On March 11th, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the coastal areas of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima Prefectures. More than 15,800 people were killed, and more than 3,200 are still missing. As of today, many survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This project aims to encourage the evacuees to take new steps forward, foster community bonds and develop social networks through activities that can help improve their physical and psychological conditions.
More than a year after the disaster, people living in the affected regions of Japan are still struggling to start a new life. Many residents of temporary housing complexes feel isolated. Life in the narrow rooms of container units often leaves evacuees with numb limbs, pain in the joints, muscle knots, poor blood circulation or weak muscles. Most of the young families feel anxious, as prospects to find work are bleak. The elderly have lost the land where they spent their days with gardening.
Our project promotes community events at temporary housing complexes, such as arts & crafts classes (see our video) or gardening, and health-related mobile services such as massages, calisthenic exercises and active listening. The idea is to prevent further deterioration of the evacuees' psychological and physical health, and improve their well-being as a whole. While massages or active listening address vital individual needs, community events can help foster new bonds and social networks.
Through the building of healthy communities, AAR JAPAN aims to support a proactive participation of evacuees in the recovery process and to encourage persons of all ages to take steps towards a new life. Our activities cover the three affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, and address all population groups: the elderly, children, families, temporary housing residents who live alone, persons with disabilities etc. We expect about 500 people per month to benefit from the project.