Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors

by Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors
Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors

April 11th, 2011

At Soup Kitchens, Happy Faces and Calls for Seconds!

Heartwarming Stew

April 5th - Delivering beef stew to more than 400 people at Utatsu Junior High School, which is being used as an evacuation center in Minami-Sanriku Town. 

In addition to sending relief supplies to areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, AAR JAPAN is also working in coordination with the Peace Project to operate soup kitchens at evacuation centers in Miyagi Prefecture. The Peace Project is a charity program jointly organized by Ingram Co., Ltd. and AAR JAPAN, in which AAR JAPAN receives a portion of sales from various items bearing Ingram’s licensed “Peace Mark”.
On April 5th, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team prepared approximately 500 servings of beef stew for people taking refuge in an evacuation center at UtatsuJunior High School in Minami-Sanriku Town, Miyagi Prefecture. In addition to those living in the school, we called out to people still living in the surrounding houses, gathering together a total of over 400 people. Our beef stew had taken many hands and a full night to prepare, and it was well-received by the disaster victims, approximately 100 of whom came back for more helpings until they were fully satisfied.

April 5th - Children holding a cardboard sign that reads, “Thank you very much – Everybody at Utatsu Evacuation Center, Minami-Sanriku Town.”

After she had eaten, a 70-year old woman said, “I’m sad because I lost my house, but this stew has warmed my heart.”
A 60-year old man said, “I want people to see the situation here and inform as many people as possible.” He added, “It may take a long time, but in two or three years I’d like to invite all the people involved in the soup kitchen back to thank them.” Receiving these words of gratitude from the disaster victims was heart-warming for us all.

Asked what was now needed the most, a group of lively 15-year-old boys enjoying their stew answered, “Love.” When we told them that we had put lots of love into the stew, they declared in unison, “That’s why this is the best stew we’ve ever had!”

“I’m worried because I no longer have a home, but we’re getting through each day by making each other laugh and cheering each other up.” Hearing these words made us feel that we needed to keep sending even more support and even more smiles to the disaster victims.

April 5th – Many hands were involved in preparing the soup kitchen (Minami-Sanriku Town)

 April 5th - Messages from disaster victims written on the Emergency Relief Team’s flag: “We’ll reopen the school for sure!”, “It was delicious! I’m really grateful for the meal.” (Minami-Sanriku Town)

April 9th - AAR JAPAN staff Yukako Niimi (left) with 2nd year high school students from the baseball team who helped with the soup kitchen (Wakabayashi Gymnasium in Wakabayashi District, Sendai City)

April 9th –Delivering around 235 meals of yakisoba noodles and fried chicken, we heard people comment happily, "It’s the first yakisoba noodles we’ve been able to eat since the disaster.” (Wakabayashi District, Sendai City)



April 12th, 2011

AAR JAPAN Provides Relief to Survivors Sheltered Outside Evacuation Centers

Numerous Survivors Stay in Half-Destroyed Homes 

April 11th - A beach where surfers used to gather is now a scene of destruction (Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture)
One month has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and while relief has now begun to meet demands on the ground, survivors staying outside official evacuation centers are still not getting all that they need.
It is estimated that roughly half of survivors have chosen to stay in their own homes, while many others have remained outside official evacuation centers by taking refuge with friends or relatives. AAR JAPAN is committed to reaching these evacuees, who often find themselves overlooked by the general relief effort.
Efforts to Reach the Neediest

April 11th - Hachiko Itoh (left) talks to Michitaka Kobayashi of AAR JAPAN (right) in front of her house. Having lost its support columns, the building seems to be in danger of collapse (Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture)
AAR JAPAN received word of thirty survivors taking refuge in their homes or with friends in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture. Upon learning that they were hard-pressed for food and daily necessities, AAR JAPAN delivered supplies including rice, fermented soy bean paste, oranges, milk, toothbrushes, soap, clothes, side dishes, stove burners and high-pressure washers on Monday, April 11th, 2011.
With seven beaches in a row, Shichigahama was once a gathering spot for surfers coming from both within Miyagi Prefecture and without. The tsunami washed away the entire town, taking everything from the fishery facilities to private houses, post offices, convenience stores and restaurants. Farmland has also been submerged under seawater.
We came across a number of exhausted survivors cleaning their mud- and seawater-covered homes, carrying belongings they had picked up from among the rubble. Moving heavy furniture is a strenuous job for the elderly and for those living alone, and we spotted a few young local men carrying a large closet from an elderly person’s half-destroyed house. When we talked to people staying in friends’ or relatives’ less-damaged houses, one man said, “They have been feeding me, and I’m sorry to be a burden.”
Junko Sato lived close to the port, and when the tsunami hit, the first floor of her house was flooded. She has finally cleared all the mud after a month of hard labor, during which time she stayed at her sister’s house. Nevertheless, mud and seawater still remain under the floor, and the wooden house will rot if left as it is. Apprehensive of the future, she said, “I’ve already asked a business to take care of it, but I wonder when I can move back in.”
Hachiko Itoh lived in the hard-hit Yogasakihama area of Shichigahama. The first floor of her house was damaged to such an extent that it’s incredible that it has not collapsed to the ground. When we spoke to her, Hachiko was gathering memorabilia while using a towel to wipe the small piece of floor that survived the disaster. Her family has asked her to leave the site alone out of concern for her safety.

