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.
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.
Thanks to the tremendous contribution from donors to the “Support High School Students in Tohoku” project, AMDA has finished awarding the first year’s grants to 84 students from 5 high schools, 1 unified lower and secondary school and 1 vocational technical school in Tohoku. Each student receives 15,000 yen / month (180,000 yen/year) with no repayment obligation until she/he graduates high school. Your donations through GlobalGivng site have definitely contributed towards funding these grants.
At the time of this report, it is worth noting that the beneficiaries included students at a school for North Korean residents. Even though this school’s main building was badly damaged, the school opened its dormitory to the elderly in the neighborhood and dispatched food and emergency supplies to evacuation shelters. AMDA thought the school’s efforts deserved recognition and support, especially considering that schools for foreign residents are not treated equally by the School Education Act of Japan and do not qualify to receive state subsidies even in times of disaster.
To respect the privacy of the beneficiaries, we cannot carry photographs related to this project. We hope you'll see what we have done from the table below, and from some letters from the students themselves.
<Some letters AMDA received from the recipients (Originally in Japanese)>
“What I can do for Takata city” (3rd grade)
Becoming a medical doctor is my long-held dream. In the earthquake and tsunami last March, I lost the house where I was raised, my mother, grandparents, cousins, best friends and many other people important to me. In the aftermath, I was totally at a loss, not knowing what to do next, and nearly gave up my hope of becoming a doctor. However, as I watched my hometown, Rikuzen Takata city, gradually being restored, a strong feeling started to grow within me that I truly want to come back to Takata after becoming a doctor, and contribute to the rehabilitation of my home town. Once again I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a medical doctor. In the future, I want to become a doctor with an extensive knowledge and be able to find and treat the roots of people’s illnesses, and also provide them with psychological care. The psychological trauma caused by the earthquake and tsunami will not be easily treated, even after the city is restored to its former state. As I can understand such feelings of the local people, I sincerely wish to become a doctor and work for my hometown, Takata city.
“My dream for the future” (1st grade)
I want to be a medical doctor in the future, because I want to help people suffering from disease. Becoming a doctor had been my hope for a long time, and this was made stronger by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Tohoku. I was much impressed to see medical teams come from distant cities, visiting evacuation shelters, giving counsel to a lot of people, dashing to sick people and giving treatment. I wanted to become a doctor like them. The shortage of doctors is a grave issue. In Ofunato city, where I live, it has grown into a serious problem. Therefore I want to become a doctor and do my best to contribute to the enhancement of my hometown. I know that doctors have the great responsibility of having people’s life in their hands. To be able to engage in such an important profession, I am determined to study hard, taking a broad view of my life.
“If I become a doctor in the future..” (1st grade)
I wish to be a medical doctor in the future. I had been interested in becoming a doctor, but I made up my mind because of the earthquake and tsunami. If I become a doctor in the future, I will help people who are suffering and hurt in both body and spirit. (snip) The huge tsunami destroyed my house completely, and my parents and grandparents have much less income than before. Even so, I don’t want to give up my dream. If I could receive a grant from AMDA, I would be able to lessen the financial burden to my family. I know that it will be extremely difficult to become a doctor, but I will do my best every day, improving myself, and make my dream come true.
Since the “Support High School Students in Tohoku” project started in April, AMDA has received generous donations through the GlobalGiving’s site and from some major donors in Japan. As of July 2011, the total amount contributed to this project surpassed the original plan. Therefore, we expanded the number of beneficiaries of the scholarship from 15 students to 25, and started paying the grant at the end of September 2011.
From now on, AMDA will continue this project for three years, until March 2014 when the current first-year students graduate. If we receive more donations, we will add more students on the list of beneficiaries. Therefore, this project will be open to supporters until March 2014.
The content of the project will remain the same as before: Granting \15,000 per month per a student who aspires to become a medical professional, with no obligation of refunding. AMDA chooses the high schools who will select the recipients of the scholarships by discussions with its supporters and people in the affected region, the selection of beneficiaries being left up to each high school's discretion. Your donations will be also used for such purposes as sports exchange and music exchange programs for young people in the affected region, so they can mix with young people in other regions of the country, and to encourage them to persevere in this difficult time.
Due to the confidentiality obligation to the schools and students, we cannot disclose any personal information of the beneficiaries or their photographs. It is our pleasure, though, to present some letters of thanks from those who received the grant, and photographs of the soccer exchange programme held in August 2011. AMDA held a soccer exchange programme in Okayama city, where its HQ is, in August 2011, inviting soccer club members of junior high schools from Tohoku and Okayama. Children from Tohoku wrote to AMDA: “Thank you! I enjoyed playing soccer again!” “I made a lot of friends in Okayama. This will be my lifelong memory!” (Photographs have no association with the letters.)
AMDA, as a medical NGO, has set up a three-year plan to support people in Tohoku by, for example, sending medical volunteers to hospitals in the affected towns. We would like to update you with these projects soon.
