards the sustainable recovery led by local people, we will continue to send Fellows to support local leaders' projects. Thank you for your continuous support.

Jul 10, 2012

Tsunami Relief for Ishinomaki Locality

School Sports Day organized by JEN
School Sports Day organized by JEN

Project

Relief & Re-establishment activities for those affected by the Tohoku Pacific Area Earthquake

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages

Activities during May & June 2012

[Community Space]

Community Reconstruction and assistance has been conducted mainly through the establishing of “Community Spaces”, which offer psychological support and a wide variety of social activities.  Recent examples of the latter have taken forms such as yoga classes, hand massages, and make-up lessons in locations such as HANA House, a community café in the Kitsuma-Minami district.  HANA House is one of the three community cafes that were run by local inhabitants by the end of 2011.  JEN strongly believes that communities can be rebuilt through the cooperation and participation of supporters and locals in such centers of interaction, by providing platforms for social events, as well as psycho-emotional care.

Other noteworthy events organized by JEN for the purposes of community reconstruction during the months of May and June have included a sports meeting for primary school and kindergarten children, and a kimono sewing event in preparation for the approaching summer festival season, for which such costumes are traditionally worn.  JEN will continue to initiate community reconstruction by organizing interactive events in centers of psycho-social assistance.

[Mudbusters are turning into…]

JEN has been continuing to recruit volunteers from the public, and its volunteer dispatch program has succeeded in coordinating over 4000 participants in cleaning operations of sludge and debris.  These activities have begun to shift in emphasis from ‘emergency relief’ work involving manual labor such as the transporting of supplies to temporary housing from the JEN volunteer dispatch program, to ‘reconstruction assistance’ which focuses on the revitalization of the fishery industry and supporting the daily lives of people living in temporary housing.  The latter is typified by projects such as the training program conducted by the 184 new recruits of the Ricoh Company, Ltd. in June. This crew was divided into three groups and worked on creating sandbags, scraping holdfasts off kelps, and sorting kelps and seaweed.  These sandbags can be utilized effectively in almost all aquaculture facilities, and thus are of great value to local fishery, which JEN recognised as the economic backbone of the community.  The goal on this particular occasion was to produce 8000 sandbags, but the new recruits managed to exceed this goal substantially by 1,622 bags.

[Income Generation]

Restoration of livelihood is a crucial necessity in Ishinomaki city and its surrounding villages.  JEN have been engaged in a variety of fishery support activities in Ishinomaki city since last year, in order to facilitate the recovery of its primary means of economy.  Currently, there is a critical lack of equipment crucial to those engaging in coastal fishing activities in fisheries.  Since February, JEN have been able to supply skytanks, a forklift truck, palettes, a kelp cropping machine and plastic catches containers to ten fisheries afflicted by the tsunami.

Another job creation project JEN has initiated in attempting to revive the fishery industry has been its supplying of fishing nets specifically for mantis fishing, which suffered greatly due to almost all of the said nets having been swept away by the tsunami.  Such nets have been in short supply and hence the fishermen have had serious difficulties regenerating one of their main means of livelihood.  JEN has established a system in which locals are taught how to manufacture the nets, which are in turn bought by JEN and provided to the fishermen through the Fisheries Cooperative Association.  JEN believes establishing such productive cycles is one of the most sustainable approaches in contributing towards long-term solutions of the local industry, in that it benefits not just the fishermen but also those who produce the nets.  Furthermore, this technology and skill can in turn be passed down through generations thereby promoting future commerce as well as intergenerational exchange.

The Fishermen with their new skytanks
The Fishermen with their new skytanks
Sewing Kimonos at a Community Cafe
Sewing Kimonos at a Community Cafe
Jul 5, 2012

Monthly Report vol.12

One year in the disaster area

At 14:46 local time on March 11, 2011, a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred on the pacific coast along from Sanriku to Ibaraki coast. Tsunami caused by the earthquake and aftershocks killed a lot of people. Still, more than 3,000 people were reported missing. The life of survivors has drastically changed. One year has passed since the great East Japan Earthquake. What do people in the disaster area think? How do they feel?

-"I still hate the Tsunami. It washed away everything. At first I didn't know what to do. I cried over what I lost every day. However, as time went by, I came to think positively. Only one year. From now on, I will step forward year by year."

-"It is no use crying over spilt milk. We, survivors should just go forward."

-"It is the first anniversary commemorating a lot of people who were killed in the disaster. I can't have clear image of reconstruction. One year cannot be a milestone for reconstruction."

-"After the disaster I have just continued to work hard. For the first anniversary, I want to meet my friends to think back and to talk about one another. Then I will go forward together with my friends. There are a lot of things I can't do by my self."

-"Every time I talked about my experience to people from outside, I recalled painfull memories and felt sad."

-"It was a very long year for me. With the help from a lot of volunteers across Japan and support organizations, we have got through difficulties so far. After people from outside go back to their home, we have to work by ourselves in order not to make our community go into decline."

Memories of that day, experiences during one year after the disaster, anxiety about the future. Different people have different emotions. From now on individual power and ties among people are becoming important than ever.

 

If you need further imformation, please find attachment and our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/civicforce)


Attachments:
Jul 5, 2012

Monthly Report vol.11

11 months since the earthquake, industrial recovery is the key

11months have passed since the Tohoku Earthquake occurred on March 11, 2011. In coastal regions devastated by the resulting tsunami, the first stage of rubble removal and building cleanup has been completed. At first glance, it looks as if calm has returned to these areas. The problems that each person here is bearing such as shock and worry about the future will requre many long months and years to recover from.

 Many people are living each day burdened by their individual worries. These included people remembering family, friends, and loved ones lost right before their eyes in the tsunami, people worried about their employment for whom the prospects of their industry recovering look poor, people as yet unable to return to their homes out of fear, and people living in fear of radiation.

 On the other hand, there are people striving to overcome these anxieties and somehow recover. In addition to conducting activities to prevent isolation and to provide mental care for disaster victims, Civic Force continues to provide support in various areas to support the revival of towns even more vital than they were before the earthquake by supporting urban development and industrial restoration, sources of vitality for people.

 In our 11th monthly report, we report on the start of the second session of the employee volunteer dispatch program and the resolution and start of the second project for the General Incorporated Foundation Tohoku Kyoeki Toshi Kikin. In addition, we will also explain the meaning of monitoring NPO partner projects.

 

If you need further information, please find attachment or our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/civicforce)


Attachments:
Jul 5, 2012

Monthly Report vol.10

New Year's greeting

We respectfully offer our New Year's greetings. Three years ago in January of 2009, Civic Force was established with the following mission: "In order to meet all of the needs of the victims of the next large scale disaster to occur in Japan, We will work with business, governments, and local people to provide high quality support with unseen speed." The previous year of 2011 has been particulary challenging and has truly seen us put our mission into practice.

We entered the disaster area by helicopter the day after the Tohoku Earthquake and began transporting relief supplies such as food and daily necessities starting the week after, delivering 540 different items for a total of 380 tons to evacuation shelters and other locations.

With the strength of businesses, governments, NPOs, and citizens, we have continued to operate projects such as handmade baths and a large car ferry.

Although there is still a mountain of serious issues at the areas struck by the disaster, we offer our heartfelt thanks with everyone that we've been able to greet the New Year and each and every one of our staff will continue to focus their energies and conduct activities in tohoku. Civic Force is also preparing for the next large scale disaster. We ask for everyone`s continued support, guidance, and encouragement in the New Year.

 

If you need further information, please find attachment or our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/civicforce)


Attachments:
Jun 20, 2012

Exciting Update!

Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634
Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634

We would like to thank you for your continued support; grants are still going strong! Because of donors like you we are excited to announce the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund’s recent allocation of $425,000 to 3 projects working to reconstruct and strengthen communities affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  

Here are some project highlights:

Fukushima Kids Executive Committee

Due to the dangers caused by the damaging of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant children in the area are unable to play outside. The Fukushima Kids Executive Committee is working towards restoring playtime by hosting summer camps in Hokkaido for children in the Fukushima area. Getting kids outside during their vacation time and restoring play lightens the children’s spirits in a time of uncertainty. Having opened in 2011, Fukushima Kids’ Summer Camp is excited to open again for the summer of 2012 and is hoping to reach 1,000 kids. Thanks to your generous support Fukushima Kids Executive Committee is receiving $200,000 in funding!