April 12th- People were very pleased to see when we returned to Shichigahama the next day with supplies including milk and oranges (Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture). 

The survivors continue to face significant difficulties whether in homes or in evacuation centers. When we announced the successful delivery of our supplies, we were told that, although many organizations had been contacted for help, AAR JAPAN was the first to reach the Shichigahama area.
AAR JAPAN will continue to provide prompt and vital aid to those who are not being reached by the general relief effort.



April 14th, 2011

At Home, but with No Supplies: Difficulties Faced by Survivors in Their Homes

AAR JAPAN has been making efforts to support hard-to reach disaster survivors who remain in their homes. On April 11th, AAR JAPAN’s Ayumi YASUDA delivered supplies to two homes in Ishinomaki City. This is her report.
There’s food in town, but…
In Daikaido, Ishinomaki City, we delivered diapers and wet wipes, baby food, toys, children’s clothes, milk, juice, high-pressure washers and boots to about 30 kindergartners and people who have remained in their homes in the neighborhood of Eiko Church and Eiko Kindergarten.
Although her car and furniture were swept away by the tsunami, church member Tomiyo HOSOKAWA has remained in her house. Her gas was finally reconnected the day before (the 10th), but the bath in her house is broken, so she has been bathing at her neighbors’ houses.
There are many people in the area who escaped from the Ojika Peninsula, which suffered tremendous damage from the earthquake and tsunami. Many fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and they have been relying on relatives in the area.
One month has passed since the earthquake, and access to food is improving, with some shops reopening and relief supplies being provided at evacuation centers. But people still lack cars with which to acquire supplies, and even those who can get ingredients may have nothing with which to cook them.

Tomiyo HOSOKAWA (right) said happily, “People who escaped from the Ojika Peninsula with little children have been waiting for these diapers.” (Left: AAR’s Ayumi YASUDA.)

Working to prevent the isolation of the elderly
Miyako SAITO is an elementary school teacher in Fudo-cho, Ishinomaki City. We delivered supplies to her house as requested, including milk, juice, garbage bags, mouthwash (used in place of tooth-brushing), antiseptic gel, moisture cream, and so on.
Located at the mouth of a river, Fudo-cho was significantly affected by the tsunami. Electricity and water have finally been restored, but gas has yet to be reconnected, and people have been using temporary bath-houses built by the Self-Defense Force.
Ms. SAITO said, “The problem we’re facing is that elderly people living alone tend to be isolated. They have no means of letting others know when they’re in trouble.” Ms. SAITO and her neighbors have divided the area into several groups so that each group’s leader can bring supplies back from evacuation centers for distribution to elderly survivors. “Normally neighbors would do more to care for the eld


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One Month After the Great East Japan Earthquake: Recovery through Medical Assistance & Support for Institutional Reconstruction

Elderly, people with disabilities, remote islands receive relief supplies from AAR Japan

Delivery of 24 cartons of batteries, 4 tons of potable water and other relief supplies to the isolated island of Ajishima in Miyagi Prefecture. As soon as the ferry arrived at the island, the supplies were moved to a truck waiting at the port

AAR JAPAN has been supporting aid and relief activities in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake since March 13th, with two new offices opened in Sendai City (Miyagi Prefecture) and Morioka City (Iwate Prefecture), and 30 people dispatched as part of Emergency Relief Teams.
In coordination with Prefectural Emergency Headquarters and social welfare divisions, AAR JAPAN has been delivering aid and engaging in relief efforts in hard-to-reach evacuation centers, senior care centers, and facilities for people with disabilities, as well as reaching people living outside evacuation centers and on isolated islands in Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima and Yamagata Prefectures. Roughly 20,000 people in 170 locations have received food, water, fuel and other daily necessities through AAR JAPAN.
Many elderly people and people with disabilities have special dietary and medical needs that require a quick and sensitive response. AAR JAPAN keeps track of their changing daily needs, and concentrates its efforts on the timely delivery of supplies that are most immediately required.
In addition to continuing to send vital supplies and preparing soup kitchens for the most desperate disaster victims, AAR JAPAN is also planning to aid local reconstruction efforts by providing medical support and assisting in institutional recovery.