Some letters of thanks from the beneficiaries of the scholarship:
A new life (3rd year student)
If the tsunami hadn’t come I would have been leading a normal life up until now. By “normal” I mean I would have been continuing my studies like normal. Instead, I find myself in a completely different environment. A new lifestyle has started. At a time when the tools for studying were in short supply, I was thrilled at the opportunity to receive a scholarship. Since receiving that money, life has been renewed. I have taken on my studies, club activities, and chores with a new spirit because now I will be continuing my studies at college. This scholarship has really helped me, not just for daily living but emotionally as well. For the sake of those who have graciously supported me, I will pursue my studies seriously. Meanwhile, I want to become a well-rounded person, so club activities will enhance my time-management skills to balance with my studies. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Now I can look to the future and work towards achieving my dream.
The scholarship for my future dream and hopes (1st year student)
After I lost my home due to the tsunami and earthquake, I lived in a refugee shelter for about two months. Older members of my town were faced with a difficult problem as a lot of the medicine they took was carried away by the tsunami. Even though my town is small, a medical team from another region came to support us and provided consultations and diagnoses. After I saw this I thought how I wanted to become a doctor and repay this favor to many people. However, since going to medical school requires a lot of money, this scholarship will go to one part of the tuition. I will never forget the acts people have done to help me. So I will get my credentials as quickly as possible so I can begin working as a doctor and start giving back.
Reason I applied and future goals (1st year student)
When I was four, my father passed away suddenly. Since then different people have been helping my family as I’ve grown up. Then it came time for the high school entrance exam. I had planned to work very hard as I looked forward to my own path and goals I had set when the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake occurred. But I knew scholarships like this existed. Both my older sister and brother have received other scholarships and are currently following their plans on their own respective paths. I would also like to lessen the burden for my mother. Up until now, I’ve been fortunate to have people helping me, so in the future I would like to have a job that helps others. Since I would like a job that deals with people, I am aiming to become a nurse. After this earthquake disaster, people are experiencing a lot of different emotions, and I want to work hard in such a way to help others and work to return my home town to its former vitality.
My dream and goals (3rd year student)
My home was completely destroyed by the tsunami following the earthquake that occurred on March 11th. Sentimental items, textbooks, workbooks, everything disappeared as they were carried out to sea. Afterwards, I was at a loss of what to do. For a while, I lived in a gymnasium in Kamaishi. I remember the time AMDA sent a medical team to the refugee shelter to provide relief for senior citizens and children. Also, the two times I became ill from a fever, they came to where I was to diagnose me. Thanks to the relief AMDA provided I have hope again. In the future, I absolutely plan on becoming a nurse. This experience has instilled a strong will in me. I feel I want a job that will work with a medical team to restore hope and relief to the people we see. In the future I want to become a nurse and become a person that can give back. And for that purpose I continue studying hard. Thank you very much for your time.
The success of receiving a scholarship (3rd year student)
After the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, my home was almost totally destroyed and I even lost both my parents. I saw my mother's body, but my father is still unaccounted for. Before the earthquake, I was concerned about the path I would follow for my future. Do I pick the thing I like to do or become a pharmacist? After the earthquake experience, I want to help people and have decided to work on becoming a pharmacist. Now thanks to the support of my grandparents, my siblings and I have started going to school again. Still, a lot of people have given me support and I don’t want to be a burden to them. So I would like to repay their kindness and so I have applied for this scholarship. Before my mother would say to work as hard as you can to continue down one’s chosen path. So I continue my studies and use this past experience as an added incentive in order to fulfill my mother’s wish. From here on I will work as hard as I can in order to make full use of the support everyone has graciously given me. For this support, I thank you very much.
As AMDA's scholarship program in the disaster area has taken off, there has been a range of additional programs established in helping the young people to persevere this difficult time.
In summer, a joint sports exchange program will be held in Soja City, Okayama, Japan. Not only does it deepen the friendship and understanding between the students from afflicted sites and Soja City, the event uses soccer as a means of psychological care for the quake victims as well. The program replicates the successful example of the sports exchange program held for Haitian Earthquake victims in 2010, the event which garnered children from Haiti, Dominican Republic and Japan.
Recently UN Development Programme has been focusing on advocacy and partnership-building, using sports to promote development and peace, and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In line with its philosophy AMDA hopes to set a benchmark for this kind of initiatives, pursing the role of sports in the realm of disaster rehabilitation.
AMDA will join hands with various donors, supporters and its chapters around the world to launch a range of programs for the disaster victims, not transiently but sustainably, to recoup the prosperous daily lives of the people in the afflicted regions.
Please check the following website for more updated information on our activities
AMDA’s principle is Sogo Fujo, a Japanese traditional value meaning a cycle of reciprocating assistance. I hope the students receiving this grant will be at the other end of assistance in the future. - Dr. Shigeru Suganami, Dr., PhD., President of AMDA
Total Funding Received to Date: $3,399Remaining Goal to be Funded: $56,601Total Funding Goal: $60,000
AMDA's home page (Japanese/English/French)
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