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.
Jan 11, 2013

Portable Planetarium Shows in Soma City, Fukushima

Children eagerly look up at the planetarium.
Children eagerly look up at the planetarium.

Delivery of Portable Planetarium Shows

Children of Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, had been playing in their neighborhood parks and playgrounds before the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in March 2011. However, they are now having a hard time being able to play outdoors as they want to, since many of those parks and playgrounds were swept away by the tsunami and some areas of the city still have high radiation levels.

Since the opening of its office in Soma City in April 2012, AAR Japan has assisted children of the city in many ways, including the installation of playground equipment at temporary housing complexes. As AAR Japan staff frequently visited the temporary housing complexes and subsidized housings in the city, they have become friends with children living there and often heard them voice their desire to see a planetarium show. In response, AAR Japan decided to hold “Mobile Planetarium Shows,” hoping that the projection of a starlit night sky would not only offer an educational experience to learn about the universe and constellations, but would also uplift the children so that they can pursue their dreams.

 

 Tonight, What Stars Are in the Sky Over Soma City?

Soma City has no permanent planetarium facility. Therefore, in order for the children of the city to see a planetarium show, they have to travel to the cities of Sendai or Koriyama, taking 1 to 1.5 hours by car. The mother of a second-grade boy said, “Since my son began to show interest in stars, we’ve visited planetariums in Koriyama and Sendai several times. But after the disaster, we now have fewer opportunities to see planetarium shows because we have to pass through areas with high radiation in order to go to Koriyama.

The venue for the mobile planetarium shows was Soma Municipal Nakamura First Elementary School. Inflating a sky-blue dome, we set up in the school gym a hemispherical planetarium that holds about 40 spectators per show. During the two days of September 29th and 30th, we ran 10 planetarium shows and had as many as 489 visitors consisting of students of elementary school in Soma City and their parents.

 The presenter who gives live narrations is Mr. Miyuki TOHYAMA from “Yokohama Mobile Planetarium,” one of the organizations that made the shows possible. As soon as young spectators are seated inside the dome, light music starts playing and it begins to get dark. They became excited as stars come out in twos and threes on the ceiling that was merely dark. While having their eyes glued to twinkling stars, the children find themselves in total darkness but under a myriad of stars they have never seen before. “Oh, that’s the Milky Way!” they say, pointing to stars joyfully.

Projected on the screen was “The Starry Sky Tonight over Soma City.” Mr. TOHYAMA tells the children how to identify stars and constellations such as the North Star and the Great Summer Triangle. “The star, which is known in Japan as Orihime, is Vega in the constellation Lyra, which forms one corner of the Great Summer Triangle.” “Sitting low in the northern sky over Soma City tonight is the constellation Cassiopeia.” Under the fascinating starlit sky, every 20-minute show just flies by.

 

“This is my first time to see a planetarium show.” “I felt the stars so close to me.”

“This was a very timely event for us, because my son has just begun to show an interest in stars and we bought a constellation guidebook very recently. He was looking forward to this event so much that he filled in the application form by himself without bringing it home and completed the registration at school,” the mother of 8 year-old Kosuke joyfully told us. Kosuke’s father also said, “We’re very glad to be here today as there aren’t many events like this one where children can learn. It would be great if we have more events of this kind.”

 Over 80% of the visitors were children, and for most of them it was the first time seeing a planetarium show. During the intermission, they enjoyed bouncy ball scooping, bingo, and trampolining prepared in the gym.

It was unfortunately cloudy that day, but in clear nights, the sky over Soma City will also be jeweled with glittering stars. In winter, bright stars including the constellation Orion start to twinkle in the night sky. Chances are, the Geminids will also be making their appearance. We hope they will continue to enjoy observing the stars, applying what they have learned from the show. AAR Japan will continue its activities in Fukushima Prefecture.

Soma Planetarium Project was made possible by the support and cooperation of PEACE PROJECT, GlobalGiving, Yokohama Mobile Planetarium, Soma Municipal Nakamura First Elementary School in Fukushima Prefecture, and Nalelu.Co.,Ltd.

