Feb 28, 2013

Ishinomaki project 2013

IsraAID is collaborating with Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund to set up a community center inIshinomaki, Japan.

The community space will be used to facilitate the on-going activities of supporting Ishinomaki's residents. It will allow IsraAID as well as other NPOs, to continue to have an impact on the local communities.

 Here are some of IsraAID's programs that will take place in the center:·

PTSD Prevention 

The community center will host stress relief activities for Temporary housing residents as well as children and mothers group from Ishinomaki on a weekly basis,conducted by local NGO's, Community leaders and IsraAid therapists. Furthermore,the center can be used for training people to become effective therapists.·

Voices of Tohoku 

Voices of Tohoku is a unique program aimed to produce an oral and visual history of interviews that will commemorate and honor the memory of the communities that experiences the disaster. The community center will serve as a location forconducting training for interviewers, filming interviews, and also as an exhibitgallery where the video archive will be displayed to visitors.·

Youth Leadership Program

We will provide professional leadership training and education programs to empower young individuals and promote economic rehabilitation in their local communities. These training sessions will be held at the community center, and the center can also be used as a hub for business collaborations, exchanging of ideas,and a place that will gather people for discussion.

About The Taylor Anderson Memorial Gift Fund

The fund commemorates an English teacher whose life was taken by the Tsunami in 2011. The purpose of the fund is to help students, schools and families in the Ishinomaki area recover from the earthquake and tsunami and to pursue Taylor’s dream of being a bridge between the U.S. andJapan.

Feb 19, 2013

Progress Report

behind the scenes of an interview
behind the scenes of an interview

Background of the Project

On March 11th 2011, Japan was hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes (9.0 Richter scale) ever recorded in history. Following the earthquake, Tsunami waves over 40.5 meters high (133ft) devastated Japan's eastern coast, damaging more than 500,000 buildings, and leaving 21,000 dead and 250,000 homeless in its wake.


For the survivors of this tragedy, life will never be the same. Seeing homes and livelihood completely destroyed, and losing friends and loved ones in front of their very eyes, the survivors of the Tsunami experienced a horrific event that that shook the foundations of their existence. Even from the beginning of IsraAID's mission to Japan, we found that the survivors felt a strong need to share stories of their experiences and events. Reliving the effect of the tragedy is challenging, and it seems the weight of the experience and trauma was so heavy for the survivors that they felt a need to tell someone about it, or to 'let it out'. IsraAID believes that creating a space and platform for people to share their personal experiences is a fundamental part of the healing process of these survivors. In addition to its therapeutic importance, documentation of these stories preserves the collective memory of the community that was changed in the disaster.

 

Voices of Tohoku

September 2012

In early September, IsraAID conducted a seminar for Japanese professors from various Universities and institutions (Tokyo University, Meiji Gakuin University, Akita, Dipex, World Health Organization). In this seminar, the main focus was on interviewing theory—how to approach interviewees and speak to them in effective ways. This seminar was conducted by Professor Amia Lieblich, an oral history expert who has conducted interviews for personal archive projects with Holocaust survivors, Tibetan refugees in India and others. After the seminar, the program moved to Tohoku, where 20 community leaders from Yamamoto-Cho, Watari-Cho and Sendai went through 5-day extensive interview training. During these five days, the group of interviewers learned video interviewing techniques and conducted mock interviews to prepare them for real interviews. During this time, photographer Alex Levac arrived for two weeks and with the help of local municipality and community leaders, gathered photos of places and activities that represent the spirit of the towns of Watari and Yamamoto.

 

 

October 2012 – March 2013

 After the interviewers were trained, an IsraAID project coordinator made a schedule for interviews. Local community leaders started conducting interviews first with top ranking officials in local municipality and then with other local groups and documented a wide perspective of the community story. While interviews were only administered to those who wished to share their story, we were able to gather valuable stories from interesting people such as teachers who ran the evacuation shelters, firemen who had saved lives, and people who had lived in the most affected areas.  Each interviewee was required to sign a release form that gives them the option to either allow IsraAID to use all of the materials freely or to limit the use of their personal testimony. Roughly 95% of participants agreed for their testimony to be open to the public. As of February 2013, IsraAID has gathered over 75, 60-90 min testimonies from the towns of Watari and Yamamoto, which currently is considered among the largest video documentation made to date in Tohoku. This large number of interviews was made do to IsraAId strong trust with the local communities,  We received full support from local municipality and our work has gained a positive momentum in the community.

 

 

Future Plans

 

On March 8th  2013 we will hold an academic event for professors from various Japanese Universities on Oral History Research based on the stories from Tohoku.

Also we will launch our community books and honor our local partners at a ceremony.