Relief supplies distributed between March 13th and April 8th:

Reception Centers - Approximately 20,000 people in 170 locations
Miyagi Prefecture: Sendai City, Ishinomaki City, Kesen-numa City, Natori City, Tome City, Higashi-Matsushima City, Onagawa Town, Tagajo City, Iwanuma City, Minami-Sanriku Town, Yamamoto Town, Shiogama City
Iwate Prefecture: Otsuchi Town, Ofunato City, Rikuzen-takata City, Kamaishi City, Yamada Town
Fukushima Prefecture: Minami-Soma City
Yamagata Prefecture: Kaminoyama City
And others
Relief Supplies Delivered to Affected Areas
Diesel oil (13,600 liters)
Kerosene (4,400 liters)
Gasoline (2,060 liters)
Potable water (13 tons)
Rice (2 tons)
Oranges (2 tons)
Bananas (2 tons)
Milk (480 packs)
Sweet-bean cakes (25,000 units)
Other food (Retort foods, food for the elderly, canned food, miso, soy sauce, nutritional supplements, etc.)
Blankets (1,000 units)
Underwear, scarves and clothes (25,000 units)
Towels and hand cloths (50,000 units)
“Furoshiki” wrapping cloths (3,000 units)
Face masks  (60,000 units)
Hand warmers (5,000 units)
Sleeping bags (3,400 units)
Medicine (60 packages)
Toothbrushes (10,000 units)
Paper diapers (60,000 units)
Women’s sanitary products (17,000 units)
Batteries (80 cartons)
Baby products (Baby food, utensils, baby bottles, pacifiers, baby slings, etc.)
High-pressure washers (30 units)
Chainsaws (30 units)
Boots (100 pairs)
Books and picture books (20 boxes)
Crayon sets (200 units)
Cell phone chargers (120 units)
Computers (6 units)
Plus other miscellaneous items


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Houses are piled on top of each other
Houses are piled on top of each other

Struggles for Basic Supplies Continue

On Tuesday, March 29, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Teams covered a total of 4 locations in Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and Sendai City, both in Miyagi Prefecture, delivering food, blankets, diapers, etc.
Swift Response to Actual Needs
At Rikuchu-Coast Juvenile Center in a town of Yamada in Iwate Prefecture, where 240 survivors are clustered together, the Team distributed some food including potato chips, grapefruit, sweet pounded rice cake, etc., along with underwear and masks.  The facility did not have running water; their only source of water is an occasional arrival of potable water trucks, preventing the survivors from taking a bath or shower.  Even washing clothes is a tough chore to execute.
Among 240 survivors are 40 inmates of Hamamatsu Gakuen, a welfare facility for people with disabilities nearby, which was totally destroyed by the Tsunami.  The Team provided 60 additional sheets of blankets for them, who have had to spend the night on a single sheet of blanket spread on a cold concrete floor.
Survivors receive extra blankets from a AAR JAPAN volunteer (left).
When a member of the AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team was listening to survivors’ stories, lights came on suddenly in the building.  The facility had managed to install a generator, and it was this day that the survivors here got at least some lights for the night for the first time after the Quake.
List of Destinations on March 29
Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture
-Rikuchu-Coast Juvenile Center (Refuge center, 240 survivors)
Ayukawahama District, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Ayukawa Junior High School (Relief item storage for the entire Ojika Peninsula area)
-Seiyu-kan (Refuge center, 180 survivors)
Taihaku Ward, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture
-CIL Tasuketto (Welfare facility for the aged, 60 survivors)

Staff of Juvenile Center carries in blankets.  These will improve the life of survivors who are forced to sleep on a single sheet of blanket on a concrete floor.
A girl at a gymnasium of Juvenile Center.  "My school is broken, but here I am OK because there are many friends" says the girl, who is a first grader at elementary school
Houses are piled on top of each other (Ojika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture)
Many helped unloading relief items at Ayukawa Junior High School (Far right, Toshiyuki KOGA of AAR JAPAN)


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Land liquefaction left puddles around the building
Land liquefaction left puddles around the building

Fluid Soil Poses Threat to Welfare Facilities

On March 28, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Teams logged 7 locations on their delivery record, visiting 4 places in Tome City, 2 in Kurihara City and 1 more in Yamamoto Town, all in Miyagi Prefecture.

