Help disabled and elderly disaster survivors

by Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)
Jun 6, 2011

Activity Report (May 10th to 15th, 2011)

May 10th, 2011

Leave no one behind - AAR JAPAN’s Relief Activities

AAR JAPAN initiated its Tohoku aid and relief activities on the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake, with two new offices opening in Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture) and Morioka (Iwate Prefecture). As of April 25th, 57 people have been dispatched as members of our Emergency Relief Teams.
AAR JAPAN has been delivering relief supplies such as food, water, fuel, daily necessities and electrical appliances to facilities for people with disabilities, senior care centers, hard-to-reach evacuation centers, and isolated islands in four prefectures, including Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima and Yamagata. We have also started preparing soup kitchens, providing traveling clinics, supporting the operations of regular bus services, and aiding in the reconstruction of damaged facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Sayako NOGIWA, Tohoku Office Representative, reports on AAR JAPAN’s relief activities.
Coordinating to Support the Elderly and People with Disabilities
I have experienced emergency relief activities after massive natural disasters such as the Myanmar Cyclone, the Sumatra Earthquake, and the Pakistan Flood, but the damage inflicted by the Great East Japan Earthquake is the most extensive I have ever seen. Time and again I have been at a loss for words, overwhelmed by the power and brutality that has completely destroyed so many people’s lives.
AAR JAPAN has learned from its overseas experience that the elderly and people with disabilities are easily forgotten in times of crisis, and we focus our efforts on these groups when undertaking aid activities. People with disabilities and elderly people often have difficulty in moving or need special assistance in their daily lives, making it hard to adjust to living with others at evacuation centers. As a result, they often take shelter in facilities that are not officially identified as evacuation centers, and do not get enough support.
Immediately after the earthquake, AAR JAPAN went to the disaster zone and compiled a list of facilities in the affected areas based on lists provided by the Miyagi Prefectural Office, the Iwate Prefectural Office, the Social Welfare Council, and network groups for people with disabilities. With telephone lines often going dead, we relied on the list to visit the various facilities one-by-one, loaded with as many supplies as our cars could carry, including food, fuel and daily necessities. We confirmed the safety of the people staying in each location, distributed supplies, and inquired about their needs. We would then return with any requested supplies as early as the next day. Whenever we receive requests for such things as fuel or water, AAR JAPAN provides the supplies directly on a case-by-case basis.
May 5th – AAR JAPAN delivers food to the Yamada Kyosei workshop. In the center is Shuya FUKUDA of AAR JAPAN. (Iwate Prefecture)
Working to Improve Coordination Meetings
When undertaking overseas emergency relief activities, coordination and communication meetings called “cluster meetings” are held regularly, with participants including United Nations agencies, international and local NGOs, and other groups engaged in relief activities. These meetings are very effective for avoiding duplication and bridging any gaps in support efforts.
AAR JAPAN has been working to strengthen the function of these meetings by calling for active involvement from aid-related groups in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. In these meetings, each group reports on the previous week’s activities, and when we learn that some facilities lack supplies, AAR JAPAN offers to deliver them, including the task in our schedule from the following day.

April 7th – An information exchange meeting was held with 70 representatives of groups engaged in supporting survivors with disabilities in Miyagi Prefecture. To the left at the back are Mr. Hiroshi UENO, Director of AAR JAPAN, and Ms. Sayako NOGIWA, Tohoku Office Representative. (Photo provided by Japan Disability Forum)
Leave no one Behind
In addition to strengthening coordination with related aid groups and providing support focused on people with disabilities and the elderly, AAR JAPAN’s aid activities are characterized by the diversity of its supplies and speed of its distribution. While food, daily necessities and fuel remain our key supplies, we have also delivered computers, printers, rice cookers, refrigerators, fresh vegetables, artificial respirators and more, all to match survivors’ particular needs. We deliver supplies at the earliest the next day, and in most cases within 3 days of receiving a request.
We will also strengthen our efforts to support survivors in their homes. It is said that half of the disaster survivors are staying in their homes, but even prefecture offices have not yet grasped the real situation. Many evacuees are now without an income, and coupled with the slow recovery of infrastructure, many now lead difficult lives without enough food. AAR JAPAN has been engaging in aid activities with the aim that no-one will ever lack sufficient support.
AAR JAPAN will continue to support survivors who are struggling to get by, with an eye on both mid- and long-term solutions.