IsraAid

After the events of March 2011 persons living in danger areas were forced to move to temporary housing communities (kasetsu-jutaku). IsraAid continues to work with people of all ages living in temporary housing areas and is launching an exciting new youth leadership project, Rebuilding Lives-Investing in the Future, in Tohoku, Japan. The project aims to empower participants and build leadership, social innovation and social responsibility through a series of trainings, seminars and workshops, which focus on areas such as, leadership training, social program structuring and mentoring. We are excited to announce that IsraAid is receiving $100,000 in funding!

Telecom for Basic Human Needs 

During times of disaster radio often becomes an integral communication tool. Radio stations provide vital information to communities and lessen feelings of isolation. Though reconstruction of Japan’s devastated areas is under way the support and information radio provides is still valued in many communities. Having seen the effectiveness of radio stations and the important role they play in the recovery and rebuilding process of communities, Telecom for Basic Human Needs is working to turn disaster stations into permanent community-based radio stations. Thanks to your support Telecom for Basic Human Needs is receiving $125,000 in funding!

 

If you would like to read additional updates, please visit our Japan Relief and Recovery updates page. Thank you so much for your support and your continued interest!

Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634
Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Jun 13, 2012

Rebuilding in Tohoku - May 2012

As of May 2012, five projects are currently underway in Tohoku, managed by Architecture for Humanity design fellows.  Each project addresses an "urban acupuncture" approach to reconstruction: precise public or community interventions that create a ripple effect to entire towns and regions. Our Japan team is working directly with communities to first assess their needs and then oversee development of buildings and structures seen as vital for communities with few other accessible design resources.

AKAHAMA COVERED ALLEY – PHASE 1 COMPLETED, PHASE 2 IN PROGRESS
Otsuchi-cho, Kamihei-gun, Iwate

Designed by Shizuyo Shiba

SUMMARY
The first set of four covered stairways was built by the end of December 2012. The stairway was constructed with the traditional Japanese joinery. The quality of work granted them the second phase of the project to complete all covered stairs, connecting all five buildings.

The second phase construction began immediately after the phase one, but, due to the snowy winter weather in Tohoku, the outside construction work has been slowed significantly. The carpenters have been working inside cutting lumber and preparing for the second phase of work. As soon as weather permits, construction will recommence on the remaining stairs.

Start of construction is forecasted to be: End of June 2012. Construction duration forecasted to be: 6 to 8 weeks

IMPACT
• 800 residents of Akahama Temporary Housing Complex in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture

SHIZUGAWA BANYA - IN PROGRESS
Shizugawa, Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi
Designed by Takaharu Saito

SUMMARY
After a long negotiation with the design/build firm, and design workshops with the fishermen we are finally in the construction phase. The pre-fabricated structure will be delivered in late-May, and the construction is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2012.

IMPACT
• 15 Motohama fishermen
• 100 community members

SCHEDULE
Beginning of April 2012 – Construction documents, Building permit
Mid-April – Mid-May 2012 Fabrication
Mid-May – End of May 2012 Site work
June1, 2012 – June 25,2012 Container installation
June 30, 2012 – Construction complete

CHALLENGES AHEAD
These fishermen are desperately in need of the banya because of the harsh weather. We are monitoring the schedule and the cost closely in order to provide the structure as soon as possible.

OSHIKA HOUSE - IN PROGRESS
Ayukawa-hama, Ishinomaki, Miyagi
Designed by Doogs Design

SUMMARY
The community partner called “Tumugiya” and the Women’s Group of Oshika Peninsula Fishing Union in Ayukawa-hama named “Mermamaid” have been facing challenge after challenge.

First, the local government told them that the road in front of the planned construction site might be raised in future. Therefore they have to find the solution so that the building can be easily dismantled and reassembled if they need to relocate.

Their next challenge was that a local carpenter in Oshika Peninsula whom they would like to work with became unavailable for this project. They have to expand their search for a new contractor to Tokyo, because there is a serious shortage of labor throughout Tohoku. Finally they found a builder in Tokyo to take on this project.

IMPACT
• 7 Mermamaid members and their families
• Approximately 1,000 Ayukawahama residents

SCHEDULE
Mid-March 2012 - Construction Document completed
April 2012 - Final cost estimate and adjustment (if necessary) by the selected contractor, Building permit
May – July 2012 - Construction
Beginning of August 2012 - Construction complete

Hikado Marketplace

HIKADO MARKETPLACE - COMPLETED

SUMMARY
The covered wooden deck made of salvaged timber from the tsunami was completed in June 2011. The owner, carpenters and all parties involved making this a reality had a big opening celebration in July. In the beginning of August, people from three neighboring communities had a very successful annual summer festival. Now, people that have moved into nearby temporary housing come and enjoy a bowl of ramen noodles for lunch and a glass of cold beer after work.

IMPACT
• 3 shop owners
• Community members of Motoyoshi (approximated population of the town is 12,000)
• Tourists

CONSTRUCTION COST
$9,100 construction grant

Jun 11, 2012

50% Closer to Changing a Life

We have exciting news we’d like to share with you!  Starting at 12:01 am EDT on June 13th, GlobalGiving will match online donations to our projects at 50%. 

This means that your gift will go 50% further to help families affected by tragedy overcome difficult obstacles for a happier, healthier future.

Consider giving again to Emergency Aid to Tsunami & Earthquake Survivors or see our many other projects helping devastated communities worldwide recover and rebuild.

And there is more.

The organization that raises the most funds on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving.  And an additional $1,000 will be given to the organization with the most unique donors

There are $75,000 available in matching funds – we need you to act fast before they’re gone!  If you’ve been waiting for the right time to give, Wednesday is the day.  Please don’t hesitate.

Our lifesaving work is possible because of you.  Thank you in advance for your generosity. 

Links:

Jun 6, 2012

> 3,000,000 data points!

New Map 6/2012
New Map 6/2012

We're pretty excited to have broken the 3 million data point marker recently. Starting at 0 just over a year ago, and only breaking a million in December - this is very exciting for us. We've recently finished up some agreements which, if all goes well, could put us on track to add a million new points ever month by the end of the year. This data is already being used by universities, doctors, communities and researchers all over the world.

We're actively working on base-lining the planet now. If we had the kind of data that we now have from prior to March of 2011 we'd know a lot more about what actually happened - as it stands we have to speculate a bit. Once we get things mapped all over, the next time something happens we'll be able to reference this data set and set the changes exactly as they happen which will be fantastic. We're hoping to cover some significant locations before the end of the year as well.

To see all this we'll be launching a whole new visualization platform any day now that will let you look at our data over time as well as compare it against other data sets (like earthquakes, reactor locations, census info, etc) which will tell an more robust story we hope.

Thanks for the continuing support!!

Links:

Jun 1, 2012

We made 14 Relief Trips since January

Teens helping out
Teens helping out

Hands on Tokyo continues to actively engage volunteers in relief efforts at a pace of two three times every month. Listening closely to our partner's needs, we engage our volunteers in meaningful project activities in the affected areas. Already, we have made 14 trips this year and with the help of your support for this project, we have been able to organize 9 trips in just the last 2 months! Distributing winter clothes, making an evacuation route, making candles, helping a strawberry farm, preparing for the Rebirth festival and running the famous Hands On Tokyo Cafe and BBQ were some of the activities our volunteers helped organize and run. To give you an idea of just how keen people are about supporting those afftected from the 311 disaster, 1,085 volunteers spent more than 3,500 hours, giving back to 3,135 people. All this accomplished in the last 4 months is quite some work!

Starting early this Summer, Hands On Tokyo together with local builders will start construction of a community house (the first building to be built in the town of Ogatsu after the disaster). We will be recruiting many volunteers to actually participate in building this log-house and we are extremely excited about the launch of this project! 