Following we will begin delivering the participants from Tohoku a package that will include each personal interview on DVD along side with the community book.

In addition we will launch local archives in the Towns of Watari and Yamamoto so that residents will have access to the videos produced by Voices of Tohoku project.

The local municipality will copy our digital files so that data will remain stored for the future.

Local Municipality will also hold a screening event for the local residents.

 

 

Since the start of the “Voices of Tohoku” project in early September 2012, the scale of the project has grown dramatically and awareness of the project has further increased interest in the Tohoku region and in the academic communities around Japan, and it allowed IsraAID to partner with academic institutions such as Meiji Gakuin and University of Tokyo and others so to expand the program into additional towns and within the towns we currently work. 

interview with teacher in Watari-Cho
interview with teacher in Watari-Cho
interview with elderly man Watari-Cho
interview with elderly man Watari-Cho
couple interview in Yamamoto-Cho
couple interview in Yamamoto-Cho
interview with mayor of Watari-Cho
interview with mayor of Watari-Cho
interview with resident of Yamamoto-Cho
interview with resident of Yamamoto-Cho
Dec 26, 2012

Summary of activities 2012 and plan for 2013

Training for youth group in Sendai
Training for youth group in Sendai

Project Background

Since the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, the unemployment rate in the Tohoku region has skyrocketed. The main industries of the region - fishing & agriculture - have been devastated, putting the future of hundreds of thousands in jeopardy. Of specific concern has been the rising unemployment of youth who must now re-invent their future. 

Through meetings with local officials, community center staff, volunteers, and the community itself, the lack of support and training in the fields of youth leadership and social development has been explicitly identified as a major drawback to communities' stability and growth.

IsraAID believes that providing youth with professional guidance, support, and empowerment is the key to the economic rehabilitation of Tohoku. Consequently, the organization seeks to develop a program that links youth from Tohoku with successful companies and social activism.
The program will combine capacity-building and professional internships to provide valuable skills in social leadership, group dynamics, entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.

 

Youth Leadership

IsraAID is currently broadening its involvement in Japan by providing professional training and custom-tailored education programs which strive to empower young individuals to promote economic rehabilitation in Tohoku's stricken communities. The programs combine self-development and leadership training with business entrepreneurship and vocational skills. The leadership trainings are designed to encourage the youth to become socially active and serve as a mobilizing force within their fragile and distressed communities, while the entre-preneurship and vocational skills trainings aim to inspire the local youth to consider their future professional careers in Tohoku.

IsraAID is collaborating with other organizations that are able to accommodate Tohoku communities' need for professional education and training. We believe that major businesses in Japan can use IsraAID's local knowledge and relationship with the communities in order to convey their specific know-how while enhancing their reach and contributing to the rebuilding efforts within IsraAID's youth leadership program. By cooperating with IsraAID’s project, these companies are given the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the communities they operate in, and participate in creating a future vision, based on their organization's values. 

Accordingly, in August 2012 IsraAID successfully completed a pilot program in collaboration with Hilton Tokyo. A group of ten high schools students from different areas in Tohoku participated in 6 days of intensive training during which they received both skills and job training by Hilton staff, as well as group building activities, creative thinking, innovation and leadership training by IsraAID. The Summer Internship was designed to empower the youth from Tohoku to take responsibility for their futures as individuals and as a community, and through job and skills training at the Hilton Tokyo, the students were introduced to a variety of possible careers for their future.

September- December 2012 IsraAid conducted 2 leadership workshops for youth groups in Sendai and Shinchi in Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture.

The theme of the workshops was community volunteerism and creative thinking.

In Addition IsraAid's  youth group in Sendai received a workshop about how to use photography for social change conducted by Mr. Alex Levac- Israel award winning photographer.

 

Future Plans

The summer pilot of the vocational skills & leadership training at the Hilton Tokyo was also appreciated by Hilton Worldwide that granted the Tokyo hotel with the "Bright future Hilton award". Following the great success of the summer pilot, next year IsraAID will proceed and coordinate 4 more similar seminars for youth from Tohoku. The next training will take place on the coming January 2013, on which IsraAID will collaborate with Hilton Tokyo and ADRA Japan in providing training for youth from Koriyama in Fukushima.

The leadership training part of the program had been developed and will include leadership training not only for the students participating but also for their teachers. The teachers will learn about the meaning and importance of social leadership and be provided with set of tools that they can use to empower their students for action. Moreover, the 5 days of intensive training in the Hilton will be followed by 3 months of weekly trainings in Fukushima for the youth in their high school. During the program the students will be guided on how to plan a community event  which they will conduct themselves at the end of the program. 

Training for youth group in Sendai 2
Training for youth group in Sendai 2
 
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