Three years have passed since the great earthquake on March 11, 2011. We lanuched Tohoku Fellowship Program to suppor recovery efforts by dispatching young professionals to good leaders in Tohoku.
We have sent 182 Fellows to 102 projects in 22 municipalities seriously damaged by the earthquake, tsunami and accident of the nuclear plant. This program could have met human resource needs in Tohoku, where the aging rate is high.
We have made a report on 3 years of this program. To share the progress with overseas donors, the report is written both in Japanese and English. Please see the report to catch a glimpse of Tohoku's recovery.
Before 3.11, Gouta Matsumura, the president of ISHINOMAKI 2.0, used to support communities in the coastal city of Ishinomaki. The earthquakes and tsunami on March 11th severely affected his office, which was situated nearby a river, causing flooding on the ground floor and demolition of nearly the half of the building. In the beginning of the disaster recovery, he was working hard to clean mud and rubles. Gradually, more and more people, including volunteer staff from less affected regions, also joined the cleaning.
Ishinomaki city, Miyagi prefecture was enormously damaged by the earthquake on March 11, 2011. Tsunami destroyed almost all area of the center of Ishinomaki city except uplands. Out of a population of 160,000, about 4,000 people were killed or went missing. About 25,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed.
In 2013, Mr. Daigo Hashimoto, who had worked in Ishinomaki as a Fellow, launched “Local Health Support Project” in the north area of Isninomaki city, where the population aging rate approaches to 30%. This project aims to promote better health of local people. He came to Tohoku in May 2011 as a Fellow. Utilizing his expertise as a physical therapist, he supported rehabilitation program in temporary housings, while coordinating volunteers. After his working period as a Fellow, he decided to stay at Ishinomaki city in order to launch the new project. ETIC supported him through our incubation program in Tohoku.
In “Local Health Support Project”, they provide day service to elderly people. They also developed fitness program for rehabilitation to prevent elderly people to fall sick and rely on the nursing-care insurance support. Six months have passed since the launch on May 2013, and now about 40 people aged among 40s to 90s use their services.
They also hold exchange events with local users, and help to establish network among local experts of medical and nursing care fields. They plan to involve local inhabitants as health supporters and to construct environment for local inhabitants to take care of their health by themselves.
“There are many aging areas and depopulation areas across Japan. I want to expand our model to other areas” Mr. Hashimoto says.