This year JEN, with our partner organization, Muse Planning (contents available only in Japanese), gave help to single parents who were affected by the Kumamoto earthquake as part of our assistance activities for victims of the earthquake.
The “Single-Parent Chat and Lunch Meetings” were held in Mashiki Town and Higashi-ku, Kumamoto City in March and April, respectively. In these meetings, single parents took the time to talk to each other about their daily lives. A career counselor ran a workshop to give advice on how to get a job.
The participants really appreciated the meetings as exemplified by their comments:
“I was able to talk about my worries and anxieties and get peace of mind as I now realise that everyone is in the same boat”
“It was good that I could get to hear the stories of various people”
“My heart felt lighter when I met people who had similar problems”
Average annual income of single mothers in Kumamoto City has not increased for quite some time and has been stuck at about 1.8 million yen, which is less than half the average wage of the entire Kumamoto Prefecture.
Single fathers earn 2.91 million yen, which is about 70% of the prefecture’s average (according to the Kumamoto prefecture single parent family survey). The earthquake affected areas where already earning a living was not easy.
Kumamoto Prefecture conducted a survey on single parent families in August, four months after the disaster
Regarding the changes in income, only 2% of the people experienced a rise whereas 16.4% experienced a decrease; in particular, as many as 25.3% of the residents experienced a decrease in the Kamimashiki area where the extent of damage was most severe.
The single parent family survey which Muse Planning conducted with the assistance of JEN also clarified that people’s expenditure has increased.
Some people claim that not only did their income decrease but also that they spent their savings quickly because the cost of washing, bathing and eating out dramatically increased, so many face financial hardships.
Other people say that both cleaning-up after the earthquake and evacuation were costly too and that life has become very hard.
With their children at home people also said they had the additional problem of not being able to go to work.
JEN has learned from our assistance experience in the affected areas around the world and in the Tohoku region that after the disaster strikes the situation, rather than getting better, tends to at first get worse.
JEN is determined to continue our assistance activities all over the world by giving the highest priority to the care of people who are most in need.