Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan(AAR Japan) is a Non-Governmental Organization ( NGO ) aiming to provide emergency assistance, assistance to people with disabilities, and mine action, among other operations. It was established in 1979 as an organization with no political, ideological, or religious affiliation. AAR currently has offices in 10 countries.
Sep 7, 2016

Thank you for your support

Almost three months have passed since a strong earthquake shook Kumamoto prefecture. The quake has a recorded magnitude 7.0 on 14th April and another one which is almost the same level occurred two days later. At least 75 people were killed and 3,000 others were injured. There were more than 180,000 evacuees at the peak and 155,066 buildings and houses were destroyed (10th July, 2016).

In response, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) dispatched an emergency response team consisting of four staff members. They started serving meals at a makeshift soup kitchen on 15th April at Iino primary school in Mashiki town in collaboration with the Peace Project, a Japanese NPO.

With the help of local authorities, the AAR Japan team carefully selected the soup kitchen venues that were closest to the most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and persons with disabilities, among the survivors.

Throughout the duration of the project, the Team conducted a total of 44 soup kitchens and distributed 18,710 hot meals. The Team provided a variety of meals such as curry, Yakisoba (fried noodles) and so on. The meals were distributed not only to evacuees at the evacuation center but also to people who live near the center. This is because it took for long time to recover gas and water. Some people formed line with pots to bring meals to their family members.

The meals were also delivered to welfare facilities where many were evacuated. Almost nobody could prepare enough food for everyone as these facilities were not designed to be temporary evacuation centers and their capabilities to accommodate the earthquake survivors are limited.

AAR Japan also distributed non-food items, with a focus on helping the elderly and persons with disabilities by providing sanitary items, water and other materials based on individual needs. AAR Japan also provided wheelchairs to one of the facilities for swift transportation of elderly people.

Once facilities for PWDs returned to their daily operation, the concern of the cracked buildings and damaged equipment became a major issue. Facilities in affected area called upon AAR Japan for support because the government subsidies for building repairs was limited. AAR Japan provided machines and equipment for one of the facilities where persons with disabilities make a living by making and selling hand-crafts, bento box and baked goods.

This was made possible by your support through Global Giving. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your warm support. AAR Japan will continue to support people who began new life in temporally housing units in addition to support to the facilities for people with disabilities.

Aug 22, 2016

Visit in Fukushima with Grateful Crane Ensemble

  It’s been five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, which caused multi-dimensional human catastrophes in the aftermath of tsunami, meltdown at nuclear power plant, and expansive radioactive contamination. Reconstruction/decontamination efforts have made progress while the majority of affected populations have long been displaced away from their home towns. For some, time has elapsed without any future prospect in sight.

  There still remain more than 150, 000 people in displacement today. The populations are predominantly elderly who were particularly vulnerable within the context of disaster recovery. Through the past half a decade, many have moved out of disaster relief temporary housings. A part of undeniable consequences of this was the fragmentation of families and communities that once held solid ties. Prior to the disaster, one family from grandparents to their grandchildren lived together under the same roof. Their communities were also close-knit that acted as a support system for everyone. Today, forced displacement that seemed indefinite has made many young families move away from their hometowns to seek a safer environment to raise their children. On the other hand, many grandparents decided to stay in hopes of going back home once the evacuation order is lifted. Nonetheless, many communities in the affected areas are on the verge of falling apart. It is evident in that less than a half of the original populations would make a decision to go back to their hometowns after the government announces the end of evacuation.

  Against this backdrop, AAR Japan is committed to keeping the communities together and attending to every person’s need in the final phase of disaster recovery. In cooperation with entertainers from home and abroad, we organize recreational events through which they often feel a strong connection to their homeland and culture.

  This past month, AAR Japan coordinated a self-funded Goodwill tour of the Grateful Crane Ensemble which is a non-profit theatrical company of Japanese Americans based in Los Angeles, the United States. In the spirit of reaffirming support and love for people in Tohoku in the midst of prolonged recovery from the disaster, we toured around four temporary housing facilities in Fukushima city, Soma city, Kawamata town and Nihonmatsu city through June 18 to 20. The group performed a repertoire of old Japanese pop songs, which symbolize for both performers and audiences pride and appreciation for the ancestral linage rooted in Japan such as “Like the Flow of the River”(),”Ringo Oiwake”(), “Kitaguni no Haru” (), “Sukiyaki song” (),”Furusato” () and so many more.Their singing inspired nostalgia and love for their homeland, and hope for the future. Many residents among the audiences had not had a chance to take part in live performances, let alone recreational activities. Many broke into tears. Many smiled. Many laughed. Many sang along. A small makeshift assembly room that stands in the middle of temporary housing facilities that are now half empty was filled with so much warmth and love. The audience in Kawamata town in particular was exceptionally ecstatic. They requested an encore after the performance was done.

   “I am very thankful for these people who came all the way from the United States just for us. I did not know the Japanese singer Misora Hibari was famous in the States,” said the woman in Soma city. A male participant in Kawamata town also said “we can’t communicate our thoughts to each other but our hearts became connected. I feel very close to them. I feel happy and supported. It’s a strange feeling but in a positive sense.” One of the members of the Grateful Crane Ensemble expressed to us that “I was thrown into shock at the sight of so many elderly residents who are still living in temporary living facilities. I was welling up while singing because I was able to feel and understand what they were going through. I cried because they cried. I was happy because they were happy. I want to continue to support these people even after I go back to Los Angeles.”

  AAR Japan places an important value on sending out message from Tohoku to let people in other countries know that the struggle still continues for those who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. We will not let these people be left behind. We will continue to stand by them.   

Jun 3, 2016

Kumamoto Earthquakes Response Report

Since April 15, the day after the earthquakes rocked Kumamoto prefecture, AAR Japan’s emergency response team collaborated with The Peace Project (an NPO represented by AAR Japan’s board member Ben Kato) to operate soup kitchens. As of May 8, the organizations conducted 34 soup kitchens and distributed 17,730 meals with plenty of vegetables such as pot-au-feu and tonjiru (pork and vegetable soup) for a healthy dietary life of survivors.

A 30’s-year-old lady at evacuation center of Ino primary school told that “I feel happy by eating warm meals even though my house is in terrible situation after the earthquake.

On April 27, the team delivered futons to Ayumi which is a support center for elderly people. After the quakes, Ayumi was overflown with the elderly users were forced to sleep on the floor. Out of fear for unpredictable aftershocks, they took shelter at the center.   

By May 8, AAR Japan delivered aid to five evacuation centers in Kumamoto-city, Aso-city, Mashiki-town and Nishihara village and to eleven facilities for people with disabilities or for elderly people.

As needs change over time, AAR will continue to deliver timely and appropriate aid to affected areas. AAR will also continue to assess ways to deliver aid to persons that are least likely to receive aid, such as the elderly and PWDs.

 
   

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