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.
May 30, 2013

Protect Children's Health with Safe Water

Children receiving water at Minato Nursery School
Children receiving water at Minato Nursery School

Water is essential for life, and Japan has been proud of its abundance in water. However, after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, shortage of safe water is threatening the well-being of young children in Fukushima. The following report describes AAR’s current effort to protect health of children by providing bottled water to nurseries and kindergartens in Fukushima Prefecture. 

After the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, radiation exposure has been a serious concern for everyone living in the affected area including young children who are thought to experience larger impact by radiation. Mothers are always worried about what their children consume at home and outside. Although food comes to many people’s mind as a primary source of radiation exposure, water, not only for drinking but also for cooking, is also a critical one.

In the most part of Fukushima Prefecture, water for daily use was not something people are accustomed to paying for. Instead they used to use tap water for drinking and cooking without worry before the nuclear power plant accident. When concern about the radiation contamination in tap water arose, nurseries and kindergartens were suddenly forced to find a way to procure safe water. At any nurseries and kindergartens, plenty of water is used every day for drinking, cooking lunch and snack for children and preparing milk for infants. However, many facilities did not have a separate budget for water purchase and no extra budget was available especially in the aftermath of the earthquake - people were facing a lot of unexpected expenses. There were some nursery school staff who bought safe bottled water for children at their own expenses and some nurseries had children to bring bottled water from home. Some teachers told us that they really wished to let children drink safe water as much as they want when they are thirsty, which they took for granted for ages.

In response to this wish, AAR Japan has been providing safe bottled water to 9 nurseries and kindergartens in Soma, Minami Soma and Date City in Fukushima Prefecture. The total amount delivered reached 16,480 litters so far. It was a great pleasure for us to see children happily drinking water and more unforgettable was the facility staff’s relieved expression. They told us that although they sometimes received time-to-time water donation, they had always been anxious since the donation was not guaranteed to continue. Water is simply essential for daily living, and the fear of running out of it is horrifying. 

AAR Japan has also been supporting Yotsuba Nursery School through providing fruits for children’s lunch. Due to the concern on the radiation contamination in locally produced food, the nursery school has tried to purchase food items produced outside Fukushima Prefecture, but as they were costlier than the locally produced, this option was not financially sustainable. Hence AAR Japan decided to deliver fruits that are produced outside Fukushima Prefecture in response to the request from the nursery. Children are now able to enjoy seasonal, nutritious and safe fresh fruits for lunch. Meanwhile, this support could have more meaning - maintaining balanced diet and good eating habit at an early stage of life has a huge impact on children’s growth and future physical health. Children are eating not only for today, but also for their future.  

AAR Japan will continue the support through provision of water and fruits to nurseries and kindergartens. Let us help children and mothers in Fukushima Prefecture to maintain good health through safe water and balanced diet. 

Thank you letter from Minato Nursery School
Thank you letter from Minato Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
Children enjoying fruits at Yotsuba Nursery School
May 1, 2013

Our Progress over the Past 2 years: Activity Report

Delivering chocolates with the message of support
Delivering chocolates with the message of support

The Great East Japan Earthquake: Two years on from the earthquake disaster

- an activity report of the progress to date

Building on its extensive experience in providing international emergency relief, the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has continued its relief activities to support the survivors in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In cooperation with the government and disabled people’s organizations, AAR has utilized its refined mobility as an NGO to continue its relief efforts to those in areas that are difficult to reach. Together with expressing our heart-felt gratitude to the individuals, corporations and organisations that have supported AAR Japan, this report entails our endeavours over the  last two years.

 

1. Emergency Response  - Life-Saving Emergency Relief

a. First assistance team dispatched to the disaster area:

2011/3/13

Immediately after the earthquake, our relief team made initial assessments and distributed relief supplies around the disaster stricken areas.

  

b. Delivery of Relief Supplies:

To 180,000 individuals in 1,606 locations

Drawing from our experience in overseas disaster relief that persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly are prone to be overlooked during a disaster, AAR Japan implemented its activities focusing on these two population groups. Adult diapers and retort food were well received at social welfare facilities.

 

 c. Soup Kitchens

25,000 meals in 73 locations

Soup kitchens were organized in our wish to cheer up the disaster survivors with hot meals. Menus were well planned-out so that they were rich in variety and had a fresh taste of the changing seasons.

 

d. Mobile Clinic and Health-Related Service

Recipients of medical check-ups:   817 individuals

Recipients of home-care nurse visit:   387 individuals

AAR Japan organized mobile clinics with a medical team led by Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA, a local medical practitioner, and implemented health-related services including check-ups for chronic illnesses, prevention of infectious diseases, and provision of psychological support through counseling.

In addition to medical check-ups, AAR Japan staff members lent their ears to survivors who carry concerns like their daily worries toward their future and desperate need for supplies. One beneficiary commented, “I was so happy to have people come to my house on multiple occasions and be so concerned about my health condition. Having people recognize my existence gave me strength.”

 

2. Recovery Support - Reclaiming Their Daily Lives

a. Delivery of Daily Essentials to Victims in Fukushima Prefecture

To 22,599 families

Daily essentials including kitchenware and basic furniture were distributed to all households in temporary and subsidized housing complexes across 13 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.