Sayako NOGIWA (Tohoku Office Representative)
AAR JAPAN Senior Program Coordinator
Largely responsible for AAR JAPAN's projects in Myanmar and other parts of Asia.
Involved in a number of emergency relief operations in the past, including the Myanmar Cyclone in 2008, the Sumatra Earthquake in 2009, and the Pakistan Flood in 2010. 
(34 years old, born in Tokyo.)

May 12th, 2011

Two Months Since the Great East Japan Earthquake: Activity Report

Continuing Relief Efforts for People with Disabilities and the Elderly

May 2nd - “AAR JAPAN was the first organization to deliver us relief supplies,” say evacuees from Yokoura Evacuation Center. Left is AAR JAPAN’s deputy director Taki KATO (Onagawa Town in Oshika County, Miyagi Prefecture). Photo by Yoshifumi KAWABATA.

Since March 13th, AAR JAPAN has been carrying out relief activities for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In addition to delivering emergency supplies, AAR JAPAN is also providing medical support and soup kitchens, operating regular buses, and engaging in efforts to rebuild local institutions.
Here we report on the progress of activities that have been made possible thanks to the efforts of our supporters. AAR JAPAN will continue to deliver relief to people with disabilities, the elderly, people taking refuge in their homes, and other hard-to-reach survivors.

Delivery Report from March 14th to May 10th

List of supplies delivered and receiving institutions from March 14th to May 10th (PDF file: 257 KB, Japanese only)

Receiving Institutions: approximately 56,200 people in 420 institutions
Miyagi Prefecture: Sendai City, Ishinomaki City, Kesennuma 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: Soma City, Minami-Soma City
Yamagata Prefecture: Yamagata 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 tonnes)
Rice (2 tonnes)
Oranges (2 tonnes)
Bananas (2 tonnes)
Milk (480 packs)
Sweet-bean cakes (25,900 units)
Vegetables (Potatoes, carrots, onions, spinach, etc. – 25 kg each)
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  (70,280 units)
Hand warmers (5,000 units)
Sleeping bags (3,400 units)
Medicine (60 packages)
Toothbrushes (10,000 units)
Paper diapers (60,232 units)
Women’s sanitary products (17,000 units)
Batteries (80 cartons)
Baby products (Baby food, pacifiers, etc.)
High-pressure washers (32 units)
Chainsaws (30 units)
Shovels (12 units)
Boots (100 pairs)
Books and picture books (20 boxes)
Crayon sets (200 units)
Cell phone chargers (120 units)
Computers (6 units)
Bicycles (70 units)
Washing machines (11 units)
Dryers (21 units)
Refrigerators (9 units)
Care beds (1 unit)
Wheelchairs (3 units)
Power generators (1 unit)
Knives (10 units)
Cutting boards (10 units)
Small shelving units (10 units)
Book shelves (1 unit)
Clothing cases (2 units)
Disinfectant spray (500 units)
Hand soap (168 units)
Plus other miscellaneous items
Medical Assistance
On the Oshika Peninsula, we visited the areas of Makinohama, Takenohama, Kitsunezaki-hama, Sudachi, Fukkiura, Kozumihama and Kobuchihama, where approximately 640 survivors are taking shelter in their homes. Led by Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA, a local medical practitioner, AAR JAPAN’s medical team has established a traveling clinic that works to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, check up on sufferers of chronic illnesses, and offer psychological support, among other health-related activities. We examined 227 people between April 9th and May 9th.
Regular Buses
To guarantee the mobility of those who have lost their regular means of transportation on the Oshika Peninsula, in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, AAR JAPAN has prepared a microbus that circulates twice a day in the Ogihama area and once a day in the Ayukawa area. Between April 10th and April 30th, approximately 108 people made use of bus services in the Ogihama area.
Soup Kitchens
In coordination with Ingram Co., Ltd., which is responsible for the Peace Project, AAR JAPAN organized soup kitchens in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures from March 31st to May 8th. AAR JAPAN also organized independent soup kitchens in both prefectures between May 1st and May 7th.
Soup Kitchen Locations: approximately 13,150 meals in 20 locations

