Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors

by Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)
Tsunami bulled through this house in Yamamoto
Tsunami bulled through this house in Yamamoto

Emergency Relief Reaches 50 Persons with Disabilities

AAR Relief Team Enters Southern Miyagi
Association for Aid and Relief, JAPAN (AAR JAPAN) has sent an emergency relief team of six members to the northern part of Japan, paralyzed by the Earthquake.
On March 16, the team delivered emergency relief items to the inmates of Seiwa-en, a welfare facility for the persons with disabilities, located in a town of Yamamoto in the southernmost part of Miyagi Prefecture.
Ryo YAMAURA, an AAR JAPAN staff member from Sendai, Miyagi, reports from the disaster-stricken area.

Hometown in Devastation
“We took highway from Sendai City, where AAR JAPAN operates from, to Yamamoto. The highway runs parallel to the coastline, about 5km inland. On the coastal side of the road, I could still see a huge body of water left by the Tsunami, with the wreckage of vehicles floating here and there. Some parts of water remained even on the mountain side of the highway to attest to the level of damages inflicted by the tidal wave.

Tsunami bulled through this house in a town of Yamamoto.

Even for me, a native of Sendai City, this Tsunami is simply beyond the wildest imagination. All I can do at this moment is to merely pray for the safety of my friends who live along the coastline.

Relief Arrives in the Nick of Time
“When we got to Seiwa-en, they were on the verge of running out of their normal stock of food good for three days. 50 inmates and 7 staff members had no clear idea of what to do next. Seeing their plight, the team immediately unloaded food, water, sanitary goods and hand warmers into the building.

Shuichi ISHIBASHI of AAR JAPAN (in red jacket) greets a member of Seiwa-en.

Ms. Yukiko MONMA, President of Seiwa-en, leads the entire crew even after the quake, despite the fact that her own house was swept away by the Tsunami. She repeatedly expressed her sincere gratitude to all of us.”

Lights of Hope Relit
“It was when we were about to finish moving items into the facility that lights came back on at Seiwa-en for the first time in six days after the tremor. Someone cried “Emergency lights are on!” and the sense of joy quickly spread among the inmates and staff members. Some were hugging each other with tears in their eyes. It is hard to imagine how much inconvenience and anxiety they have had to put up with. They should have many more problems to overcome. Nonetheless they saw us off saying “It was a really good day today. Electricity has returned. People like you came with things we needed. You really saved us all.” Her words renewed my desire to reach those who need help as swiftly as possible.

Seiwa-en crew celebrates the return of electricity.

Fulfilling a Share of Work
“On our way back to Sendai, we came across a number of workers on the road removing the debris. There were number of trucks and many road construction sites working around the clock. Many people are fulfilling their duties, giving more than 100%. We, the AAR JAPAN Emergency Relief Team, will also move on for the people who are still waiting for the helping hands to reach them. Considering the magnitude of the damages, AAR JAPAN still needs much more assistance. All the members of the team would like to appeal strongly for continuous, generous contributions from our supporters.”

AAR JAPAN staff greets a Seiwa-en member
AAR JAPAN staff greets a Seiwa-en member
Seiwa-en crew celebrates the return of electricity
Seiwa-en crew celebrates the return of electricity


Japan Self Defense Force helps unload relief items
Japan Self Defense Force helps unload relief items

Relief Items Distributed at School in Heavily Damaged Area

AAR Team Delivers Items at Elementary School in Onagawa

AAR JAPAN has sent an emergency relief team of seven personnel to support the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
On March 19, the Team distributed the relief items at No.2 Elementary School in Onagawa, one of the harbor towns in the eastern Miyagi Prefecture heavily damaged by the Tsunami.
Approximately 1,500 local residents are taking refuge in the school building and its gymnasium. The Team headed east from the Sendai base after receiving information from the Emergency Headquarters of the Miyagi Prefectural Government that the evacuees in this school were having a serious shortage of daily supplies including diapers and underwear.

Japan Self Defense Force helps unload the relief items (Left, Yoshitaka SUGISAWA of AAR JAPAN)

7,200 Diapers, 200 Pairs of Underwear, etc. Given Out

On arriving at the school, the Team got immediately onto unloading. Local volunteers and servicemen of the Japan Self Defense Force provided helping hands. The inventory of the relief items included 7,200 diapers, 200 pairs of ladies’ underwear, 40 sets of antiseptic alcohol, 1,000 toothbrushes, 50 blankets, 4 cans of milk, etc. The procurement and transportation of these items were made possible with the generous cooperation extended to AAR JAPAN from MontBell, a Japanese outdoor product company.

The evacuees were in need of everything. Mothers with small children were especially in trouble with a lack of diapers. A member of the Emergency Headquarters of Onagawa Municipal Office told the Team that the consistent provision of the consumables was required. Some evacuees also said that blankets were not enough to keep them warm enough, and some of them were beginning to feel sick. A week after the Quake, mountains behind them were thinly covered with snow.

The team listens to the pleas of the officer of the Emergency Headquarters of Onagawa City (Right, Sayako NOGIWA of AAR JAPAN).
 Memories Washed Away, Loved Ones Still Missing
 Passing through the town of Onagawa, what I saw was simply hard to believe. Both sides of the road were filled with all kinds of debris. The horrifying piles stretched out into the distance. Several hundred meters from the coastline, a wreckage of disfigured train lay among the houses stuck upon each other, smashed into smithereens. The remnants of ordinary, happy lives in an otherwise peaceful rural town scattered everywhere.
A man was walking along the road with a piece of cardboard hanged from his neck like a necklace. The cardboard carried a message that he was looking for his missing family members. It was an unbearable sight. The plight of the survivors made me feel powerless; I forced myself to concentrate on what needs to be done from now.

A welfare facility for the elderly shredded to pieces by tsunami (Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture)
Speed Is the Key
I have, in the past, engaged myself in several disaster relief activities in Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. The Great East Japan Earthquake this time, however, has a different meaning in terms of the magnitude of the damages and the fact that it struck the area close to the place I grew up. What is required at this moment is to bring supplies to the survivors as quickly as possible.
AAR JAPAN will continue to operate in the disaster-hit area, especially in places where little assistance has reached. I call for AAR JAPAN supporters to cooperate in rebuilding the future of the survivors. Your contribution will be highly appreciated.

A train parted in two and swept away by the tsunami (Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture)


AAR team listens to the pleas of the officer
AAR team listens to the pleas of the officer
A welfare facility shredded to pieces
A welfare facility shredded to pieces
A train parted in two by the tsunami
A train parted in two by the tsunami



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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
Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo Japan

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