Updates from Japan Relief Projects

Apr 23, 2018

Disaster Recovery Spring 2018 Report

It is very hard to believe that it has been seven years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku region.  Thank you so much for continuing to help us further assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. People are still living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop.

 Late winter and early spring are very busy times for farmers in Tohoku as they must work hard to prepare for the new growing season.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.

 With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce.

 In February, we took 14 volunteers to help Saito-san and his wife prepare to dismantle and remove several large green houses where they have been growing their primary crop — paprika.  Since the tsunami washed away their home and their paprika farm, the Saito Family has been leasing land further inland where they have been growing paprika.  The lease, however, is expiring so the Saito Family must dismantle the green houses and reassemble them on new leased land. 

 Over two days, the volunteers helped by removing 1,000s of clips, nets and other materials that were used to secure the paprika plants as they grew and by dismantling all the piping inside the green houses.  It was a massive job and the Saito Family will reuse all these materials when they reassemble the green houses on new leased land.

 In April, we took 25 volunteers to Fukushima for the first time in order to help four farming families prepare for the new growing season.

 One family grows rice and the volunteers helped prepare rice plant seedlings.  We prepared trays with soil, planted seedlings and carried the completed trays to green houses.  After the seedlings grow a bit bigger, the family will plant them in the rice fields.

 The other three families grow peach and apple trees.  Fukushima is known for its delicious peaches and apples.  The volunteers helped these families by thinning out the peach blossoms so that this year’s peaches will be large and juicy.

 The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in two days would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the green houses, the rice farmers looked at the seedlings, and the fruit tree farmers looked at the peach trees with tremendous gratitude. They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much.

 With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives.

 We are also continuing to organize projects in Tokyo for volunteers residing in Tokyo who want to support Tohoku but are unable to travel to Tohoku.

 There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement.

 Thank you very much in advance for your continued support this year and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.

Mar 30, 2018

Uplifting Feeling of young generations

JEN has been providing support in “Raising the Next Generation Project” from the planning phase. The project aims that young people in their teens to 30s become attracted to the idea of participating in regional development, making the region where young generation want to work and live in future.


The project implement body is a group that supports raising the next generations, which is composed of SAVE TAKATA and Rikuzentakata citizen. Adults support junior high students in the project. ”EXCITE TAKATA”, a two-hour presentation by 2nd year junior high students in Rikuzentakata, was held on Jan 14 2018. The venue was the Abasse Takata, a shopping mall in Rikuzentakata. 50 members of Rikuzentakata-citizen and 20 junior-high students attended the event.

Some attendees said “Kids are trying their best, so we have to do our best, too.”, “I support the students’ efforts.” From these comments, we realize the project has been supporting not only children but also the region.

This is a presentation by the students who had tried workplace experience.

They made a presentation on what they had learned from meeting people who engage in the activity to rebuild Rikuzentakata, expressing they realized each person is building Rikuzentakata. They prepared the presentation material by themselves.

The title of this presentation is “Nobody calls Rikuzentakata the ordinery rural area”. Students voiced their opinions that Rikuzentakata may be the hope among other disaster areas if it would achieve  the revitalization to becomean extraordinary city in 10-20 years.

Photo

There was an opinion among junior high students “Is there anything we can do more in Rikuzentakata?”, and 18 student volunteers started “FACE(Future, Action, Connect, Evolution)”. The team is carrying out activities of region development with the help of the support group.

Photo

Rikuzentakata, rebuilding.

Links:

Jan 24, 2018

Disaster Recovery New Years Report

Thank you very much for all your continued support.  You have helped us further assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives nearly seven years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Autumn and early winter are very busy times for farmers in Tohoku as they must work hard to harvest their crops and then clear and prepare the fields for winter.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and, as a result, further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables, and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
In December, we took 15 volunteers — including members of a boy scout troop from The American School in Japan — to help Saito-san and his wife.  The boy scouts were between 11 and 16 years old and more than half had volunteered in Tohoku with Hands On Tokyo before.  
 
Over two days, the volunteers helped by clearing dead eggplant plants (which have large branches and deep roots) from a large field.  Eggplants grow quite well in soil that was impacted by saltwater and sand during the tsunami so eggplants have become one of Saito-san’s primary crops together with paprika and leeks.
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in one or two days would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the eggplant field with deep gratitude. They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in two days. 
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives. We already have a volunteer trip to Tohoku planned for February during which we will help Saito-san and his wife dismantle several large greenhouses so that they can reuse the materials to build greenhouses in another area. 
 
