ProjectRelief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake. Target AreaMiyagi 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.
[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
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[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 fraternityJEN 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.
ProjectRelief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake. Target AreaMiyagi 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.
Relief & Re-establishment activities for those affected by the Tohoku Pacific Area Earthquake
Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages
Activities during May & June 2012
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.
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.
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!
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