Building Healthy Communities for Recovery

by Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)
Feb 28, 2013

Summary of Project in Fukushima for Past 6 Months

Boo!!! Santa is in town!
Boo!!! Santa is in town!

Overview of the Damage that Still Remains

It has been nearly two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11th, 2011. In spite of the steady recovery process, many people are still suffering from the aftereffects of the disaster. Many people are still displaced because of the radiation spill at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture. For example, evacuees are forced to stay in temporary housing complexes because their homes and workplaces were completely washed away by the tsunami.

According to the Ministry of Reconstruction in Japan, as of December 12th 2012, there are still 98,235 people living in the temporary housing complexes and other types of publicly subsidized residences in Fukushima Prefecture alone. In the Tohoku region as a whole (Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures), there are 251,869 people who share the same fate.

Number of evacuees living in temporary housing complexes and other subsidized housing

  • Fukushima = 98,235
  • Miyagi = 112,008
  • Iwate = 41,626
  • TOTAL = 251,869

Number of evacuees who evacutaded out of their home prefectures and still cannot go back

  • Fukushima = 57,954
  • Miyagi = 8,079
  • Iwate = 1,674
  • TOTAL = 67,707


For those who used to live within 20km of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, there is still no prospect of being able to go back to their homes in the near future. For those whose houses are outside of that restricted area, the problem of the radiation contamination still looms. There is an ongoing effort to cleanse and decontaminate the residential areas, but the effect is very limited and temporary. Since the forests and the soil of mountains regions have accumulated radioactive particles over time, every rainfall carries the threat of radioactive contamination via water streams, resulting in increases of radiation levels in residential areas downstream.


Our Building Healthy Communities Project

We started the Building Healthy Communities Project to mitigate the physical and psychological pain felt by the victims of the March 11th disaster. We hoped to help people living in temporary housing complexes recover from their many losses – their loved ones, homes, workplaces, and precious personal possessions.

Through the Building Healthy Communities Project, we hoped to foster strong, personal interaction among the victims so that they may get over their plight not alone, but as a community. People would get to know each other and start to build new supportive relationships, and as that happens on a larger and larger scale, it would re-vitalize a sense of community and the hope of regaining some normalcy.

The Building Healthy Communities Project mainly consists of 2 activities:

  1. Community gathering events held at community centers in temporary housing complexes.
  2. Overnight field trips for elementary school students to play outside without worrying about radiation.

Between July 1st, 2012 and December 31st, 2013 we have held 9 events all together. As intended, each event was enjoyed by many elderly people and small children. Below is a record of the number of events and the number of participants we had for each activity.

  • Community gathering events: 6 events, 460 participants
  • Overnight field trips for kids: 3 events, 96 participants

We appreciate all the kind messages and generous donations that enable us to organize these events to help alleviate the pain, sadness and stress of those affected. We will continue our support for those still suffering, and every donation will help us reach as many people in need as possible. Finally, please take a look at the photos below to see how our activities are translating into smiles.

Lots of colorful hearts for me and my family
Lots of colorful hearts for me and my family
Building a new Eiffel tower out of colored cups
Building a new Eiffel tower out of colored cups
Making original Christmas decorations
Making original Christmas decorations
"Who wants to knead flour to make noodles?" "Me!!"
"Who wants to knead flour to make noodles?" "Me!!"
Family that came to an overnight field trip
Family that came to an overnight field trip
All together now!
All together now!

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Organization Information

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)

Location: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo - Japan
Website: http:/​/​​english/​
Project Leader:
Yuko Ito
Program Coordinator
Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo Japan
$65,926 raised of $99,000 goal
274 donations
$33,074 to go
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