Miyagi Prefecture: Watanoha, Aikawa, Kitakami and Ayukawa (Oshika Peninsula) in Ishinomaki City; Wakabayashi District in Sendai City; Shizugawa and Utatsu in Minami-Sanriku Town; Niitsuki, Shishi and Omose in Kesennuma City
Iwate Prefecture: Kamaishi City, Tagajo City, Otsuchi Town, Yamada Town
Soup Kitchen Menu
Tokushima ramen, oden, beef stew, yakisoba (fried noodles), fried chicken, vegetable sticks, chukadon (Chinese-style stir-fried meat and vegetables on rice), beef steak, onion soup, tuna sashimi on rice, chanko-nabe (hot pot), apple pie, onion sauté, minestrone, ground chicken with egg and vegetables on rice, fish soup, hijiki seaweed mix, fried sweet potato sticks, cabbage rolls, mixed bean-curd lees and vegetables, autumn rice, pork soup, boiled fish, cabbage and spinach side dishes, somen noodles, minced fish soup, hand-made sweet potato pies, handmade langue du chats, samgyetang (Korean chicken ginseng soup), yakitori (grilled chicken), miso soup with tofu and shimeji mushrooms, simmered meat and potatoes, boiled komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), pasta with meat sauce, potato salad, miso soup with Chinese cabbage and shiitake mushrooms, boiled field mustard, inarizushi (fried tofu stuffed with boiled rice), cooked radish and minced meat, kashiwa mochi (rice cake wrapped in oak leaf), fried whitefish, miso soup with radish, root salad, fruit jelly, udon rice noodles, almond jelly, cooked meat with vegetables, gyoza (Chinese dumplings), borscht, miso soup with clams, marinated octopus, miso soup with cabbage and Japanese mustard spinach, clams with wasabi, seafood curry rice (with scallops, clams and shrimp), Japanese sweets and amazake (sweet mild sake), etc
Institutional Reconstruction
In coordination with local construction companies, AAR JAPAN is repairing cracks in the walls and on the grounds of senior care facilities and facilities for people with disabilities to enable these people to return to their lives as soon as possible. On April 21st, AAR JAPAN finished fixing cracks in the parking lot of the Asunaro Home, care facility for people with disabilities located in Rikuzen-takata City, Iwate Prefecture.
Container Housing Project
On May 11th, AAR JAPAN installed 6 container housing units in the town of Onagawa in Oshika County, Miyagi Prefecture, to enable evacuees who have been enduring long-term life in evacuation centers to move into more stable housing.
“Let’s Bring Hot Springs to the Disaster Zone!” Project 
In coordination with Manyo Club Co., Ltd. (Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture), Ascendia Inc. (Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo) and other companies, AAR JAPAN is carrying out the “Let’s Bring Hot Springs to the Disaster Zone!” Project.
With the cooperation of Kanagawa Prefecture’s Yugawara Onsen (hot spring), on the first day of the project, April 9th, hot spring water was delivered to four evacuation centers in Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture: Yamoto Dai-ichi Junior High School, Ushiami Community Center, Akai City Center and Asai Civic Center.
Since April 12th, with the cooperation of Miyagi Prefecture’s Onikobe Onsen (hot spring), hot water has been delivered to facilities in two different locations every day except Sunday. Delivery points include the four locations listed above, plus Miyato Elementary School in Higashi-Matsushima City and Ishinomaki Shoshinkai Social Welfare Corporation in Ishinomaki City. These 6 delivery points enable 500-600 evacuees to bathe every day, and AAR JAPAN plans to continue to provide the service until the end of this month.
Tote Bag Project
Responding to requests from evacuation centers and senior care facilities, AAR JAPAN is collecting hand-made tote bags to be delivered to the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. With the May 20th deadline drawing near, approximately 1600 bags have been received to date. AAR JAPAN volunteers will attach a strap of our mascot “Sunny-chan” to the bags and deliver them to evacuees, with precedence going to the elderly.

May 13th, 2011

Container Houses Quickly Offer a Better Living Space

May 10th – Volunteers who worked to set up the container houses. Front center is Mr. Yoshiteru HORIE, Secretary General of AAR JAPAN. (Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture) (Photo by Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA)

In the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, there are still thousands of people living in minimal comfort in evacuation centers, risking their health due to stress and exhaustion. The government has not been able to provide enough temporary housing for all of them.
At AAR JAPAN, international journalist, Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA proposed offering the evacuees container houses, which are ready-to-assemble and easy to set up. AAR JAPAN has started sending these container houses to the affected areas.