Volunteers helping out at a strawberry farm
Volunteers helping out at a strawberry farm
Volunteers placing candles in bamboo holders
Volunteers placing candles in bamboo holders

Links:

May 16, 2012

Reading Picture Books to Kindergarteners in Fukushima

All ears (Koriyama City, Fukushima - 23 Feb 2012)
All ears (Koriyama City, Fukushima - 23 Feb 2012)

"Due to radiation concerns, the children have only been allowed to play outside 5 times since the day of the disaster.”

On February 23rd, 2012, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR JAPAN) visited Tachibana Kindergarten in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. In addition to reading the picture book “Not Mines, but Flowers”, AAR JAPAN delivered 90 hand-made tote bags that were collected from supporters all over Japan, as well as delivering 90 boxes of chocolate with messages collected through AAR JAPAN’s Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign.

There were once 100 children at Tachibana Kindergarten, but after the March 11th earthquake, 30 children evacuated outside of Fukushima Prefecture. At the same time, 15 new children entered the school from Kawauchi Village, Tomioka Town, Namie Town, and Minami-Soma City, all of which are located within the 20-km evacuation zone around Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

Koriyama City is located far from the nuclear plant, but some areas of the city continue to record high levels of radiation. Ms. Yuko TANIZU, director of the kindergarten, told us of the three dosimeters that have been set up in the kindergarten. “We allow the children to play outside only when the dosimeters record less than 0.5 micro Sieverts per hour. Unfortunately, the children have only been able to play outside five times since the earthquake. We tried to decontaminate the yard, replaced the sand in the sandbox, and cut down our hiba trees (a kind of cypress), which are believed to absorb radiation. We are trying our best to create a safe environment for the children.” Ms. TANIZU asked for our support in holding a social event where the children could enjoy playing indoors in order to relieve the stress of being contained inside for so long. 

“Their eyes were shining. It was different from usual.”

When we arrived at the kindergarten, all the children sat in the hall in anticipation. Published by AAR JAPAN, the picture book “Not Mines, but Flowers” features Sunny-chan, AAR JAPAN’s rabbit mascot, in a story about the victims of landmines in recovering war-torn nations. The content would have seemed difficult for kindergarteners, but they all listened intently. While listening they made enthusiastic comments such as, “I went to foreign countries, too,” or “I’ve heard of Sunny-chan!

When the book was done, the children were very excited to have Sunny-chan appear right in front of them! They lined up to receive chocolate from Sunny-chan, saying “Thank you” and shaking hands, exchanging high fives, and hugging her. The children also received hand-made tote bags with Sunny-chan key chains, which they took back home with care. “They look really happy,” Ms. TANIZU told us. “Their eyes are shining. It’s different from usual. We also really appreciate the messages that accompanied the chocolate and bags.”

Radiation, Unemployment, Health: Worries Continue

When the children’s parents came to pick them up after the event, we spoke to two mothers living in subsidized apartments in Koriyama City. They had both relocated from towns within the evacuation zone, having drifted for months from one temporary shelter to another. The first, from Namie Town, had two boys aged 6 and 4. There seems to be no end to her worries. “We used to live in a big family of 10, three generations of us together,” she said. “But now we all live separately. My husband quit his job at the Fukushima nuclear power station, but he couldn’t find any other job. We’re worried about our parents’ health, but we’re seldom able to see them. We want them to see our boys.”

The other mother had two girls, one 5 and the other 18 months. Her husband is currently working at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, handling the aftermath of the accident at the 3rd reactor. “I can only see my husband once every two weeks. My children cry more often since we evacuated. My grandparents survived the tsunami, but they died at the nursing home where they were evacuated. We moved to a subsidized apartment, and sometimes I don’t talk to anyone at all because we don’t know the neighbors. We don’t get information from anyone. I want to find someone to take care of my second girl so I can go work, but there is nowhere to go. I want the children to play outside, but they can’t because of the radiation. Since the disaster, my first child hasn’t been able to practice riding the bicycle, so I worry that she’ll never learn how.” She had so many worries and concerns. However, when she received the hand-made tote bag and chocolate, she smiled and looked happy. “I really appreciate everyone’s warm support. It’s really nice of them to send us these bags and hand-written messages.”

More than one year has passed since the earthquake. AAR JAPAN will continue providing support to the disaster-affected people of Fukushima Prefecture, as well as linking our supporters to people in the disaster zone.

See the following link for more on Sunny-chan and the picture book
“Not Mines, but Flowers”, published by AAR JAPAN:
http://www.aarjapan.gr.jp/english/sunny/index.html

Join the circle of support for earthquake survivors: Give Now

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Nice to meet you! (at Tachibana Kindergarten)
Nice to meet you! (at Tachibana Kindergarten)
Chocolates from Sunny-chan (Tachibana Kindergrtn.)
Chocolates from Sunny-chan (Tachibana Kindergrtn.)
Monitoring radiation exposure (Tachibana Kinderg.)
Monitoring radiation exposure (Tachibana Kinderg.)
May 14, 2012

Rebuilding Workplaces for Persons with Disabilities

New bakery building (Iwate Pref., 20 Jan 2012)
New bakery building (Iwate Pref., 20 Jan 2012)


Social Welfare Facility’s Bread Factory Expanded

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, AAR JAPAN has been providing equipment and supporting the repair and maintenance of approximately 50 social welfare facilities in the disaster-affected areas. One of the facilities we support is Huck’s House, a vocational center for persons with disabilities in Tanohata Village, Iwate Prefecture.

Before the earthquake, the facility’s users made calamari in a seafood processing plant, bread in a bread factory, and Japanese pickles in an agricultural processing plant, all of which were run by Huck’s House. The seafood processing plant brought in a significant income, but the seaside plant was totally destroyed by the March 11th tsunami. To compensate, the facility decided to expand the bread factory and agricultural processing plant, which fortunately escaped damage from the tsunami. The new buildings of the bread factory and agricultural processing plant were completed at the end of December 2011.

Baking Class at the New Factory

The users of Huck’s House were very happy with the new bread factory. While full production will commence once all of the new equipment is installed in May 2012, partial production has already begun using the existing baking equipment.

On January 31st, 10 elementary and 5 junior high school students from the neighboring special needs school attended baking classes led by the baking supervisors at Huck’s House. This was the students’ first time to bake bread. All of them were excited to put on white caps, aprons and face masks, and they listened carefully to the instructions of Mr. Hideki TAKESHITA, the factory manager. “Bread dough breathes,” he told them—and for a moment everyone was afraid to touch the dough with their hands. When facility manager Atsuko TAKESHITA told them that they could make their favorite shapes with the dough, the students smiled and quickly started to make their own original designs.

When the students were done, the tray was lined with shapes of bread that were unique in the world. One boy made his bread in the image of his favorite teacher’s face, planning to give it to him when it was done. Another boy made a rainbow of 7 different types of jam along a 30-cm length of bread, hoping to surprise his friends. One girl simply crammed the dough with as much jam as she could.

The 3 bakers at Huck’s House supported the elementary school students. Like dependable elder brothers, they carried heavy trays, spread the students’ requested jams, and helped students who couldn’t close their dough around their jam. The dough was placed in the oven, and the bread was ready a short time later. The students were happy first with the pleasant smells, and then to see their own unique designs.

A Place for Interaction in the Community

Mr. Kiichi SOJIGAMI used to work at the seafood processing plant. “I was worried because I didn’t know when we could start working again,” he told us. “And we couldn’t see our colleagues because we needed to stay at home for a while after the earthquake.” Now he has started working at the newly-expanded bread factory. He told us enthusiastically, “I am learning now, but I want to be better. I’ll practice every day.”

Huck’s House has been selected to make bread for school lunch in the village, which is anticipated to offer a stable revenue stream. The neighbors both in the nearby temporary housing complex and in the local community are looking forward to having bread from Huck’s House, and the venue is expected to be a place for interaction in the community.

This project has been made possible thanks to many individual donations and through a grant from Japan Platform.

              HELP EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS STAND UP ON THEIR FEET - GIVE NOW
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Baker Kiichi SHOJIGAMI (Huck
Baker Kiichi SHOJIGAMI (Huck's House, Iwate Pref.)
Student at Huck
Student at Huck's House (Iwate Pref., 31 Jan 2012)
Smile for you (Huck
Smile for you (Huck's House, 31 Jan 2012)
May 15, 2012

Isatomae tent is in good use and shops are busier than Winter time.