We also took the volunteers to an elementary school near Sendai which was an evacuation center during the tsunami and is now a museum.  The children, teachers and local residents in the school survived the tsunami which tragically washed away the surrounding area.  We took the volunteers there for natural disaster awareness and preparedness training.  It was particularly impactful because the boy scouts have recently attended elementary school themselves.  They learned the importance of acting quickly when there is a natural disaster and of always updating one’s evacuation plans. 
This volunteer trip was also very impactful on the volunteers because they could see firsthand how an area devastated by a natural disaster is recovering day by day.  Thank you very much for your generous support in helping make all this possible.  The volunteers greatly appreciated the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced.  Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their boy scouts troop and in their school to volunteer in the future. 
 
We are also continuing to organize projects in Tokyo for volunteers residing in Tokyo who want to support Tohoku but are unable to travel to Tohoku.  Since our last report, we organized two projects in Tokyo so that volunteers could make Christmas wreaths and Christmas stockings for people Tohoku residents who survived the earthquake and tsunami. 
 
Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture was greatly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami. The town is relatively near the nuclear power facility and the local residents were evacuated very abruptly after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami without any time to prepare or any sense of how long they would be away from their homes.  In July 2016 residents were allowed to begin returning to the town.  However, even now, many Minami Soma residents are still living in temporary housing.  We delivered the Christmas wreaths and Christmas stockings to people still living in temporary housing in Minami Soma.  It meant a lot to the temporary housing site residents to be remembered and encouraged during the holiday season. 
 
We also delivered Christmas wreaths and Christmas stockings to senior citizens from Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture, who survived the earthquake and tsunami and are now living in a nursing home near Ogatsu.  Ogatsu was completely devastated by the tsunami and it still will be some time before local residents will be allowed to move back to Ogatsu. Thank you very much for helping us bring a bit of Christmas Spirit to these nursing home residents.
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Tohoku and in Tokyo to further support and encourage the local residents in Minami Soma and Ogatsu. 
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued support this year and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
Jan 2, 2018

Tohoku Partners Meeting 2017

JEN organized a Tohoku Partners Meeting in October. This meeting is held once a year to gather all the 7 partner NPOs to review then activities they implemented over the year together with JEN.

Our partners are all based in local area of 3 Tsunami affected prefectures; Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Their support projects are related to each area's social issues and its beneficiaries are male caretakers, Childrens Cafeteria, Income generation for young generation etc.

Even though they are tackling different social issues, the goal is the same, "Leave no one behind".

Day1; 7 NPOs presented their achievement and discussed each other for the betterment.

DAY 2; JEN invited a consultant whose speciality is to support Not for profit organizations whose work is to make social change.

Now on its 6 years after the disaster, and the social activities are coming to the phase whether conclude or pursue, due to the lack of resources, lack of marketing skill and above all lack of organizational skill by evaluating the needs on the ground again and again. JEN is happy to support NPOs who run good practices within their community. In year 2018, it will be another challenging year on the above reasons. However, JEN works together with them and through them, wishing to contribute the better recovery from the disaster and moreover realize the fundamental social issues and make change in our society.

Links:

Nov 3, 2017

Progress continues in Tohoku

Photo from Japan Emergency NGO (JEN)
Photo from Japan Emergency NGO (JEN)

We're proud to report that we have more stories of progress to share from our partners helping the people of Tohoku recover and rebuild after 2011's devastating earthquake and tsunami. Your generosity continues to impact the affected communities in myriad ways, from medical training to economic development to habitat restoration.

Since 2011, the percentage of residents in quake-damaged Ishinomaki City needing long-term care has increased by 30 percent. Japan Emergency NGO (JEN) has partnered with a local volunteer organization to provide nursing care classes to men in the city who are caring for their spouses, but often have limited experience in housework and are frequently isolated socially. The monthly classes focus on nursing topics for long-term caregivers, like preventing bedsores and caring for people with dementia, as well as alleviating stress for caregivers and practical skills like cooking for their spouses.

This spring, Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA completed six years of work assisting the community of Isatomae, which was heavily damaged by the tsunami, rebuild its shopping arcade. The arcade, which houses eight shops and two restaurants, represents a first step in the redevelopment of Isatomae, allowing residents to not have to travel to neighboring communities for essential items and providing a new source of jobs in the community.