In the town of Onagawa in Oshika County, Miyagi Prefecture, 6 container houses were set up for evacuees on May 10th. 24 more container houses will be set up in Onagawa in the near future, with more planned in other areas as well.
Having proposed the project, Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA reports on progress in Onagawa as of May 10th.
Virtually Unchanged Since the Day of the Great East Japan Earthquake

May 10th – Yubigahama, where the container houses were set up, remained untouched since the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake. (Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture) (Photo by Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA)

On May 10th, in a small seaside village a few kilometers from central Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, we set up 4 container houses at Yubigahama Kappa Farm Evacuation Center, and set up 2 more in the garden of the private residence behind the farm.
The town of Onagawa was one of the hardest-hit along Miyagi’s Pacific coast, with 80% of the town devastated by the tsunami. There are few hills, and the town has been noted on the news for its lack of space for building temporary housing. Yubigahama, where the container houses were set up today, has suffered some of the greatest damage in Onagawa, yet due to its distance from the town center government support has yet to come. I was shocked to see the area: It has been almost 2 months, but nothing has changed since the day of the earthquake. Debris has not been cleared, and the roads have not been repaired at all.
We entered an unpaved farm road from the narrow national road along the Pacific Ocean. There we were met by a mountain of debris, behind which stood a hilltop house that has become an evacuation center. The house is not at all big, but 4 families now live there together. Neither water nor power has been restored. We set up the container houses in front of this private residence. 

Houses Full of Consideration

May 10th - The container houses were imported from China and Italy. Used in war zones and under harsh conditions, they are very sturdy. (Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture)
Staff from Osaki Yahata Shrine, one of Sendai’s national treasures, first practiced assembling the container houses. They checked the equipment and set-up procedure, and any parts that were damaged in the process were repaired thanks to the superlative skills of the metal workers at Chikurin Sha.

More than 15 volunteers joined us in setting up the houses on the 10th and 11th, including four workers from Tohoku Grader, a prefabrication company in Sendai; the head priest of Osaki Yahata Shrine, Mr. ONOME, and 6 shrine staff; Secretary General HORIE of AAR JAPAN; 2 staff members from Zempro, an advertising agency in Fukuoka; Mr. NARITA from Konishi Arts and Crafts; and my friend Mr. Dylan MONAHAN from the US military.
At first the evacuees only watched from afar, but later they helped us unpack the components. I asked one of them nervously, “What do you think of the house?” Honestly, I was afraid to hear the answer.

May 10th - In the completed container house. “I’m really happy to have some private space,” says Ms. SUZUKI, who has been living in the evacuation center with her 4 family members. “To be honest, living with others for 2 months is a little tiring.” (Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture)
“It’s larger and better-built than I expected,” I was told. “I thought only a box would come.”
“Right now, four families are living in this evacuation center. I never thought I would care about the lack of privacy, because we have known each other for so long. But living together for 2 months has been mentally exhausting. We don’t have any space to discuss family matters privately. I’m really thankful just to have a space for our families to sleep on our own.”
I almost cried. I know that it would be better to offer a larger space with better facilities like the government’s temporary housing, but government support has not yet reached this area. We started this project in the hope of reducing the stress on evacuees while they are waiting.
With many people’s support, we were able to overcome a variety of obstacles and set up our first container houses. Filled with a sense of consideration, I was able to feel that the houses were helpful to the survivors.
We are planning to assemble 24 more container houses in Onagawa, and we have also had requests to build container houses in Minami-Sanriku and Ishinomaki.
We have just started this project, but from here on we would like to set up as many container houses as quickly as we can. We will try our best to aid in recovery efforts, and I beg your warm support for the survivors of this disaster.

International political analyst and international journalist. Born in Tokyo in 1969. Graduated from Chuo University with a degree in political science. Received a master’s degree in international relations from Universiteit van Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam). Has written for magazines and published books on international affairs as a freelance journalist.
Assembleable container houses are easy to transport and take only a few hours to set up. The container house project was proposed in the hope of providing comfortable living spaces quickly and efficiently while the government sets up temporary housing. We have been actively engaged in this project, from obtaining and importing the container houses to setting them up on the ground.



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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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