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.
Dec 2, 2013

To Make Her Dream Come True- Story of Jennifer

Jennifer strongly hopes to learn at high school
Jennifer strongly hopes to learn at high school

Thank you for your kind support to the project ‘Zambia: Support For Schooling of HIV/AIDS Orphans’. In the following report, we would like to share the story of Jennifer, one of the most zealous students we are supporting.

Jennifer, 17, is a 9th grade girl who goes to Roma Girls Secondary School located in Ng’ombe Compound in Lusaka. Her mother died of AIDS just after she gave birth to Jennifer. Her father, Richard, works as a chicken buyer at a market, but his income is not enough to send his daughter to school. AAR Japan has long been supporting the schooling of Jennifer since she was a 1st grader in 2005. She behaves well and works hard at school and at home, having served as a school prefect a couple of times and having been on the top list as for the academic performance. When she was a 7th grader, she got a high score of 807 out of 1000, far beyond the average of 500 at the national examination, which made her qualified to enter Roma Girls Secondary School that is known for its quality education among the community. Even after she entered that school, she did not slow her pace. After all classes are finished, she remains in a classroom and study by herself until 4p.m. every day since it is difficult for her to study at home, once returning home from school, she has to prepare supper for her family and look after her young half-brother and half-sister. Jennifer says she wants to be a doctor in the future because she lost her mother to AIDS and witnessed many sick people in her community such as her mother’s elder sister suffering from high blood pressure.

 Jennifer is frugal with words but her determination toward her dream is genuinely solid. She strongly hopes to enter good high school, receive quality education and be permitted to a medical school. In Zambia, all 9th graders take a national examination at the end of the year, of which results decide whether one can continuehigher educationor not. Jennifer is trying her best toward the exam in order to make her dream come true.

Jennifer is proud of attending her school
Jennifer is proud of attending her school
Nov 22, 2013

5th Folk Music Concert Tour Held at Temporary Housing Complex in Fukushima Prefecture

Mr. Suzuki (singer, right) and the audience (left)
Mr. Suzuki (singer, right) and the audience (left)

From October 23rd to 25th, we held the fifth folk song concert tour at 11 venues in Koriyama City, Katsurao Village, Motomiya City and Nihonmatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture featuring the popular comedian Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA and the folk music team called ‘Minyo-jin’. Same as the previous tours, every venue was packed with the audience with excited and throbbing expression.

The concert started with the smooth lead of Mr. Nekohachi, who is famous for his performance of mimicking animals. Led by the dynamic intro of Shamisen (traditional Japanese string instrument), the singers’ powerful and penetrating voices pleasantly filled the venue. First, each performer sung his/her specialty, and then the performers took requests from the audience. Not only the Fukushima-originated folk songs such as ‘Aizu Bandaisan’ and ‘Soma Nagareyama’ thrilled the audience, the songs rooted in Tohoku area such as ‘Sado Okesa’ and ‘Tsugaru Aiya Bushi’ also moved some of the audience to tears since these songs invoked the memory of their family members. In the finale, ‘Soma Bon-uta’, one of the standard pieces among Fukushima people, was performed and the audience truly enjoyed clapping, swinging, singing along and dancing. The highlight of the concert was the part in which Mr. Nekohachi and Ms. Keiko CHIDA together performed four songs in which names of animals appear in lyrics. In the interval of the beautiful singing performance of Ms. CHIDA, Mr. Nekohachi mimicked the voice of animals such as cows and bush warblers comically but to the life, which filled the venue with roaring laughter. 

Here are some remarks we received from the audience. 

A lady who participated in the concert at Odagaisama Center on October 23rd

‘I stayed with my daughter, who lived outside Fukushima Prefecture for three months right after the earthquake before moving to this Miharu Temporary Housing Complex. I am getting used to the life here and I enjoy doing handicraft such as knitting with other residents. I had the knitting session today too, but I wrapped up earlier to get a good seat at the concert! Usually I am not that interested in concerts but if it is folk music, that is different. I laughed a lot for the first time in a long time. The winter here is much colder than Hamadori, where I used to live and the heat in summer is also tough, but I am getting used to and trying to cheer up.’ 

Ms. Konno, aged 63, participated in the concert at Takagi Temporary Housing Complex on October 25th

‘The concert was great! It all cleared the wretched feeling I had been feeling these days. The song I requested, ‘Kabenuri Jinku’, is the song of my memories. I should have brought my husband too.’ She was originally from Chiba Prefecture in Kanto area and moved to Namie Town when she got married. She told us that she enjoyed working on handicraft with the other residents in her free time and she also expressed her wish to let people all over Japan know how the residents were trying to move forward.

The audience laughing aloud
The audience laughing aloud
The audience requesting their favorite songs
The audience requesting their favorite songs
AAR staff member (right) interviewing the audience
AAR staff member (right) interviewing the audience
The audience clapping to the song
The audience clapping to the song
Group shot at Takagi Temporary Housing Complex
Group shot at Takagi Temporary Housing Complex
Oct 25, 2013

Radiation Dosimeter Installed at Elle Shirakawa Wakuwaku Bread Factory, a Workshop Facility for PWDs

A set of radiation dosimeter installed
A set of radiation dosimeter installed

Concern over radiation exposure triggered by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is widely shared among the residents of Fukushima Prefecture. They live with constant fear of internal and external exposure to radiation. Consumers are careful about what they purchase and consume and at the same time, suppliers are required to take extra care in assuring the safety of what they produce. As a result, in Fukushima Prefecture more and more institutions that deal with food have chosen to have themselves equipped with radiation dosimeters for food items. Those who cannot afford purchasing the device have to go to public institutions to examine their products and ingredients they use, which put extra logistical burden on them. This is why AAR Japan has decided to provide radiation dosimeter to several workshop facilities for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) including Elle Shirakawa Wakuwaku Bread Factory as a part of its support to PWDs affected by the 3.11 disaster.

Elle Shirakawa Wakuwaku Bread Factory provides vocational training and working opportunities to PWDs, mainly those with intellectual disabilities. The facility users are engaged in baking and selling of bread as a part of their way of participation to the society. They produce as much as 20 kinds of bread that are sold at various places such as shopping center, supermarket and kiosks around Shirakawa Station in Shirakawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. In order to ensure the safety of their products, the bread factory had been procuring only ingredients that were labeled to have low level of radiation, since the facility was not capable of carrying out safety examination on its own. With the set of radiation dosimeter provided by AAR Japan in August 2013, the facility is now able to measure the radiation level of the ingredients they purchased and also of their own products, which enables them to guarantee the safety of what they produce. The neighboring households also bring in vegetables and fruits they purchase, instead of going far to examine the safety of food. Since the factory is planning to open a new facility for PWDs which deals with dried sweet potatoes next year, the radiation dosimeter installed will continue to be a useful device for the facility. 

Facility users baking bread
Facility users baking bread
Mr. Suganuma(right) representative of the facility
Mr. Suganuma(right) representative of the facility
 
   

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