Hands on Tokyo has been organizing volunteers to support family farmers in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture who have been struggling with long-term labor shortages in the region resulting from the earthquake and tsunami. On a recent trip, volunteers from Tokyo helped a small farm by tending to paprika plants and weeding a field of leeks. Their volunteers have also helped clear brush and overgrown fields in and around temporary housing complexes for families still not permitted to return to their homes in Fukushima prefecture.

OISCA International continues to make progress toward their goal of restoring 100 hectares of coastal forest in Miyagi prefecture that were destroyed by the tsunami. This year their teams of volunteers from Japan, Thailand, and the United States have replanted 16 hectares of the coast with more than 70,000 black pine seedlings, and on return visits have seen that more than 99 percent of the seedlings have survived.

Thanks for your commitment to supporting the people and organizations who have worked for more than six years to rebuild and restore the communities of the Tohoku region.  We are now closing this fund, but if you’d like to continue supporting disaster relief efforts around the world, you can find more communities that need your help at https://www.globalgiving.org/disasters.


Warmly,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from OISCA International
Photo from OISCA International
Oct 23, 2017

Hands On Tokyo Tohoku Fall Report 2018

Thank you very much for all your continued support so far this year.  You have helped us further assure many people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives more than six years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Late summer and early autumn are very busy times for farmers as it is their primary growing season and when they must prepare for harvesting their crops  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
In September, we made two trips to help Saito-san and his wife.  
 
The first group of 22 volunteers — including children living in one of the children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped by clipping paprika plants to netting to ensure that the paprika plants and the paprikas continue to grow without breaking the plants’ branches and by removing clips which are no longer needed from the lower sections of the plants.  This process must take place several times during the growing season as the plants grow.  It is a very labor intensive process.  The Hands On Tokyo volunteers handled 1,000s of clips in the course of the afternoon.  Paprikas are Saito-san’s primary crop so his family’s livelihood depends on the strength of his paprika harvest each year. 
 
A week later 22 Hands On Tokyo Volunteers — including children living in eight different children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding their leek field. 
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they lappreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the paprika greenhouses and the leek field with deep gratitude. They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in two days. 
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives. We already have a volunteer trip to Tohoku planned for December.
 
Another area greatly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami is Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture.  It is relatively near the nuclear power facility and the local residents were evacuated very abruptly soon after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami without any time to prepare or any sense of how long they would be away from their homes.  In July 2016 residents were allowed to begin returning to the town but that did not mean they could immediately return to living in their homes.  The properties were as they were immediately after the earthquake and tsunami and the land was overgrown. The area and homes were essentially uninhabitable without a lot of hard work to be done.  Many of the residents who want to return are elderly and unable to do all the hard work.  Even now many Minami Soma residents are still living in temporary housing.  
The community greatly needs the continued support of volunteers.  In September we sent two volunteer groups to Minami Soma.
The first group of 22 volunteers — including children from one of the children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped cut down weeds at a temporary housing site and visited with the temporary housing site residents.  It meant a lot to the temporary housing site residents just to have visitors. 
The second group of 22 volunteers — including children from eight different children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped tame an overgrown field that had been untouched for over six years.  They weeded by hand and with mowers. 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Minami Soma to further support and encourage the local residents.  We already have a volunteer trip to Minami Soma planned for November. 
 
We also took the group of volunteers from the one children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area and a group of boys from a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area especially for boys suffering from shut in syndrome (that is, children who are socially withdrawn) to an elementary school near Sendai which was an evacuation center during the tsunami and is now a museum.  The children, teachers and local residents in the school survived the tsunami which tragically washed away the surrounding area.  We took the children there for natural disaster awareness and preparedness training.  It was particularly impactful because the school is very similar to the elementary schools they themselves have attended.  They learned the importance of acting quickly when there is a natural disaster and of always updating one’s evacuation plans. 
 
These volunteer trips were also very impactful on the children and their teachers and caregivers.  For the children who are the beneficiaries of volunteer activities at their children’s homes, it was an opportunity to experience volunteering themselves, to gain new experiences and life skills and to gain further self confidence.  For the children, teachers and caregivers at the eight different children’s homes, it was an opportunity to share information, to make new friends and to realize there are others just like them in similar circumstances.  And, for the boys, it was a huge step for them just to have gone on the trip and to have adhered to a time schedule and it was very impactful for them to see how an area devastated by a natural disaster is recovering day by day. They too gained new experiences that helped them gain further self confidence and life skills.  Thank you very much for your generous support in helping make all this possible.  The children greatly appreciated the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced.  Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their children’s homes to volunteer in the future. 
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
Oct 6, 2017

Monthly " SHIOKAZE KITCHEN" in Iwate prefecture

Children prepared fireworks
Children prepared fireworks

JEN continues to support “SHIOKAZE KITCHEN”, run by Miyako Council of Social Welfare in Iwate prefecture.