Tent Shop Entrance
Tent Shop Entrance

Isatomae tent shops are a little bit busier than Winter season. A barber shop is the busiest one in the tent. The owner installed the second haircut chair and also a modern massage equipment which provides massage while a customer is sitting in a haircut chair. Sometimes, customers have to wait for their turn. The owner decorated the shop in such a nice way that customers do not feel that they are inside a tent. Other than the barber shop, a liquor shop has a display of a large number of alcohol beverages. And also small food shop and a mountain school are in operation. Sometimes NGOs come and conduct their activities. The tent is in a good use, though the number of customers is not as large as shop owners wish, except the barber shop owner. However, since the tent is operated free of charge, shop owners are not losing money.

Temporary shops are operating in the government-provided temporary housing. They are attracting customers, because they are situated in the foot of a small mountain, whose top the tent shops are located. Since the temporary
shops
are much nicer and warmer, and are holding diverse events to attract customers, it is becoming quite difficult to attract a large number of customers to the tent shops. But now, a reconstruction talk is taking place. The Isatomae community requested the government to elevate the land and roads where the present temporary shops are located. As soon as redevelopment starts, may be within a year, they have to evacuate the present place. As a solution to this problem, they are discussing to move all shops back to the place where the tent shops are. This means that when the construction starts, the tent shops will be the center of shopping in Isatomae until construction will be completed. Since temporary shop owners have to pay a fairly big sum to prepare themselves to dismantle the temporary housing, in the end shops might not gain much more in the operation of a fairly short period than those owners operating in the tent shops. It is, however, much nicer to feel in the temporary shop that their business is in demand by a fairly good number of customers. But the Isatomae shop tent may become the center of community activities again in a near future.

Barber Shop
Barber Shop
Shop Owners and Customers
Shop Owners and Customers
Wine Shop
Wine Shop
Mountain School
Mountain School
May 14, 2012

Biodiesel enterprise fuels Japan economic recovery

Tomihiro and Akiko Kashiwagi using business grant
Tomihiro and Akiko Kashiwagi using business grant

If you had never visited Japan’s tsunami-ravaged coast until now, the bleak landscape where homes and businesses once stood would be sobering.

Having watched the relief effort and the recovery, my visits back to the Tohoku region have been increasingly reassuring. In fact, my recent visit with partner colleagues was inspiring. We were there to witness the signs of recovery – and we found many. Thank you for your donation to make these improvements possible!

At a recent event organized by Kesennuma Shinkin, a local cooperative bank we’re partnering with to support small business recovery, 13 entrepreneurs were awarded grants. The recipients from Kesennuma and three neighboring coastal towns have used the funds to start new businesses in the disaster area. Their businesses run the gamut — from a day care center, a fish processor and a baker to a machine repair shop, a mulberry tea producer and an ice-making factory.

In only five months since its inauguration, this Mercy Corps program has funded the startup of 20 new businesses (like the three featured in this video) and supported the recovery of an additional 50 businesses through a loan subsidy program. Well over 300 jobs have been created in the process.

But the program does more than restore jobs — it recreates livelihoods and self-determination. Each of the entrepreneurs has an incredible story to tell and an important contribution to make.

Like Tomohiro Kashiwagi, whose repair shop was completely destroyed by the tsunami. Without a building or the capital to buy or build one, he and his wife, Akiko, are starting from the ground up with a completely new — and very innovative — business in their home. They are recycling cooking oil into fuel.

Kashiwagi has lined up a string of restaurants as a source of used cooking oil. He collects it and refines it using a machine that he bought with his grant. He then sells the fuel for use in converted diesel engines. It’s not only good for the couple — and good for the environment — it’s good for customers, as it sells for about 30% less than commercial diesel fuel. The city of Kesennuma, in fact, is Kashiwagi’s primary customer, having converted some of its garbage trucks to run on his recycled vegetable oil. He says they smell like fried chicken when they drive by!

It was a very moving day. Because of your support, the lives of hardworking entrepreneurs, their families and their community ar being transformed. Thank you.

Links:

Apr 24, 2012

GlobalGiving report from Japan

Mari meets residents in the temporary housing
Mari meets residents in the temporary housing

During the first week of April, GlobalGiving’s president and co-founder Mari Kuraishi and director of programs, Britt Lake, visited the people and organizations that were supported by your donations to GlobalGiving’s Japan Relief and Recovery Fund.  Below is Mari’s account of the time they spent in the Tohoku region.

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As I sat in the train back to Tokyo thinking about the week I had just spent visiting GlobalGiving partners in the Tohoku region, three things stuck with me:

  1. The tsunami damage stretched for hundreds of miles up the Japanese coast north of Ibaragi prefecture all the way up to Iwate. For most of the trip we drove a car up the coast roads; as we would round a bend high above the coast, the road would then descend into a low lying flat area--and there would be the tell-tale signs of a vanished town: concrete house foundations. Sometimes we’d see ten or twenty foundations; sometimes they would stretch far into the horizon. Town after town after town, all low-lying communities were gone.
  2. People are rebuilding.  This rebuilding is almost always commercial structures – often gas stations, convenience stores, and pachinko parlors. In some instances entire factories have been rebuilt – a pulp factory in Ishinomaki was one of the most visible examples. The debris is all neatly piled and sorted, but it looms over the damaged areas in piles that are sometimes several stories high, clearly with no place to go. Residential housing, on the other hand, is in limbo. Many multi-story houses remain standing with their first floors gutted by the tsunami, but people still live on the intact second floors.  Other homes remain abandoned. In many areas the government has not given permission for residents to rebuild.  The lack of explicit permission to build does not yet amount to an outright ban, and no compensatory payments have been issued for people whose homes and business are in what will likely become no-build areas. 
  3. Many people are still living in temporary housing compounds.  These temporary homes are built from containers and are about 300+ square feet per household.  They are generally located far uphill and away from the coast, so people are now living quite far from where their homes were originally located.  The temporary housing placements were determined through a lottery system, so communities and neighbors are split up and are often located far from one another. People are making do by buying cars and driving to where their jobs, schools, or family are located. But for those who do not drive, the temporary housing compounds are a lonely place – far from anything familiar, and filled with people they have never met before the disaster.

We visited over almost a dozen organizations in towns and cities across Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.  Along the way, we delivered origami cranes and messages of hope from GlobalGiving donors like you. (Click to see how how the messages were created and then delivered.) We left every visit amazed at how people were beginning to pull their lives back together, but also daunted at the monumental tasks still left ahead.

We visited one temporary housing complex dedicated to families with special needs where a woman kindly invited us into her home. It was immaculate, but tiny.  The 300+ sq ft per-household size really hadn't hit me until we followed her in and found ourselves immediately in the main room.  It was a combination kitchen, living room, and bedroom, where her immobilized son was on the heated carpeted floor that she explained was essential to his avoiding joint pains that would cause him to cry out. She explained that the size was fine with just the two of them – it got a little crowded when her husband came home once every 3 months.  He works as a fisherman in the far south of Kyushu.  Despite the size and the location, she said was happy to be in the housing complex.  Because every household in the compound had a family member with special needs, they had actually known each other before the disaster through various service centers in the area, so they had a support network within the compound – something most other people didn’t have in their temporary housing.  She hoped the families could all stay together once more permanent housing was built.

In a temporary shopping center much further north, we went to a lunch pot in a food mall and, because Britt is vegetarian, got treated to a beautiful set course of , or Buddhist cuisine. It was the last thing I expected in a food mall, but there it was. The chef had owned a highly rated restaurant in the city of Otsuchi before the disaster that was destroyed in the tsunami. He had scraped together enough money to pay for some basic cooking equipment and set himself up in a temporary shopping center and he was beginning to make a living by cooking basic lunch foods for all the workers who had nowhere else to go.  He had been thrilled to show off his skills by cooking this special lunch for us.