The visitors wait in line to see the planetarium.
The visitors wait in line to see the planetarium.
Mr.TOHYAMA explains to the audience what they see.
Mr.TOHYAMA explains to the audience what they see.
"The stars looked clear and it was so beautiful."
"The stars looked clear and it was so beautiful."
boys said "It was like seeing the real universe."
boys said "It was like seeing the real universe."
4th grade boys help to build the planetarium dome.
4th grade boys help to build the planetarium dome.
During intermission, children enjoyed many games.
During intermission, children enjoyed many games.
With the spectators of the last planetarium show.
With the spectators of the last planetarium show.
Nov 26, 2012

Landmine Victims in Uganda

Eunice with her business materials
Eunice with her business materials

In Uganda AAR Japan is supporting landmine victims. Many of them have lost part of their body, such as their leg, in landmine accidents. Such persons with disabilities (PWDs) are facing problems earning money to live and AAR Japan tries to lessen these problems by supporting them while they receive limb prosthesis fitting, and by promoting income generating activities (IGA).

 In this report, we would like to introduce Eunice, who has lost her leg due to landmine but survived. First AAR Japan provided her with a start-up package to begin a restaurant business. The package consisted of initial capital, food, and utensils. Today, her restaurant is a favorite eating joint for surrounding schools and casual labourers in the community. From her savings, her 19 year old daughter started a second line of business – a retail merchandise shop, next to the restaurant.  She has also sent her younger sister to a vocational training institute to study a tailoring course and has bought for her a sewing machine. Eunice has lost her leg, but not her spirit to succeed. Though she has never been to school herself, Eunice speaks with passion about educating her siblings and giving them a decent life.

 AAR Japan believes that people, with or without disabilities, have capacity to bring themselves up. Those who received our IGA support so far demonstrated so much passion, dedication, and effort to lead their business to success and earn more income to help their family members and relatives. AAR Japan will do it’s best to keep helping people in Uganda, and we really appreciate all your help and donations through GlobalGiving.

Thank you for reading.

Eunice "Diligence is the key to success"
Eunice "Diligence is the key to success"
A package given to another family for business
A package given to another family for business
Nov 19, 2012

Our Ongoing Effort to Help HIV/AIDS Orphans and Our Progress

One of our beneficiaries and a staff of AAR Japan
One of our beneficiaries and a staff of AAR Japan

AAR Japan have been supporting education of HIV/AIDS orphans since 2004. Our project started out small but with the increase in both the need for education and the number of HIV/AIDS orphans, we have continuously expanded the scope of our activities. At the moment, we are supporting the schooling of 48 children by providing their tuitions.

To keep this project sustainable we are promoting income generation activities (IGA) of poultry farming and milling of maize among the host families. Although we have not been able to cover the tuition of all 48 children with the profits obtained through IGA, we aim to gradually increase the profit every year so that the beneficiaries can become self-sufficient in the near future.

 We would like to introduce some of the HIV/AIDS orphans whom we support.

 "I want to become a lawyer in the future and help those who are in need.”

Having lost their parents, HIV/AIDS orphans were in various circumstances. Some of them lost both of their parents and were living with their grandparents, uncles or aunts, while others were living together with one of their parents who is infected with HIV. Nevertheless, one common factor was that every child is studying very hard in order to fulfill his or her future dream. They said that they normally study at home for about 1.5 to 2 hours after school every day. The most popular aspiration among the children is to become a lawyer, followed by an accountant, a journalist, and an elementary school teacher. One of these children, a 13-year-old boy named Kosam Phili Lungu who has 4 brothers, is a 6th grade student at an elementary school in Ng’ombe. As his father is sick, he goes to school after taking care of his family’s daily needs such as carrying water and washing dishes. He told us, "I would like to become a lawyer in the future so that I can work for social justice and help people who are in trouble."

 AAR Japan’s Resolution

 In order to realize many HIV/AIDS orphans’ dreams, AAR Japan will continue our activities so that these orphans will be able to attend school to achieve their goals. We believe that by helping the youth of Zambia, we can build a better future not only for those children who receive our support but also for the entire community.

 Thank you for all your support which enables us to keep continuing this project.

The HIV/AIDS orphans we support visit us often
The HIV/AIDS orphans we support visit us often
A child who told about his study showing his texts
A child who told about his study showing his texts
Ng
Ng'ombe office assist IGA done by host families

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