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.
Jul 30, 2013

Pavement work done at 'Tamura Kibo no Sato'

The ground before the pavement construction
The ground before the pavement construction

On June 24th 2013, AAR Japan staff member Masayuki OKADA visited 'Tamura Kibo no Sato', a facility for Persons with Disabilities where we have recently completed concrete pavement work of the ground. Although the construction initially aimed at reducing the risk of radiation exposure by removing contaminated pebbles that covered the ground, it also helped the facility users in wheelchairs to move freely across the property of the facility.

About Tamura Kibo no Sato

Tamura Kibo no Sato is a workshop located in Tamura City, Fukushima Prefecture. It provides job training to approximately 20 persons with mental and physical disabilities and the workshop users are engaged in various work commissioned by companies inside or outside Fukushima Prefecture including folding and bagging of clothes, producing artificial flowers and boxing of gardening kits, etc. The users enjoy working diligently every day, which provides them with opportunity to further participate in the society. Some of the users live in the group home ‘Yu no Sato’ which is located in the same property as the workshop.

Why pavement construction?

The facility is located in the mountainous area approximately 50km away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The mountainous area is said to be exposed to higher risk of radiation since the radioactive materials can be condensed through the ecological circulation system, hence the facility, of which backyard closely looks onto the mountain, has been very concerned over the risk of radiation exposure. Previously the ground of the property was covered with pebbles but those pebbles became contaminated by radiation following the accident at the nuclear power plant. The facility wished to remove all the contaminated pebbles and pave the ground with concrete rather than replacing the old pebbles with new ones, considering that the newly replaced pebbles will again accumulate a large amount of radiation due to its uneven surface. Thus, we decided to carry out the paving work, which completed in May 2013. This enabled the facility users to concentrate on their job training feeling less worried about radiation exposure. In addition, the paving work also brought another benefit to the facility- the facility users in wheelchair used to have trouble in moving on the pebbled ground which also had level differences and ditches. In response to this situation, the pavement construction was completed in the way to ensure eliminating these barriers. The facility is now prepared to provide better working and living environment, in which the wheelchair users can be more active and independent.

The smooth ground after the pavement construction
The smooth ground after the pavement construction
No step at the entrance after the paving work
No step at the entrance after the paving work
The facility user folds and bags the clothes
The facility user folds and bags the clothes
Artificial flowers made by the facility users
Artificial flowers made by the facility users
Jul 9, 2013

Cheering people up with the power of entertainment

Participants enjoying folk songs
Participants enjoying folk songs

From 17th to 19th June, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) organized the tour of concert events held at community spaces in temporary housing complexes in Fukushima Prefecture. The popular entertainer Nekohachi EDOYA and 6 folk singers and musicians entertained the evacuees living in the temporary housing complexes, making them laugh from the bottom of their heart.

The tour was scheduled to cover 10 venues in just 3 days and the total number of the audience for 10 concerts amounted to 402 people. Many of them were elderly people living in the temporary housing complexes, who are unable to return home due to the concern over radiation exposure caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Led by the cheerful, fun and smooth MC by Mr. Nekohachi, who is well known for his performance of mimicking animals, the event began with the vigorous session of tsugaru shamisen (traditional Japanese string instrument). The audience then enjoyed powerful folk songs performed by 3 folk singers including Mr. Masao Suzuki, who was originally from Soma City of Fukushima Prefecture. Needless to say, Mr. Nekohachi’s performance of mimicking a bush warbler was very popular among the audience, making them laugh heartily and helping them forget the stress from their daily lives. In the latter part of the event, the performers answered the requests from the audience and sung several local folk songs originated from the area, which moved many of the audience to tears with nostalgic feelings. At the finale of the event, ‘Soma Bonka’ was performed. As soon as the song began, the audience voluntarily stood up one after another and started dancing making a big circle. Soma Bonka is a song that reminds people of a sense of unity among the community- it used to be played at ‘Bon dance festival’, a Japanese seasonal festival usually held by local communities. After the communities in Soma area were broken apart as the disaster survivors evacuated and were dispersed to different temporary housing complexes, they had few chances for community gathering and greatly missed it. The audience danced lightly and cheerfully as if they were back in the old days. 

After the event, many of the audience gave remarks that they felt so brightened up, which had not happened for a while. There used to be many of such events in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake but the number significantly decreases after two years have passed since the disaster. Here are some remarks from the audience.   

‘This is my first time to attend such a fun event. Many people lost their lives because of the tsunami in this area and I myself was drawn as well. I am feeling better day by day but I’ve never had such a cheerful feeling.’ - A woman aged 62, who participated in the event at the community space at Gongenzawa Temporary Housing Complex

‘I have not laughed so heartily for a long time. Right after the earthquake and tsunami, I was just struggling to survive and did not really think about my life. Now that I have more time, I often think about the hardship I am facing and this makes me feel sad. I often see people crying but today we could all laugh together. It was really good.’ A woman who participated in the event at the community space at Ogawa Kouen Temporary Housing Complexes

Mr. Nekohachi asking for request from the audience
Mr. Nekohachi asking for request from the audience
Mr. Masao Suzuki, a singer from Soma City
Mr. Masao Suzuki, a singer from Soma City
Big laugh of the audience
Big laugh of the audience
Participants dancing together to Soma Bonka
Participants dancing together to Soma Bonka
Mr. Nekohachi and Mr. Suzuki
Mr. Nekohachi and Mr. Suzuki
Jul 1, 2013

Thank you for all your support!

Beneficiary with solar panel to open his salon
Beneficiary with solar panel to open his salon

People living in Lira, in the northern region of Uganda, have been severely affected by landmines and UXOs which were scattered all over the area throughout the civil war that lasted for the past 20 years. Many people were severely injured, and had to have their legs and/or arms amputated.

As we have reported in the last three reports, AAR Japan, in cooperation with ULSA (Uganda Landmine Survivors Association), had been supporting 30 victims financially by providing start-up kits for those willing to take up a business on their own. Also, AAR Japan had been providing medical support to 15 victims, who need prosthetic limbs or physical rehabilitation in order to move around freely again.

AAR Japan and ULSA had completed this project and we are now considering to start the new victims assistance project at the different area of Uganda. We will do our best to keep helping people in Uganda. We very much appreciate all your help so far and donations afforded through GlobalGiving. Thank you for your time. 

Beneficiary referred to hospital for rehab
Beneficiary referred to hospital for rehab
 
   

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