Jul 13, 2018

Preparing Festival to Rebuild Mashiki Community

Picture 1: Summer Festival Flier (Front Page)
Picture 1: Summer Festival Flier (Front Page)

The Kumamoto Earthquake took place only one month after the Kamaishi Kitchen Car  Team (KKCT) established the National Kitchen Car Disaster Network in March 2016. In cooperation with the Kumamoto Catering Car Association, KKCT rushed to disaster-stricken Mashiki Township to serve 20,000 food, especially in remote areas and Children’s LEC Center where psychologically-handicapped children live for treatment. They not only served food, but also promoted the use of kitchen cars for rebuilding restaurant business there. Ten disaster-stricken restaurant owners attended KKCT’s seminars, for which KKCT brought two kitchen cars from Kamaishi and donated them to entrepreneurs wishing to start new businesses. KKCT helped especially one young entrepreneurs whose newly established restaurant was destroyed completely one day before its opening ceremony. Providing valuable information and advises on kitchen car operations, several people started their kitchen-car businesses. Those who are actively involved in rebuilding their economic activities came to establish a voluntary organization, called “Revival Mashiki”.

KKCT, learning in Kamaishi how important it is to rebuild a community to redevelop the disaster-stricken area, KKCT and Revival Mashiki organized “Wai Wai Festivals” under the sponsorship of DSIA and GlobalGiving. Now, Revival Mashiki became the key organizer of diverse events, and finally they decided to develop a big Summer Bon Festival on July 28 (Sat.). It established a slogan of “Real Smile! Mashiki”, accompanied by the following Introductory statement:

“Two years have passed since the earthquake disaster. The situation of our town has not improved as you can see. We have some people doing better, but many still struggling to rebuild their lives. Town is the same as before. But we also have hope. People start smiling a little bit, and more people came back to join us to rebuild our community. This is not enough, though. We need more smiles and more people to join us. We would like to recover the scenes when we were filled with the smiles of many people and the times when grandpas and grandmos, fathers and mothers, and children really smiled and enjoyed. We would like to rebuild those good days. Let’s have a Summer Festival as we used to do at Mashiki.” April 27, 2018 by the “Real Smile Mashiki” Project Committee Members

The Project Committee consists of about ten young volunteers (age between 30 and 40). Responding to their initiatives, so far eleven companies, seven NGOs, Mashiki Chamber of Commerce, Mashiki Township Government, and Mashiki Education Committee, all agreed to provide funding and help this event. In other words, the Project Committee very much succeeded to mobilize the whole township and obtained external help to have the big Summer Festival.

A big Summer Festival will be held between 16:00 and 20:00 on July 28 (Sat.), 2018, in the parking lot of Mashiki Township Government Temporary Office (Picture 1). They are going to revive Bon Dance which has not been performed several years even before the earthquake. The Mashiki Ladies Association will provide lessens at schools and temporary housing areas to generate interactions among people. There will also be a fire work based on project mapping technology. Children from kindergartens and nursery schools and students from grade schools, junior high schools, and senior high schools will participate in drawing smiles of people on the campuses of many different-sizes (Picture 2 and 3). There will be also stage performances by fifteen groups and organizations. They are famous musicians, school children, and senior groups. Several comedians will also come to join the festival. Naturally, about 25 shops will open in a market, called “Revival Mashiki Redevelopment Market”, where people can meet each other again. (Picture 4)

Amazingly a collaboration between KKCT and DSIA funded by the GlobalGiving was the very source of igniting such movements. It will be really a big boost for redeveloping Mashiki Community, without which the recovery and redevelopment out of the disaster will not take place as quickly as we all hope.  

Picture 2: Children Drawing Pictures
Picture 2: Children Drawing Pictures
Picture 3: Adding a Special Tough to His Drawing
Picture 3: Adding a Special Tough to His Drawing
Picture 4: The Details of Summer Festival Event
Picture 4: The Details of Summer Festival Event

Links:

Jun 19, 2018

Another Very Difficult Struggle to Overcome

Children at Sunshine House 1
Children at Sunshine House 1

Redevelopment is a process of facing difficulties one by one. Kirarin Kids (KK) in Rikuzentakata City has been overcoming many difficulties to reach the present stage. It is very much owing to its firm belief and commitment to create favorable environments in the city for parents and children to grow nicely. They emphasize not only to create stimulating environments for mothers to have children, but also to transmit valuable culture of Tohoku Area to preserve tradition. They are trying to create balanced environments mixing modern and traditional, with which people identify the community as “furusato (hometown)” and to whichpeople feel belongingness as well as commitment to improve community relations. Thus, KK offers many programs to support parents to raise children, such as parents’ play time with children, Excursion to the Sunshine House (Picture 1 and 2), Visit by Toy Library Car, Pre-mother Day, Physical Checking Day, Bouquet-making Class. Traditional Food Cooking, Talk with Mayor, Session on After-childbirth conducted by a midwife, Talking with the Mayer, Summer Festival, Aromatic Therapy, etc. KK has a plenty of programs to attract many parents and children. They are also continuously venturing into a new field to create warm relations between parents and children.