At site after site, we came across young men and women who had deferred graduate school abroad, given up promising corporate careers at major multinational companies, or had given up jobs abroad in South Sudan, Paraguay, or Uganda to help rebuild their country.  Some had grown up in Tohoku, but others came north with no other desire than to serve. Japan is by-and-large a society with very rigid expectations and sense of hierarchy.  If you are successful, you attend one of a handful of good schools, then subsequently join the federal civil service, become a doctor or lawyer, or join a major multinational company. And when you do follow that path, there is a pretty long path of seniority to tread.  The people who were supporting and leading non-profits or social enterprises, on the other hand, were all getting to make substantive decisions about what made sense, what provided the highest value, and long term benefit to the communities where they lived.  Even more, they all seemed happy and fulfilled, if not somewhat exhausted. It was by far the most vibrant group of young Japanese people I have come across ever.

That gave me hope. Or, as a bumper sticker in Ishinomaki, said, "”It's tough to translate, as it's local dialect, but its spirit is closest to: "Don't mess with us, tsunami!"

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If you’d like to Mari and Britt’s accounts of each specific project they visited, you can read their postcards from the field on our Japan Updates page.

A building near Ishinomaki
A building near Ishinomaki
A fisherman helped by JEN
A fisherman helped by JEN's program
One of the temporary fish markets
One of the temporary fish markets
Apr 23, 2012

Visiting Otsuchi high school

Giving Principal Yamagata a donor crane & message
Giving Principal Yamagata a donor crane & message

High on the bluff of the city of Otsuchi is the prefectural high school. For several months after the disaster the high school gym was one of the main evacuation centers of the city where fires burned for up to four days following the earthquake and tsunami. Because the tsunami struck during the students' spring break--and Japanese school years start in April--the start of school was delayed by several weeks last year. But for the students that were able to make it, some were living in the gym with their families well into the summer, and when finally they were assigned to temporary housing, they discovered that they were now unaccustomedly far from school. Because the temporary housing--small container houses of approximately 300+ sq ft for each household--had to be located in areas that were not going to be damaged by tsunamis caused by the strong aftershocks that continue to this day, they were necessarily far from the port town of Otsuchi, tucked into the valleys that snake up behind the bluffs at the outer perimeter of the city.

For those students, these scholarship funds give them and their families just a little bit more leeway to pay for the university prep courses that every aspiring college student needs to take, and gives them a sense that somebody out there cares whether they succeed or fail. For privacy reasons we didn't have an opportunity to meet the students that received the scholarship funds, but the school principal reported that he was encouraged to see that student enrollment had ticked up again this year after a drop following the tsunami. Many students had relocated with their families, going to live with relatives far from Otsuchi, but some had managed to come back. The school was not damaged structurally by the earthquake, so it creates a little haven of continuity to the pre 3.11 world that looks so remote everywhere else in the city.

Before and after at Otsuchi
Before and after at Otsuchi
Apr 17, 2012

Bringing back oysters and scallops to the bay

Hatakeyama-san
Hatakeyama-san

We met with Koji Arisawa and Waichiro Katsuda from Civic Force in the port city of Kesennuma, on a blustery but clear day, April 4 2012. They took us through a backroad through the mountains until we saw the sea again. Like every other coastal town we had seen on this trip north from Sendai, no houses remained, but a road stretched out towards the point. So we drove down as far as we could, then scrambled along the rocky coast until we happened on a low slung building that used to house an oyster research facility. Inside were a dozen women threading baby scallops onto ropes.

Hatakeyama-san is one of 3 brothers, whose father's house was one of the only houses spared by the tsunami, because his house was up on a bluff overlooking the shallow bay area. He and his brothers had also been active in environmental preservation in the area trying to prevent deforestation and preserving water quality long before the tsunami. So when their parents' house was the only one spared in the area, and they were able to leverage their relationship with the oyster research station to arrange for an immediate lease and conversion into an ad hoc shellfish cultivation station to re-employ villagers, they jumped at the chance. Now villagers--who have to drive 30 minutes now to get to the cultivation station from the temporary housing that they have all been relocated to--are one of the few people who can point to oyster and scallop harvests for 2012, being one of the first fishermen back at the business in the week after the earthquake and tsunami.

Every single one of the survivors has a story. Hatakeyama-san's younger brother was in a boat when the tsunami struck, having tried but failed to get out to the higher seas, but managed to swim his way out to one of the many little islands dotting the bay. From there he was eventually rescued by the one boat that survived the devastation because it had been anchored far out, to be back buying seed oysters and scallops a week after 3.11.

Fresh scallop, ready for market
Fresh scallop, ready for market
First back to market after 3.11
First back to market after 3.11
Ajisawa-san from Civic Force
Ajisawa-san from Civic Force
Apr 13, 2012

GlobalGiving visits ETIC in Japan

Busy making jewelry
Busy making jewelry

Over the past two and a half weeks, I’ve been traveling through Japan and the Tohoku region visiting the areas affected by last year’s earthquake and tsunami and seeing the progress that has been made by organizations supported by GlobalGiving donors.  Every day I have asked people one question: What is most needed for the recovery of the Tohoku region; and every day I hear the same thing: jobs.  In a region largely known for fishing and agricultural industry, the tsunami destroyed the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of families.  People are eager to get back on their feet, but need help restarting businesses that were washed away in the tsunami.


After hearing so much about the importance of economic recovery in the Tohoku region, it was wonderful to visit ETIC staff and see the great work that this organization is doing to create employment in the region.  ETIC matches talented young professionals with social enterprises in the Tohoku region.  These young professionals leave their jobs to work full time for up to a year helping to launch small businesses or other social projects in the tsunami-affected area.  This model both brings new, innovative ideas to the affected area, and also helps foster a sense of community involvement and public service among fellows that last throughout their lives.

On April 4, I visited two ETIC small business projects, along with GlobalGiving co-founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle.  First, we visited a group of mothers in a small fishing community on the Oshika Peninsula in Ishinomaki, who were making high-quality necklaces and earrings out of antlers.  The group sells the necklaces for Y2,000 (about $24) online and in local shops. The ETIC fellow running the project meticulously measured the jewelry and tested the quality before accepting each one.  But what was most amazing was not that the group was making a high-quality project, but that they had more demand than they could fill!  So often we have visited projects where people are creating items that no one was buying.  This was a great case of a small business that was working, thanks to the hard work of both the mothers and the ETIC fellow.

We also visited a new restaurant in Ishinomaki’s city center.  Just days from their grand opening, the staff was bustling trying to get things ready – painting walls, finalizing menus, and rearranging furniture.  Their goal was not just to create a restaurant, but to create a center where the community could come together to share a meal and conversation to start rebuilding their lives.  The bright walls were inviting, and the location – near other shops and across from the train station – was perfect.

We had a chance to talk to some of the staff.  We heard stories about how they survived the tsunami and why they wanted to join in this new enterprise.  One of the new cooks told us about how he escaped last year’s tsunami by climbing on the roof of his business and swimming to safety.  Another told us of her desire to give back to the community.   While we talked, the staff brought us food from the new menu.   The goal of the restaurant was good food and conversation, and that’s exactly what we experienced.

In just one day we saw the very real impact that ETIC is having in the lives of people – from Fellows to tsunami survivors – throughout Tohoku.

ETIC fellow visits the jewelry project
ETIC fellow visits the jewelry project
Apr 13, 2012

GlobalGiving visits Architecture for Humanity

AfH architects and staff discuss plans
AfH architects and staff discuss plans

Architecture for Humanity is bringing architects, and other design professionals, together with communities to rebuild Tohoku after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.  On April 6, I was lucky to be invited to join the Architecture for Humanity staff in a planning meeting to see how the process actually works.   On the drive to the meeting in the local city hall in Kitikami, AfH staff Takaharu Saito, explained to me a little bit about the project that would be discussed.  He explained that a group of mothers living in nearby temporary shelters had proposed the idea for the “We are One” Market – a central space where elderly and others living in the temporary shelters could shop for groceries, where students could study and children could play, and where community members could come together as they plan rebuilding their lives.  AfH is working with the mothers to design and build the building they need to make their dream a reality.

The goal for the day to go over the preliminary plans and make any final suggestions and changes to the plan before the architect started on the final blue prints.  Attending the meeting were two women initiating the project, three AfH staff, the (pro-bono) architect, and a local government official.  It was amazing to see the various stakeholders working together for a common goal.  Each had been affected by the tsunami in his or her own way.  They had lost homes and friends and communities, but they were coming to improve their situation together.

