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.
Ofunato is a major seaport city in Iwate with about 40,000 people. The terrible tsunami swept and ruined buildings and housings in the town. About 1,800 temporary housings have been built. However, it is often a challenge to build a new community of people from different areas. Imagine staying with whom you don't know or are not familiar with. You would be much stressed.
In order to ensure a healthy and comfortable life to all inhabitants, the local government hired 89 local staff. However, as the governmental function was heavily damaged, there were few people who could manage such a large number of staff effectively.
Mr. Hiroto Kikuchi, a nonprofit leader in Iwate, started a project to manage communities of temporary housings, in partnership with the local government and various support organizations. And, in the late of September, Mr. Yoshitaka Narita, who had worked as a manager of an IT company, joined in the project as a Fellow to support Mr. Kikuchi.
With his experiences in corporate planning, project management, human resources management, etc., Mr. Narita has been supervising local staff hired by the government’s budget so that they can address various issues in temporary housing communities. Mr. Kikuchi said, “Thanks to his contribution, I became able to secure my time for other important works.”
Mr. Narita believes it is important for the local people themselves to discuss and rethink how to they rebuild their own community. “In partnership with the local government, we will promote such kind of resident participation in the recovery,” he added.
Minami-Sanriku, a small town devastated by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, is famous for its octopus fishing. In 2009, its tourist office started to produce and sell a good-luck charm in the shape of octopus, which has become very popular especially among entrance exam-takers. The pronunciation of the word “Octopus” sounds like, “Okuto-pasu” which means “place and you will pass” in Japanese.
After the earthquake, in order to create jobs for affected people, some local volunteers launched a project to restart production and sales of the octopus charm as the symbol for recovery.
In September 2011, Ms. Murai joined the project as a Fellow. Using her years of experience in a fair trade company and in a major travel agency, she has been in charge of sales channel development, product management, and online sales promotion and marketing.
Mr. Abe, the leader of the project, said, “She has played an important role in the project. She always empowers and motivates co-workers while making a large contribution to the sales.”
Ms. Murai said, “The goal of our project is to revitalize Minami-Sanriku, where all residents will be able to have a hope for future, while creating jobs for them. I think that my main role is to provide local people with a place where they can work vigorously and creatively.”
She added, "The town is now facing a population outflow. What I can do is really a small thing, but I will continue thinking about a vision for the future with local people. I believe there are lots of hints for Tohoku and Japan’s recovery.”
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