The present city government subsidies and revenues in a free facility provided by the Prefectural Government are just enough to keep KK’s present activities implemented with staffs’ commitment and devotion. Now, seven years after the disaster, the government is pulling out most of supports, warning privately-operated organizations to move out of the facility or pay about \65,000 to \80,000 per month to a privatized organization which operates the previously free facilities. It is generating a difficult financial burden to KK, forcing them to look for an alternative place either free or with much lower monthly rent. They have not succeeded yet. Naturally, free places are difficult to find, while the rent of alternative place is not certain whether KK can manage their move to a new place. Still it may take for a while to know whether they can find an alternative place. They looked for a facility in vain. If they decide to close, it will be a great loss to Rikuzentakata. A significant number of parents and children will enormously get disappointed, if this happens.

Now, KK has urgent needs for financial supports to get them going until an alternative place can be found with a manageable monthly rent. They are facing another very-difficult challenge to build their future, basically to overcome the last hurdle in the last stage of redevelopment. Your support is very much in need to enable KK to find a good location to sustainably operate and achieve their valuable goals in Rikuzentakata.

Children and Mothers at Sunshine House 2
Children and Mothers at Sunshine House 2

Links:

Apr 27, 2018

Community Bonds for Redevelopment

Picture 1: Shops in the Event
Picture 1: Shops in the Event

“Mashiki Yataimura”, a temporary shop arcade in Mashikicho was established in June 2016, two months after the Kumamoto Earthquake. There, many heart-warming human stories were born. Through interactions among local people and outside supporters, they had opportunities to relieve themselves from pain, sorrow, and bewilderment about their lost family members, today’s living, and future one. But interactions among villagers nurtured community bonds and created new energy and a sense of solidarity as a community for redevelopment. Through the disaster, amid enormous destruction, they found new space for creation, deepened bonds among people, and new movements for redevelopment. Heart-warming stories occurred in Yataimura became a movie, titled “Walking Together, Salon Yataimura” (see the web address) which was just released by Tokyo Cable Network this April. Many Kumamoto Kitchen Car members provided stories and were even in the film. It clearly sent a message that destruction follows creation when new bonds and human interaction take place. As shown in this movie, community movements with deep human bonds, such as those found in Revival Mashiki organized by the Kamaishi Kitchen Car members, are vital for persevering through a disaster and redeveloping a community. They are one of key engines of redeveloping the Mashiki Community in Kumamoto Prefecture, and are pleased to have their contributions recognized in a movie.

To sustain their bonds, Revival Mashiki continuously organize diverse events. The most recent one was organized on February 11 (Picture 1), amid very cold temperature of three degree centigrade. Revival Mashiki dared to choose this cold day to show that they are seriously engaging in community building, since such events during winter are not frequently organized. They distributed 600 fliers and spread the event information through SNS. Owing to the cooperation of Self-Governing Organizations in the Mashikicho Techno Temporary Housing Area, quite many people from the old generation came to attend (Picture 2). Although the attendance of 183 people was a little bit less than expected, they came to know that many old people and young children had been waiting for this event (Picture 3 & Picture 4). There was also a live stage of two very popular musicians, which was kept secret fearing that the place may be uncontrollably jam packed (Picture 5). Flags used in the previous event and placed in conspicuous places also helped to bring many new visitors to this event. Ladies in the Self-Governing Organizations demonstrated how to make “Noppe Soup” in front of visitors (Picture 6). For the first time, Self-Governing Organizations participated, suggesting that they themselves came to recognize the importance of such events for building bonds in communities. The outcome clearly shows that efforts of Revival Mashiki are generating significant impacts to the community and are contributing to nurturing deeper bonds and community identity.

Picture 2: Old People from Temporary Housing Area
Picture 2: Old People from Temporary Housing Area
Picture 3: Children Enjoying the Event
Picture 3: Children Enjoying the Event
Picture 4: Many Children at the Event
Picture 4: Many Children at the Event
Picture 5: Live Performances
Picture 5: Live Performances
Picture 6: Cooking Demonstration
Picture 6: Cooking Demonstration

Links:

 
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