Throughout the course of the next few hours much was discussed: Should the building be one or two stories?  Who would be the primary users of the building?  Did it make more sense to build a children’s center or a general meeting room?  Should the commerce section have a difference entrance than the community center section?  All voices were listened to equally and in turn and a few hours later, there was a design that incorporated ideas from each person in the room. 

The mothers are eager to get started and aren’t waiting for the completion of the building to get their business and community center running.  They’ll be operating out of a temporary structure while construction starts alongside them in the permanent structure.  On April 14, the “We are One Market” launches as one step closer to rebuilding the community so many lost in last year’s disaster.

"We are One" Market launches on April 14
"We are One" Market launches on April 14
Apr 13, 2012

GlobalGiving visits JEN in Japan

JEN staff visits with a woman in temporary housing
JEN staff visits with a woman in temporary housing

On April 6, Japan Emergency NGOs (JEN) invited me on a visit with their staff to see some of the communities they are working with in the Tohoku region, where last year’s earthquake and tsunami devastated hundreds of miles of coastline and towns.  I came to JEN’s local field office in Ishinomaki and met with three of their staff: Taku Kawada, Hiroyuki Kogure, and Tetsuo Kimura.  We started the day with an overview of the work that JEN has carried out over the past year – from food distribution and rubble removal early on, to longer-term efforts to rebuild communities more recently.  JEN is currently working in 13 of the most hard-to-reach temporary housing compounds in the Ishinomaki area.  This means not just the JEN choose to work in areas hard-hit by last year’s disaster, but that JEN goes out of their way to find and assist the communities furthest away from other services.

This certainly seemed the case during the rest of our site visit.  At about 10am, we piled into the car and drove out of the city to Oshika Peninsula, where about 2,000 people now live.  We continued driving until the road turned into a dirt path.  We passed oyster beds and fishing boats, in town after town we saw the destruction the tsunami left in its wake.  We finally arrived at one of the temporary shelter homes, where we saw container after container filled with families who had lost their homes last year.  We went into the community

Throughout the rest of the day I saw a lot of other projects JEN is running in the Ishinomaki area – from children’s centers to fishing projects.  It’s clear that the work their doing is needed and appreciated by the community.  Perhaps the most impressive thing, however, was not the work that is being done, but rather the plans the JEN staff continue to develop to further their work in these communities –and the passion in which they execute those plans.

During my visit we talked about the need for further psycho-social support for survivors of this disaster, as well as innovative ideas to re-start businesses in the region.  JEN is continuing to raise funds for their efforts in Tohoku and plan to stay in the area for several years to come.  Seeing the work that JEN is carrying out, and talking to the people affected by donations like yours, made me was proud to be a GlobalGiver!

One temporary housing compound where JEN works
One temporary housing compound where JEN works
JEN helps fishermen make new nets
JEN helps fishermen make new nets
Kids at a community center supported by JEN
Kids at a community center supported by JEN
Apr 11, 2012

A visit with Brother Trevino

Living Dreams/GlobalGiving staff with Br Trevino
Living Dreams/GlobalGiving staff with Br Trevino

Up on a little hill in Sendai is the LaSalle Home for Children, led by Brother Rodrigo Trevino. This is where school supplies and other materials from Living Dreams were sent in the past months. The home houses 80 children ages 2-18--with a preponderance of boys because until 1997 the home was a boys' home--but there are about a dozen girls there now too, including one of the girls orphaned by the tsunami last year.

The older children live in 3-4 bedroom apartments inside the home each with a den mother, each group with a range of ages, each with its own bathroom and kitchen. We happened to be at the home on the first Monday of April, when the kids about to enter first grade get to move from the big dorm rooms that house the little ones to one of these family style apartments--as we found out when we were introduced to six-year old Luke. His first announcement to us was that he was all packed and ready to go--up to join the older boys in an apartment upstairs.

The home is lovely, with a gym large enough for volleyball and school plays, and a baseball and soccer field out back. The gym came in handy when the kids and staff took refuge there while the electricity and water were out in Sendai for over a week (the gym has a separate heating system fueled by kerosene tanks).

Over 40% of the kids are there because they have been taken away from abusive situations at home--an alarming statistic considering that Japan only signed on to the UN declaration of the rights of the child in 1994--which is when child abuse became an acceptable reason for the state to put the kids in fostercare. But the love and thoughtfulness with which Brother Travinjo and his staff interacted with the kids and designed the structure of the home could go a long way to comfort them.

Apr 8, 2012

GlobalGiving visits AAR in Japan

Residents practice their stretching with AAR
Residents practice their stretching with AAR

For the past year I’ve been communicating with the great staff at the Association of Aid and Relief (AAR) in Japan, but last Sunday I was able to meet them in person and see firsthand the fabulous work that AAR is doing in the earthquake and tsunami affected areas in Tohoku that you have helped to support.

Our day started early as we made our way up to Sendai – about two hours north of Tokyo on the bullet train – where we were met by the AAR team.  They took us to visit three of the projects GlobalGiving donors are helping to support in the area around Ishinomaki.

On our first stop I met Sao Abe.  Mr. Abe was an Oyster fisherman on an island in Miyagi Prefecture before the earthquake and tsunami destroyed his home and livelihood on March 11 last year.  With his home gone, he was moved into a temporary shelter closer inland with his elderly mother.  Mr. Abe is a jokester with a natural smile and was part of a group that Mari, GlobalGiving’s President, and I met with during a site visit   He lives in a temporary shelter reserved for elderly or handicapped people with 35 other families.  The community center where we met is a small room that serves as a meeting place where the residents can talk, drink tea, read books, and start to reform the communities they lost in the disaster.  AAR provides services to help the people living in the temporary shelters to cope with the disaster and start to build a new community.   We joined the group in stretching exercises led by a physical therapist AAR brings in to help support the residents in the shelter.  They spoke highly of AAR’s involvement in the temporary shelter and with the people who live there.  During our visit, GlobalGiving's president, Mari Kuraishi, delivered cards with messages from GlobalGiving donors.

Next we visited a “container mall” that was built by AAR.  Before the tsunami hit Tohoku, many residents had small businesses that they had built their entire lives.  When their businesses, and the buildings they were housed in, were lost in the disaster, many families felt hopeless.  AAR supported the construction of a temporary mini-mall built from containers that currently house eight small businesses.  The best part for us was not just seeing the construction of the building and the operation of the shops, but also to see the cooperation among the various non-profit groups as well.  AAR built the main structure, but two other organizations had worked with them to improve the construction and support the businesses.

Finally, we visited a newly built fish market that was helping fishing families and small business owners rebuild their livelihoods.  In this case AAR hadn’t built the structure, but had supplied the refrigerator that was necessary in order to run a fish shop.  Without the refrigerator, the owners wouldn’t have been able to sell the fish before they go bad. Nicolette, our AAR host, explained to us that some of what AAR does is to provide the small – but necessary - things that people need to start to rebuild their lives.   Because of this, even small donations go a long way toward positive change for people in the Tohoku region.  Thanks for supporting these efforts!

Mari gives cards to Mr. Abe and other residents
Mari gives cards to Mr. Abe and other residents
The "container mall" built by AAR.
The "container mall" built by AAR.
The surrounding area was destroyed by the tsunami.
The surrounding area was destroyed by the tsunami.
Working in the temporary fish market.
Working in the temporary fish market.
Apr 8, 2012

GlobalGiving visits Peace Winds in Japan

"Some of our fishermen are already back out at sea.  Others have new boats and are ready to go, but the government has not yet decided where the docks will go.  Our guys are frustrated, but we are making progress, bit by bit."

Last week a group of us visited two fishing cooperatives in the small coastal town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi. The Shizugawa Fishing Cooperative and the Udatsu Fishing Cooperative together support nearly 1,500 members in the industry that drives the economy in these small coastal towns.  Peace Winds America (PWA) and Peace Winds Japan (PWJ), with support from GlobalGiving donors, are helping these coops get back on their feet after the majority of their boats and many lives were lost.