 

b. Reconstruction of Facilities for the Elderly and PWDs

 

71 locations

AAR Japan conducted reconstruction of facilities for PWDs and senior care centers, and provision of necessary equipment in cooperation with local contractors. This helped the PWDs in disaster areas reunite with their fellow colleagues and resume their former activities and job.

AAR Japan assisted construction of a new bread factory at ‘Hakku no Ie’, a workshop for PWDs in Tanohata Village, Iwate Prefecture. The factory has a dine-in space that serves fresh baked goods and is popular among the local community.

 

c. Vehicle Provision to Facilities for PWDs, Senior Care Centers, and Local Municipal Offices

42 vehicles

Assistive and standard vehicles were provided to facilities and local municipal offices throughout the Tohoku region to be used for pick-up and drop-off services for facility users and as a means of transportation for those partaking in recovery efforts.

 

d. Container Housing Project

57 containers provided

AAR Japan provided prefabricated container houses which can be used as both residence and shops.

 

4. Reconstruction Support - For a New Tomorrow

a. Reconstruction of Facilities for the Elderly and PWDs

38 locations

Many facilities for PWDs were damaged by the earthquake. These facilities offered vocational training and employment to those who have difficulty working in private companies; however, as a result of the earthquake disaster, these facilities were lost. By conducting activities such as repairing these facilities for PWDs or supplying the necessary equipment for work, AAR Japan assists PWDs in reclaiming their workplace.

 

b. Sales Fair of Products of Social Welfare Facilities

Number of fairs organized: 27

Many workshops have come to restart production of sweets and crafts, however, the sales have decreased at many facilities since existing customers themselves are affected by the disaster. In order to help these facilities explore new sales channels, AAR Japan organizes sales fairs at companies in Tokyo and encourages these facilities to participate in joint fairs held at shopping centers in Morioka and Sendai. We also support the development of new products.

 

c: Hosting of Community Interaction Events

Rehabilitation and active listening: 132 times

Community interaction events: 129 events

In order to help the affected people maintain both their physical and mental health, AAR Japan has organized various events under the title ‘Building Healthy Communities Project’. Events combining programs such as rehabilitation, concerts and active listening are held regularly at temporary housing complexes. We also facilitate farming activities at small-scale gardens in order to promote neighborhood interaction through gardening.

 

d. For Children in Fukushima Prefecture

Installment and Provision of Playground Equipment: in 45 locations

Delivery of Bottled Water to Nurseries and Kindergartens:  9 locations/11,440 liters

AAR Japan has assisted in creating play areas where children can relieve their stress and solve the problem of lack of exercise that are developed from living in cramped temporary housing complexes. This includes setting up large-scale playground equipment within the premises of the temporary housing complexes and supplying indoor play toys to places such as assembly halls and day care facilities. Furthermore, in response to the concerns of mothers who are worried about radiation in drinking water, bottles of mineral water are also being provided to preschools in Fukushima Prefecture.

 

e. Walking Side by Side with People in Fukushima

Staff members of AAR Japan’s Soma office continues to visit every residence in temporary housing complexes to carefully listen to the concerns of each resident.

Ekuko Yokoyama, a staff member of Soma office makes rounds every day to talk to those who have confronted loss of family members and face uncertainty about the future.

  

f. Distribution of Radiation Dosimeters

11 devices delivered

To measure the contamination level of outdoor-grown harvests and food items that they consume daily, radiation dosimeters were installed at support centers of temporary housing complexes and public halls in Soma City.

 

  

g. Delivering Kindness from Across the Country

Hand-made tote bags delivered   10,543 bags

Chocolate   4,843 boxes

Flower seedlings   1,603 pots 

In response to suggestions made by the disaster survivors that a tote bag would be useful when going to school or to organize relief supplies that were provided, a large number of handmade bags with messages attached were donated after a nation-wide call out for their creation. (Bags collected in April 2011, October 2011 and September 2012).

Several people also contributed to the “Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign” where messages of support from the public were attached to boxes of AAR Japan’s charity chocolate (with cooperation from the Rokkatei Confectionary Co., Ltd.) and delivered to the disaster areas. There were those who shed tears when they received the message, “We have not forgotten about you”.  (Messages collected: Winter 2011-2012 and Winter 2012-2013).

In the spring of 2012, AAR Japan commenced the “Delivering Flowers and Magokoro (literally translated as sincerity) Campaign” that aimed to send flowers to brighten up the disaster-stricken areas. Purchasing potted plants from florists and facilities for PWDs in the disaster areas, they were then individually delivered to places such as temporary housing complexes, each with a message attached.

 

h. For a Healthy Living

In cooperation with the Morioka City’s municipal office and Morioka Municipal Hospital, AAR Japan implements activities to promote the health of people living in the coastal areas of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. People living in cramped temporary housing are prone to suffer from lack of exercise that could lead to economy syndrome and disuse syndrome. A medical team makes visits to temporary housing complexes to conduct prevention screening and workshop for exercise to counter these diseases.