Disappeared Welfare Facility Revisited
Sasae-ai (Supporting Each Other)” is a welfare facility for the aged in Yamamoto Town.  Its building had been rendered into a pile of planks and scrap metals by the massive Tsunami, and a single signboard was all that was left in its location when the AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team managed to get there on March 26.  The Team was later able to talk to the director of the facility, but at that time he had not grasped enough information as to what had happened to the elderly who had been in the building at the time of the Quake.  The leader got in touch with the Team again after two days, saying whereabouts of the aged clients had been confirmed and that he had secured a storage for relief items.  The elderly of the facility are scattered in several locations, some at refuge centers, some others staying with their relatives.  The team met director on March 28, and handed out food and diapers for adults, both desperately needed by the dispersed elderly.

Welfare Facility Ponders Relocation
Sakuranbo Kurabu (Cherry Club)” is a welfare facility for the aged in a city of Tome in Northern Miyagi.  Situated inland, Tome was out of reach of the Tsunami.  Many parts of the town, former marshland, suffered serious damages nonetheless due to its relatively loose soil.
Half of the building of “Sakuranbo Kurabu” is not usable because of possible liquefaction caused by the Quake.  The phenomenon has created a number of puddles in the facility’s premise.  A staff member of the facility told the Team that the facility might have to move to somewhere else in near future, because the current building is too dangerous for normal use.

Land liquefaction left puddles around the building of "Sakuranbo Kurabu" (Go IGARASHI of AAR JAPAN, right, hands out a box of relief items)

List of Destinations on March 28
Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture:
-Bakery “Isoppu (Aesop)” (Welfare facility for people with disabilities)
-“Mariya no Ie (House of Mary)” (Welfare facility for people with disabilities)

Septic tanks at "Minna no Ie" were all damaged.
Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture:
-“Sasae-ai” (Welfare facility for the aged)

Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture:
-Wako-en (Welfare facility for people with disabilities)
-“Sakuranbo Kurabu” (Welfare facility for the aged)
-“Minna no Ie (House for Everybody)” (Welfare facility for the aged)
-Hantoku-en (Welfare facility for people with disabilities)
Septic tanks at "Minna no Ie" were all damaged.
Septic tanks at "Minna no Ie" were all damaged.


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Rikuzen-Takata City after the tsunami
Rikuzen-Takata City after the tsunami

AAR JAPAN Enters the Demolished City

On Sunday, March 27, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team made an expedition to the city of Rikuzen-Takata, one of the most heavily damaged towns along the Pacific coast, visiting two welfare facilities for people with disabilities for delivery of relief items.
Most part of Rikuzen-Takata city lies in a state of obliteration.  Few buildings except those in the heights survived.

People with Disabilities Stay Together
Out of 4 welfare facilities in Rikuzen-Takata, only two survived the catastrophe; the other two were swallowed by the Tsunami.  “Hikami-no-Sono” and “Asunaro Home”, two remaining facilities now serve as refuge centers.
At “Hikami-no-Sono”, a total of 50 people with disabilities and staff members are taking shelter.  The small building, located in the heights, evaded the devastating Tsunami.  In contrast to relatively bigger refuge centers nearby where consistent provisions of relief items have recently started to arrive, small places like “Hikami-no-Sono” are still experiencing severe lack of material support.  Despite the suffocating inconvenience, many of people with disabilities have no other option but staying in the familiar facility.  For them, sharing time and space with many others at bigger refuge centers is simply unrealistic.

Yoshiteru HORIE (left), Secretary General of AAR JAPAN presents a box of bananas to the director of "Hikami-no-Sono".  He was very happy, saying the fruit was easy to eat and nutritious.
AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team handed out bananas, grapefruits, futon mattress, toilet paper rolls and 20 liters of gasoline.  Vehicles at “Hikami-no-Sono” were completely out of gas when the Team arrived, hindering them from going out to procure necessary items.  “Now we can go to shops far away from here and buy things”, said the worker at the facility.
List of Destinations on March 27
Rikuzen-Takata City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Hikami-no-Sono (Welfare facility for people with disabilities, 50 survivors)
-Asunaro Home (Welfare facility for people with disabilities, 15 survivors)
AAR JAPAN Secretary-General to deliver donations
AAR JAPAN Secretary-General to deliver donations


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Organization Information

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)

Location: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo - Japan
Project Leader:
Yuko Ito
Program Coordinator
Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo Japan

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