The first order of business was to help the coops replace the facilities and office equipment lost to the tsunami.  The quote above was from the director of one of the coops. We were having coffee in the coop's new headquarters, which was made up of several temporary housing units bolted together.  Around us was a beehive of activity, with fishermen coming in and out, and people reviewing spreadsheets on computer screens.  They were reviewing the previous day's catch, checking on market prices, and deciding where to fish the next day.

Despite a tragic number of deaths, the director had rebuilt the roster of coop members to its previous level.  That was impressive given the total devastation of the town, which had few houses left.  Nearly all the survivors were living in temporary housing units scattered throughout the area; many can't rebuild on their previous land, because the water level rose over a meter after the earthquake.

"What are your biggest remaining challenges?" we asked.

"Well, the big thing is where we are going to put the docks, as I said," he replied.  "Until the government decides that, we can't get back up to capacity.

"And then there is the question of boats.  We lost much of our fleet, and even though many of our fishermen have the funds to buy new boats, the manufacturers can't keep up with demand, and there are long delays.

"One of there things I am most worried about is the older fishermen.  If we don't get them back out on the water soon, they will never go back.  Many of them lost wives and other family, and they are very depressed.

"And then there is the issue of radiation.  We have been testing fish intensively, and the readings are very low.  But the government won't announce what the acceptable limits are, so some consumers don't trust the fish, however low the levels are.  That prevents us from selling certain types of fish that people believe are more likely to be affected."

These challenges sounded daunting to me.  But the director was resolute, and notwithstanding the huge tragedy he did not want to dwell on the past. His members had already re-built their revenues to two-thirds of the pre-tsunami level, and he was determined they are going to make a full recovery despite the odds.  It was impossible not to be impressed and inspired and hopeful.  We left the co-op and went to eat lunch at a temporary cafe.  What was on the menu?  Sushi made from the local catch.  It was fantastic.

GlobalGiving and Peace Winds staffs
GlobalGiving and Peace Winds staffs
Apr 9, 2012

1 Year Later: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Japan 1 Year Report
Japan 1 Year Report

More than a year ago, the northern coast of Japan was decimated following a massive earthquake and tsunami.  Countless people lost their lives, homes and business were destroyed, and radiation fears due to the damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima have added to the emotional toll of the disaster, as communities continue the long process of recovery.

International Medical Corps was on-the-ground 48 hours after the earthquake, reaching 20,000 people at evacuation centers.                

Since then, we’ve partnered with local organizations and the Japanese government to:

  • Provide critical supplies and medicines to evacuees in temporary housing;
  • Improve access to, and quality of mental health services by strengthening the capacity of local organizations and first-responders;
  • Rebuild neighborhoods;
  • Offer employment opportunities for those who lost their livelihoods following the disaster.

Our progress was possible thanks to your generosity.  Please, take some time today and read our 1-year report detailing our work in Japan since March 2011. 

And on behalf of all of us at International Medical Corps, thank you so much for your support!

Links:

Apr 4, 2012

Now closing "Disaster Relief Supplies Drive" Thank you for your great support!

Our local partner in front of the donated goods
Our local partner in front of the donated goods

Since April, 2011 Hands On Tokyo have been sending relief items to those affected in the Tohoku areas.

In February, we recieved a huge amount of goods from one of our Corporate Sponsors which we sent to our local partner in Tohoku during March. The goods have been passed out to locals living in Temporary Housing shelters. As we move further away from the earthquake and Tsunami, we notice that the needs of the locals is changing and we have also recieved great news that businesses are slowly starting up. In order to encourage their economic / business growth, Hands On Tokyo has decided to hold off this project for the time being.

Hands On Tokyo will continue relief efforts and would now like to focus on sending more volunteers to engage in relief projects in the Tohoku area and have posted a project accordingly. Donations made through this new project will allow us to reduce transportation fee of volunteers and to purchase necessary goods for projects to continue organizing meaningful volunteer opportunities in Tohoku.


Apr 2, 2012

Fellow's Story: Sustainable Business and Community

Tomoya Tada (Fellow)
Tomoya Tada (Fellow)

Oshika Peninsula is a secluded area in Tohoku. It takes an hour to get there from Ishinomaki-city by car. It is too far for aid goods and people to reach. People couldn't get enough help because of living in such an isolated place.

Tomoya Tada had been working at a global management consulting firm for two years. He wanted to do something for Tohoku’s recovery. However, as he was very busy with his work at the firm, he could finally visit Mr. Yuichi Tomohiro in Oshika in July 2011. They have known each other for a long time, since their university days.  Tomoya found that all of those he met there took pride in their work. This made him want to help them. On his way home, he send a email to his boss, telling that he would like to quit his job for heading to Tohoku.

From September 2011, Tomoya  took a leave of absence and from his job, and started to launch a new business in Oshika with Mr. Tomohiro. They hired women in Oshika, and started to make accessories using local materials such as fishing nets and antlers. Tomoya is in charge of the product development, production management, sales promotion, and accounting.

Tomoya said that the project is not only for business and job creation, but also for community building. Oshika is thinly-populated place with a little chance for the local to get together. Tomoya said, "I’m really happy to see local people working with  positive attitudes. Our goal is to create sustainable business and community. I’m thinking that I will be here for a long-term, at least 3 years.”

Profile: Tomoya worked for two years in the consulting firm in charge of marketing strategy, operation turnaround and new business development. He works for a job creation project through production of accessories using local materials. Mr. Tomohiro, the leader of the project, has studied in the same university. 

Apr 4, 2012

Annual Report 2011-2012

We have published an annual report including our activities, results, interviews, questionnaire survey and plan for the next fiscal year.

Thanks to your support, our recovery project have made steady progress. The number of Fellows reached 74 at the end of February 2012. To respond the increasing needs for young people with entrepreneurship and practical skills, we raised our 3-year target from 100 to 200 in November 2011.

Please see the report to find how young Fellows have contributed to recovery project as a core staff.


Attachments:
Mar 27, 2012

Messages for Japan

A message from a GlobalGiving donor for Japan
A message from a GlobalGiving donor for Japan

At the one year anniversary of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, we asked you, the GlobalGiving community, to write messages of encouragement that Mari, our President and I would hand-deliver to the people of Japan.  We collected more than 135 messages on Facebook and via text message, and last week our staff came together to fold origami cranes, to translate your notes into Japanese, and to assemble cards for people affected by the tragedy. (See some beautiful photos of the messages here.) 

Yesterday, after 14 hours of flying, Mari and I arrived in Tokyo ready for a busy trip to visit our partners on the ground.  Over the next two weeks, we will be meeting with the organizations and people who you have helped support with your donations to ensure that your dollars are having maximum impact on the people and communities affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

We are excited to report that we will be visiting almost every project that received support through the GlobalGiving Japan Relief and Recovery Fund.  We’re committed to keeping you informed of how your money has been spent, so a full list of the grants that were given in the past year is below:

 

Total Funds Disbursed

We’re also excited to tell you about three new grants that were just recently approved:

1) The International Medical Crises Response Alliance (IMCRA) will receive a grant of $100,000 to support direct onsite medical operations in Tohoku. IMCRA currently provides medical resource information, seminars, clinical toolkits and web-based operational platforms to clinicians, administrators, and populations impacted by the earthquake, tsunami and radiation disasters of March 11, particularly in the areas of radiation biology, dentistry in disrupted environment, geriatrics, and infectious disease prophylaxis.

2) Peace Winds received $149,932 to help fishing communities in Minamisanriku. Miyagi Prefecture.  This grant will allow them to accelerate economic recovery and create jobs through support to Minamisanriku’s two Fishing Cooperatives and their 800 members.

3) Project YUI was approved for $100,000 to support the establishment of daycare centers for children in temporary shelters including hiring local nurses and mothers as daycare center staff;  creating a “mom's community" for the mothers living in the same complex; and expansion to up to 15 sites by 2013.

And that’s not all – generous donors like yourself have donated an additional $2.3 million in the last four months!  We will continue to disburse those gifts to Japanese organizations working on long-term recovery over the next few months.  We have a busy few weeks ahead of us, but we feel privileged to be able to see first-hand the great work that you’re helping to make a reality and we'll continue to report back to you. 

Thank you again for your support and we invite you to leave a comment on the project wall if you have questions you'd like for us to ask while we are in Japan.