 

i. Improving the Welfare System for PWDs in the Disaster Areas

5 staff members dispatched for 51 cumulative months

In cooperation with the local government and other organizations, AAR Japan addresses issues surrounding the welfare system for PWDs in the disaster areas. In Iwate Prefecture, 4 staff members were temporarily dispatched to the regional centers of the “Iwate Disability and Welfare Recovery and Relief Center”. Creating manuals for emergency evacuations and gaining a deeper understanding of the actual conditions of the disaster survivors with disabilities are examples of the work that is being conducted. In Miyagi Prefecture, AAR Japan has dispatched one staff member to the “Miyagi Prefecture Ikuseikai”. Focusing on Minami-Sanriku Town, this project has continued with repairs of areas in which children with disabilities can play after school and during the summer holidays.

 

Help Survivors to Make a New Start

There is still a lot of work to do in the disaster-hit areas of Japan! If you would like to help us provide long-term assistance to the earthquake and tsunami survivors, please consider making a monthly donation to one of the above projects. Every donation (be it one-time or recurring) is truly appreciated.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Your AAR Japan Project Team

 

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Check our other activities on http://www.aarjapan.gr.jp/english/ !

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AAR
AAR's first assistance team in Kesennuma City
Vehicle provided to a facility for PWDs
Vehicle provided to a facility for PWDs
'Work Follow Otsuchi', workshop for PWDs, repaired
a member of hand-craft circle Tsugihagi-Suppe-cha
a member of hand-craft circle Tsugihagi-Suppe-cha
People at the community interaction event
People at the community interaction event
Apr 11, 2013

GlobalGiving visited Fukushima Prefecture

Photo of Ms.Britt, local children and, Daijo (AAR)
Photo of Ms.Britt, local children and, Daijo (AAR)

GlobalGiving's site visit to AAR Japan's project sites in Fukushima Prefecture

           GlobalGiving’s Director of Programs, Ms. Britt LAKE visited AAR Japan’s project sites in Fukushima Prefecture on March 26th. In this report AAR Japan will introduce two of our activities from the site visit.

 Minami-Soma City: Radiation Dosimeters installed at Workshops for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

           Just over 20 km out of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant lies Minami-Soma City where many evacuees from within 20 km radius came to live. In Minami-Soma City, an NGO called JIN operates a workshop named “Salad Farm”, providing training and working opportunities for PWDs. Originally JIN was located in Namie-Town, only 9 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, but due to the high radiation contamination JIN along with many of its former employees evacuated to Minami-Soma City.

              It is the 2nd year for JIN’s staff members to cultivate their farm land. This land was originally covered by bushes and nothing was grown. The staff members spent 2 years clearing the bushes and cultivating the land in addition to building few green houses to protect the land from radiation. Now they are able to harvest several types of vegetables including potatoes, carrots and cabbages for sale.

              To promote sales of their products, with the help of GlobalGiving, AAR Japan installed a radiation dosimeter at Salad Farm so that they can measure the contamination level of the harvested vegetables. People in Fukushima Prefecture are still exposed to radiation on a daily basis; and in order to ensure steady sales of crops, thereby securing the income for the PWDs at Salad Farm, it is crucial to show that Salad Farm’s products are safe for consumption.

 Shinchi Town: Playground Equipment at Temporary Housing Complexes

              After visiting Salad Farm, Ms. Britt and AAR staff members moved on to Suzumezuka Temporary Housing Complex and Shinbayashi Temporary Housing Complex both in Shichi Town, Fukushima Prefecture, approximately 50 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In both temporary housing complexes, AAR Japan had installed playground equipment in cooperation with GlobalGiving.

              After the March 11th 2011 disaster, majority of schools in Fukushima Prefecture restricted outdoor activities including Physical Education classes. The consequence was astonishing. According to the result of the 2012 health check up conducted by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology at all the public schools in Japan, children in Fukushima had the highest rate of obesity for nearly all age groups while children aged 5 through 11 were in serious situation. Children of 5, 6, and 8 years old have twice as much risk of being overweight as the country’s average while for those aged 5-9, 14, and 17, children in Fukushima recorded the highest percentage of obesity in the nation.

              To alleviate the effect of restricted outdoor activities at schools and to improve the health condition of children in temporary housings, we installed the playground equipment. We believe small help such as installation of playground equipment can make a big difference for small children to be physically active to have healthier life in future.

              Besides the two activities reported above, we are currently implementing providing safe drinking water to kindergartens and nurseries in Fukushima, and we are also holding community gathering events periodically. All these activities are supported by generous donations that we receive from GlobalGiving. We appreciate every bit of help we receive.

Mr.KAWAMURA (JIN) shows organic garden to Ms.Britt
Mr.KAWAMURA (JIN) shows organic garden to Ms.Britt
Salad Farm staff members planting potato cutting
Salad Farm staff members planting potato cutting
A radiation dosimeter set, installed at Salad Farm
A radiation dosimeter set, installed at Salad Farm
A boy from Temporary Housing Complex at signboard
A boy from Temporary Housing Complex at signboard
Talking with evacuees in temporary housing complex
Talking with evacuees in temporary housing complex
 
   

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