One of seven children is now in the poor in Japan. The poverty rate of a single mother family is especially over 50%.

“SHIOKAZE KITCHEN” is now an capacious community place to prevent children from giving up their dream and also to prevent parent from holding their problems by themselves.

Every month, a single parent and the children, volunteering and staff from Miyako Council of Social Welfare get together, prepare meals, eat and enjoy the time together. Also, they sometimes listen to their problems.

This kitchen is monthly held in the community place, using a kitchen and a Japanese style room.

In August, we had an outdoor BBQ party as special event during summer holiday, as requested by children.

It was unfortunately heavy rainy day, however, everyone had great time all together with never ending laughter!.

Preparing rice balls for BBQ
Preparing rice balls for BBQ
BBQ started!
BBQ started!
After the BBQ, we also enjoyed fireworks
After the BBQ, we also enjoyed fireworks
Jul 26, 2017

Hands On Tokyo Tohoku Summer Report 2017

Thank you very much for all your continued support so far this year.  You have helped us further assure many people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives more than six years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Summer is a very busy time for farmers as it is their primary growing season.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
In June, 19 Hands On Tokyo volunteers — mostly students from an international high school in Tokyo — helped Saito-san and his wife by working in their eggplant fields.  Although paprikas are their primary crop, Saito-san and his wife recently began growing eggplants as well as eggplants are quite hardy and can grow in soil that has been mixed with sand and saltwater.  
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of the day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the eggplant fields with deep gratitude.  They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in a day. 
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives. We already have several volunteer trips to Tohoku planned for August and September.
 
We also are still organizing volunteer projects for Tohoku residents that take place in Tokyo.  This helps build awareness of the continued need for support and enables people living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in volunteer projects when they are unable to travel to Tohoku. 
 
In June, a group of volunteers from Moody’s Japan gathered in Tokyo to decorate cookies and we delivered the beautifully and colorfully decorated cookies to a kindergarten in Yamamoto-cho.  The children and teachers were very happy to receive the cookies.  The cookies triggered many smiles and provided an opportunity for the children and teachers to create new happy memories together.
 
Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment.  In June, 19 Hands On Tokyo volunteers — mostly high school students from an international high school in Tokyo — helped weed, plant new plants and do other gardening at the O-Link House in Ogatsu. The O-Link House was the first permanent building to be rebuilt in Ogatsu after the earthquake and tsunami and as such is a beacon of hope for the former residents of Ogatsiu. It was built by Hands On Tokyo with the generous support of the Major League Baseball Players Association and other donors.  It serves as an important community center for those who used to live in Ogatsu before the earthquake and tsunami and who wish to meet with their friends and neighbors from Ogatsu and to continue their community activities.  It has gallery space where local artists can hold exhibitions and performances.  It also has a cafe run by young people from Ogatsu offering refreshment to the former residents of Ogatsu and other visitors. The people running, using and visiting the O-Link House greatly appreciate all the hard work of the Hands On Tokyo volunteers who help maintain the building and the surrounding grounds.
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Tokyo and Ogatsu to support and encourage the residents of Ogatsu who survived the tsunami. We are already planning to bring more volunteers to Ogatsu in the coming months.
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. Among other volunteer projects, we are now very busy planning a Disaster Relief Baseball Project called Be the Wind of the Future for nearly 50 young students on three local school baseball teams from Tohoku, Kumamoto and Tokyo.  Kumamoto is still rebuilding after and recovering from a devastating earthquake last year.  Tohoku and Kumamoto primary and secondary school children have had their sports training and school activities interrupted by these devastating natural disasters and we are working to bring three baseball teams together for sports, leadership and natural disaster response and recovery training in the hope that these young athletes will become future leaders in their local communities.  This project will be held in Tokyo this summer for several days.
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
 
$10+ million
Over 50,000
in 111
 

The north coast of Japan was hit by a horrible tsunami after an 9.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred 80 miles offshore. The largest earthquake to strike Japan on record, millions of people have been affected by this massive disaster.

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