Warm wishes,
Britt and the GlobalGiving team

Restoring livelihoods in Japan by Peace Winds
Restoring livelihoods in Japan by Peace Winds
Mar 27, 2012

Support from the Heart

Which first? (Soma City, Fukushima, 18 Jan 2012)
Which first? (Soma City, Fukushima, 18 Jan 2012)

Japan: Sending Chocolates and Messages to Those Affected by the Disaster

One year has passed since the massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11th, 2011. The emergency phase of relief activities has passed, and with restoration progressing at a varying pace in different regions, aid and relief required for recovery are increasingly diversifying. Accordingly, AAR JAPAN has been engaged in an array of relief activities in the effort to address and accommodate the changing needs of those affected by the series of catastrophic events.

To Those Living in Temporary Houses in Fukushima Prefecture

AAR JAPAN, in collaboration with Rokkatei Confectionery Co. Ltd., a renowned sweets maker, has recently been conducting a “Magokoro Campaign (literally meaning true heart campaign),” in which chocolate boxes are delivered to those affected by the disaster. Messages of encouragement are sent along with the chocolate. Up until now, we have delivered a total of 896 boxes to persons living in Iitate Town and Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture. 

Driven to Tears by the Messages

On January 18th, 2012, at the City Welfare Center (Hamanasu-kan) in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, we delivered chocolate boxes with messages to approximately 230 families living in temporary houses. One mother found herself in tears from receiving a message that read “You are not alone, because there is always someone thinking of you.” Reading the message over and over, she told us that it has given her courage. Some of the mothers were jovially comparing messages, asking “What kind of message did you get? Want to see ours?” There is also another episode where we delivered chocolate to an elderly woman in her seventies who had lost her family in the tsunami. We remember she was driven to tears on the spot at her front door when she received the gift, saying “Someone I’ve never met before is trying to help me.” People who are living in temporary housing facilities have either lost their houses in the tsunami or were forced to evacuate their homes because they were too close to the nuclear power plants. So many of them have lost so much, and the Magokoro Campaign reminded us again how much it means to the affected persons to receive heart-warming messages. We feel the power of words every time we make a delivery!

Delighted Children Say ”These Chocolates are Great!”

The chocolate comes in 6 flavors: raspberry, maple, black tea, mango, passion fruit, and green tea. They are popular among the children precisely because of this variety in flavors. The children looked very happy with sweets in their hands, and told us “These chocolates are great!”

AAR JAPAN is committed to long-term recovery assistance for the affected population of the disaster areas. This year, we are planning to widen the focus of the "Building Healthy Communities" project to include the Fukushima region. Due to the nuclear power plant accident in March 2011, the needs of the population in Fukushima Prefecture are different as compared to other regions that have been hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and recovery is progressing at a slower pace.

To improve the psychological and physical conditions of persons living in Fukushima Prefecture, AAR JAPAN is planning to provide its mobile services in the region, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health counseling, and community building activities. Please stay with us and keep on supporting our efforts going forward!

Tastes good! (Soma City, Fukushima, 18 Jan 2012)
Tastes good! (Soma City, Fukushima, 18 Jan 2012)
Together (Soma City, Fukushima, 18 Jan. 2012)
Together (Soma City, Fukushima, 18 Jan. 2012)
Mar 18, 2012

Japan Tsunami: The Year in Review

Former site of Koyo Maritime High School
Former site of Koyo Maritime High School

“It has been a year past from the Tsunami day.  Not much progress has done as PWA saw the situation here in Kesennuma.  The memory of the people outside of the area is fading, but we are living in this place every day with reality.  Please keep reminding American people that some people are still in hard condition and continuously fighting against the Tsunami.  It will take at least ten years or so.”
                                                                                - Kesennuma disaster survivor March 12th email to PWA

 

Japan Tsunami:  The Year in Review

One year has passed since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku region of northeast Japan.  Over 276,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 20,000 people lost their lives.  Peace Winds America and our sister organization Peace Winds Japan brought immediate relief and recovery to the affected areas.    
               
Three days after the tsunami PWA CEO Charles Aanenson arrived in Japan to help coordinate disaster relief with Peace Winds Japan.  Peace Winds reached over 28,000 disaster survivors at evacuation centers in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures, delivering over 160 tons of supplies. Peace Winds also offered disaster survivors a variety of emergency services, including communications, transportation, and medical visits. 

In April 2011 families began to move from crowded evacuation centers to temporary housing units.  Peace Winds delivered household supplies, including cookware, bedding, and clothes, to ease the transition for 23,000 people in Iwate Prefecture who had lost everything.  In autumn Peace Winds provided heaters to nearly 8,000 families to prepare for a cold winter in poorly insulated temporary houses. 

Peace Winds initiated its recovery partnerships with fishing cooperatives and local Chambers of Commerce in the spring of 2011.  Since then, Peace Winds has helped clear debris from fishing ports, reopened fishing cooperatives and fish markets, supplied fishermen and fish farmers with essential equipment, and restarted Chamber offices and small businesses.  In addition, Peace Winds is supporting education with equipment assistance to the temporary Koyo Maritime High School.  Koyo's former facilities in Kesennuma were destroyed by the tsunami. 

Working with our local partners this past year has greatly strengthened the relief and recovery response of PWA.   Peace Winds America remains committed to the recovery and rebuilding of the Tohoku area and the many who continue to struggle to rebuild their lives.

PWA welcomes the opportunity to express our deepest thanks to all our donors for their commitment to disaster relief and recovery in Japan.  With partners in the U.S. and in Japan, we are making a difference.  

Links:

Mar 11, 2012

Returning to Japan - One Year Later

This is a personal message from Mari Kuraishi, President and Co-Founder of GlobalGiving. Mari, a Japanese national, is preparing to visit Japan following the 1-year anniversary of the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami.

To the generous donors of GlobalGiving's Japan Relief Fund,

As you probably know, today is the one-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. For the last several weeks my colleauges and I have been planning our trip to Japan to visit our project partners in the Tohoku area. Planning for the trip has made us all realize just how much has been accomplished in the recovery efforts since March 11, 2011, and also how much remains to be done. 

As we planned the logistics of our trip, I blithely expected we would be able to get to most places by train, because that's usually a pretty good assumption to make in Japan. But not this time. I assumed that hotels, restaurants, and other services would be operating anywhere we planned to be – but that’s not the case. It took many phone calls to uncover the fact that some trains still aren't even operating and lots of business are still closed in the Tohuku area, and that's when it hit home for me.

A year feels like a long time when you think of all the things accomplished since the great Tohoku/Kanto earthquake and tsunami. But a year is not enough for individual businesses to be rebuilt, for people's lives to be brought back to normal, or even for plants to grow back. 

I'll be going back to Japan in two weeks, both to visit my home and to thank all the amazing Japanese leaders who are still hard at work putting their communities and their country back together again. I’ll be meeting with people like Hatakeyama-san, a fisherman in Kesennuma who used your donations to buy ropes and build rafts to start oyster farming in his area. I'll be speaking with Japanese women from the civil sector about what it means to be Japanese, a woman, and a leader at this make-or-break time in the course of Japanese history. Finally, I’ll be seeing the cherry blossoms – symbols of hope and renewal – as they bloom again in Japan one year after the devastation. 

Each and every one of you has helped in some way. As I meet face-to-face with the people affected by the earthquake, I would be humbled to hand-deliver your messages of support. Will you please share a message of encouragement that I can deliver on your behalf? What questions would you like me to ask of the people who you have helped support? Please share your comments and questions on our Facebook post; I’ll read them, share them with the people I meet, and then I'll send an update when I return from my trip. 

Send a message to Japan

I'd also like to ask you to consider giving again on the 1st anniversary of the disaster in order to help more people like Hatakeyama-san re-establish their livelihoods. We are still actively disbursing your donations to local partners who are helping with long-term rebuilding efforts. 

There’s still a long road ahead for Japan, but we thank you for standing with the Japanese people in hope for renewal and recovery. I look forward to sending another update about your funds after I arrive in Japan. 

Donate

Warmly,
Mari

Mari Kuraishi, President and Founder, GlobalGiving
Mari Kuraishi, President and Founder, GlobalGiving